Muslim women learning English will help integration in Britain: Cameron

At least 190,000 Muslim women living in Britain — 22 percent of the local Muslim population — are unable to speak English, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday.

He announced the launch of a $30 million English language tuition fund to help combat social isolation of Muslim women.

Cameron said Muslim women aiming to live permanently in Britain must become fluent in English to qualify for a British passport, adding the “passive tolerance” of separate communities must end to help Britain build a strong society.

Cameron said issues like gender segregation and discrimination and the isolation of some women in society could lead to a slide towards radicalisation and extremism.

He added: “With English language and women’s empowerment as our next frontier, I believe we can bring Britain together and build the stronger society that is within reach.”

The proposed language classes for Muslim women will take place in homes, schools and community facilities.

New visa rules mean women coming to Britain on a spouse visa will have to become more fluent in English, with a new language test for those seeking a visa extension after two-and-a-half years in Britain.