When UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced twenty million pounds funding to teach Muslim women to speak English, he argued it would help fight ‘radicalisation’, make them less isolated and move towards a truly ‘One Nation’ Britain.
The proposals were both farcical and sinister at once.
It was farcical because the ridiculous simplicity of the ideas (that Muslim women need language skills more than other men and women; that this makes radicalisation more likely in their families; that this leads to terrorism; that there are thousands of nasty Muslim men out there trying to seek to imprison their wives and daughters) was like hearing a monologue from a cheap, racist, third-rate, 1970s standup comedian.
But the fact that the Prime Minister of this country singled out Muslim women in this way, making headline news and policies with a series of anecdotes and generalizations, is deeply sinister.
After paying lip service to criticizing Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women, he proceeded to fuel misconceptions about them, and the community of which they are a part.
Whatever his caveats at the start of his article – that it’s not all Muslim women, and it’s not only Muslim women (but stopping short of saying some of my best friends are Muslim women) – the main result of his article was to talk about Muslims, not speaking English and radicalisation.
The Prime Minister of Britain is not a fool to pen an argument in the Times, owned by his good friend Rupert Murdoch. He is a master communicator and knew exactly what he was doing, playing to the ignorance and basest prejudices of people in Britain who are affected by the constant negative press about immigration, ‘terrorism’ and Muslims in general.
But beyond this nasty message, Cameron has at least done everyone a favour by exposing the true nature of initiatives supposedly aimed at ‘community cohesion’ and countering-extremism. Just like his ‘guru’, Tony Blair, Cameron casually conflated two very different things: terrorism with a lack of integration – and then repeated his pride in ‘muscular liberalism’, effectively showing that this agenda is not about security as much as it is about values and beliefs.
If he cared about language skills, he would have included the numerous European, Indian and Sri Lankan people in Britain who have yet to master the language. He might have protested that 40% of five year olds lack basic literacy skills. If he cared about the well-being of women, he might have addressed a report that emerged exactly one year ago that a third of UK women university students reported being sexually assaulted on campus. And if he had cared about community cohesion, he certainly wouldn’t have stoked prejudices in this overtly clumsy way.
Cameron is not concerned if people are law abiding or productive citizens. He is a supremacist – a muscular liberal supremacist, who wants to force people who share different social, economic and political values to adopt those he has decided are ‘British’. The unwritten message is that Britain cannot accommodate people of different beliefs, values and viewpoints. Pluralism, if it ever existed, is dead. Muslims can cite the Qur’an that there is no compulsion in belief, and liberals can cite Cameron that Britain must compel its citizens to be one ‘liberal’ nation.
It is a prime example of forced conversion for those ‘annoying Muslims’ who have thus far resisted his liberal secular vision of the world – and if they don’t, he will cancel their passports, send them back ‘home’ and be rid of them, Ferdinand and Isabella style.
Many Muslims and non-Muslims will look t Cameron’s latest fad with amusement. But the more serious amongst them will see that Cameron’s British values include an ‘extreme’ intolerance towards any Muslim who believes in Islamic values and who dissents from official British policy.