British Prime Minister David Cameron’s scheme to teach Muslim women English and Mail Online columnist, Katie Hopkin’s view that Muslim women should “Fit in or Fuck off”: these attitudes are simply the tip of the societal iceberg when it comes to views on Muslim women. Or, as comedian, Russell Brand more curtly put it, they are “just the pus emerging from the pimple of our policy”. Prejudiced individuals don’t simply materialize without something causing them to be so, and in this case it is the mechanics of money and power at the top of British society.
Men are equally likely to support ISIS
Cameron announced this month that he would provide £20 million for teaching English to Muslim women in Britain. He warns that failure to learn the language will result in deportation. In doing so he apparently intends to help these women integrate and ensure that they are less susceptible to terrorist propaganda. But the move has prompted a backlash among Muslim women and spectators alike.
The Prime Minister’s language teaching scheme is condemned for singling 190,000 Muslim women out of 850,000 British residents who don’t speak English, for stereotyping Muslim women, denying them a voice, treating foreign women as did British colonizers, and provoking further extremism. Even if English proficiency was the magic remedy for terrorist recruitment (which studies show it isn’t), men are equally likely to support ISIS, making the focus on integrating women nonsensical.
Cameron claims that his initiative will empower Muslim women to participate in society beyond the confines of their homes, where they are supposedly bossed around by patriarchal husbands and fathers. But, as a review by the Library of Congress has shown, such women are usually oppressed by austerity and government policies, same as everyone else.
The rise of the far right is willfully exacerbated by bosses and bankers interfering in politics
Katie Hopkins echoed Cameron’s flawed reasoning, but with much irritation that her own tax payments would be funding this mission to make Muslim women “fit in”. According to her, they require English lessons because “Their husbands often prefer their wives to be mute to the outside world.” Hopkin’s adds with vehemence “if you aren’t seeking to fit in, integration was never top of your agenda. In which case you aren’t migrating into Britain, you are colonizing it”: pretty harsh considering people migrate to flee poverty or war often exacerbated by Euro-America.
Hopkins’s writing is only one example of the bitter twists on reality churned out by the mostly conservative British press, from Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail and the numerous holdings of global media magnate Rupert Murdoch. A former editor of the Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper, Kelvin MacKenzie, described his own paper’s readership as “the bloke you see in the pub, a right old fascist, wants to send the wogs back, buy his poxy council house.”
So the Mail, the most visited English-language news site online, is packed with falsehoods and half-truths targeted at vulnerable people, and Cameron’s new initiative is not what he says it is. It is not going to prevent Islamic extremism or integrate more immigrants into society. Instead it will alienate Muslims further and reveals Cameron’s hopes for winning power from a desperate electorate, increasingly attracted to the far-right policies of UKIP. Such parties deceive the public into presuming that immigration is causing their current financial misery. Meanwhile, the rise of the right is willfully exacerbated by big business bosses and bankers interfering in politics. They donate thousands of pounds to parties they know will make this their advantage with relaxed business regulation, life peerages and even influence over political policies.
This wealth, handed to them on a plate, is of great advantage to political parties’ success. Donations to the Conservative party exceed that given to all other UK parties, skyrocketing in the run up to the 2015 election to nearly £29 million. By pushing for a hike in the campaign spending limit, whilst hindering funding to opposition parties, their wealth helped to secure their win.
The wide scale of ‘dark money’ bolstering the right has recently been uncovered by journalist, Jane Mayer. In America too, wealthy conservative voters use their money to shape the media and universities, as well as politics. Murdoch is among those who influences politicians with his wealth, bribing the British government and the police to keep quiet about the phone-hacking scandal uncovered in 2007. The CEO of global media, Murdoch is one of the most powerful men in the world with an annual income of $8.1 million not including bonuses.
The political right and business tycoons are playing a win-win game in which the only losers are members of the public. Minority groups such as Muslim women have their interests decided for them, and this is rooted in a flimsy regulation system that ensures the increased power and wealth of society’s elite. If Cameron was really interested in language integration of immigrants, he may not have decided to cut funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses across the country.
Hopkins and Cameron’s views on Muslim women should not be thought of in isolation. There is a reason these women were ignored when Cameron drew up plans to teach them English. He was playing it safe and sticking to the status quo. These public figures are just individuals caught up within the bigger picture: a dysfunctional political and economic system encompassing the media and politics.
Image: Kamyar Adl