British Muslim groups criticised Prime Minister David Cameron for suggesting that lack of English-speaking skills among Muslim women was related to extremism. While the Muslim Women’s Council expressed their appreciation of the £20 million (Rs 2 billion) language fund he launched to help Muslim women, they accused him of “demonising” and “marginalising” their community, Reuters reported.

Cameron said on Sunday that immigrants who have lived in the country for more than two and a half years – including those who moved on a five-year spousal visa – will have to pass an English test to prove that their language skills have improved or face being deported. He also said the “traditional submissiveness of Muslim women” prevented them from speaking up against radical Islam, which in turn made young men even more vulnerable to radicalisation.

His plans were criticised by Baroness Warsi, the first Conservative Muslim cabinet minister under Cameron’s last parliament. She said on Twitter, “And why should it just be Muslim women who have the opportunity to learn English? Why not anyone who lives in the UK and can’t speak English?”

Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain Shuja Shafi warned the prime minister against singling out Muslim women, adding that Muslims made up only one-third of the minority population. In addition, Executive Director of the Muslim Women’s Network UK Faeeza Vaid emphasised that “broader societal issues of institutional patriarchy, discrimination and Islamophobia” were to more to blame for Muslim women’s lack of integration in the society than their language skills.