Muslims are not like others in Britain, claims former UK race equality chief

Muslim communities are unlike others in Britain and will not integrate in the same way, the United Kingdom’s former head of the equalities watchdog claimed on Wednesday.

“It was disrespectful to suppose that Muslim communities would change,” The Times quoted former chairman of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, as saying during his interview with the Policy Exchange think tank.

Phillips, who remained the chairman of EHRC between 2003 and 2012, asserted that continuously pretending that “a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of the British citizens is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect.”

The former chairman suggested that his country should accept that Muslims “see the world differently from the rest of us,” claiming the part of the integration process was for “the rest of us to grasp that people aren’t going to change their views simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us.”

The claims of the former equalities chief come days after British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that people who do not pass an English language test cannot stay in Britain, in a bid to close the cultural gap and bring those on the fringes of society into the mainstream.

Cameron linked the failure to integrate into British society to an increased risk of extremism. Muslims make up five per cent of the UK’s population, with around 2.7 million currently living in Britain.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain said asking Muslims to change “assumes that Muslims are not equal, and not civilised enough to be part and parcel of British society, which they most certainly are.”

“Phillips’ claims assume Muslims have views that are inherently different to other communities,” said Fiyaz Mughal, head of the Tell Mama charity, which campaigns against Muslim hate crimes.

“There are Muslims fully integrated into our society that have world view that is no different to others and the only difference is that they pray five times a day,” Mughal added.

Phillips had previously caused outrage after he defended the Danish cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) by saying people should be able to offend each other. Besides, he had branded multiculturalism as a failure, and said a black candidate cannot rise to the top in British politics because of institutional racism.

This article originally appeared on The Independent.

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