Following the Prime Minister’s comments on Radio 4, Bradford East’s MP and Shadow International Development Minister, Imran Hussain, demanded that he apologise for linking extremism with poor English language skills.
The Prime Minister made the comments linking extremism amongst Muslims in the UK to a lack of English language skills whilst on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning as part of his announcement to make £20 million of funding available to teach English to Muslim women, and they were immediately denounced by Mr Hussain and other Labour MPs who claimed that they promoted divisive language and alienated the Muslim community.
The announcement on funding and the proposed sanction in the policy has also come under attack by Mr Hussain who has decried the Prime Minister’s intention to deport those who fail English language tests, labelling the decision as ‘absurd’ in light of the Prime Minister cutting funding for ESOL courses designed to increase English proficiency whilst in Government and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding in July last year.
Speaking on the Prime Ministers’ announcement this morning, Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain said:
“Whilst I support to some degree the Prime Minister’s announcement to set aside £20 million to help teach English language skills, I believe that the funding should be there for all communities. However rather than offering sensible solutions to problems that affect non-English speakers of all faiths, the Prime Minister has revealed his true discriminatory and divisive nature, and I would also have been more supportive had the announcement not come from a Government who have already gone about slashing ESOL funding through massive cuts and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding which was established to improve English language skills.
“It is therefore the height of absurdity that whilst the Prime Minister is taking funding from ESOL courses with one hand, he is showing those who fail English language tests the door with the other by threatening them with deportation. This proposed sanction is entirely disproportionate and will not help provide for greater and more cohesive integration, and instead, those with limited English skills should not be coerced into English language classes with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads if they fail, but should be persuaded into them by the many benefits, economic, cultural and social, of extending their English language skills, with the necessary funding available to do so.
“In addition, whilst the Prime Minister is indeed right to talk about tackling discrimination, empowering women and increasing English language skills, by making utterly outrageous and unsupported claims in the process that allude to a belief that a lack of English language skills can drive Muslim women to radicalisation, he has harmed his own cause and has yet again further stigmatised Muslims, and in doing so has both antagonised and alienated communities. There is absolutely no evidence to support this view and it is extremely damaging behaviour from a Prime Minister. I hope that he now either produces evidence to back up his comments or he immediately withdraws them.”