Segregation and repression of women in Muslim communities in the U.K. must end, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Jan. 18. Cameron has announced a nearly $30 million fund to improve English education for Muslim migrants.
Cameron, whose policies regarding Muslim immigrants have previously been criticized by the Muslim Council of Britain, said the lack of integration with mainstream society has allowed for "appalling" practices in Muslim communities, such as female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
The language fund will aim to help the 22 percent of Muslim women in the U.K. who have little or no English skills.
Cameron raised the idea that migrants who do not improve their English may not be allowed to stay in Britain. While there are no plans to remove people without a certain level of English, language skills are a consideration when a person applies for visa or seeks permanent U.K. citizenship.
Cameron reportedly met Muslim women who painted "an alarming picture" of life in Muslim communities in Britain: "forced gender segregation, discrimination, and social isolation from mainstream British life."
"In this country, women and girls are free to choose how they live, how they dress, and who they love," Cameron said, according to the International Business Times. "It's our values that make this country what it is, and it's only by standing up for them assertively that they will endure."
The new initiative also seeks to combat extremism. Cameron told the BBC that teaching Muslim migrants English could make them "more resilient against the messages of Daesh."
"I'm not saying there's some sort of causal connection between not speaking English and becoming an extremist -- of course not; that would be a ridiculous thing to say," he added. "But if you're not able to speak English, you're not able to integrate. You may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is, and you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh."