Muslims group have hit back at comments made by the former head of the equalities watchdog that their communities are not like the rest of the UK, by saying the only difference is that they "pray five times a day".
Speaking at a Policy Exchange think tank on Monday, Trevor Phillips said it was disrespectful to suppose that Muslim communities would change and that the UK should accept that they “see the world differently from the rest of us”.
“Continuously pretending that a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of us is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect,” The Times quoted him as saying.
“Because what you are essentially saying is the fact that they behave in a different way, some of which we may not like, is because they haven’t yet seen the light. It may be that they see the world differently from the rest of us.”
Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, added: “Part of the integration process is 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 Muslim Council of Britain has 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”.
Fiyaz Mughal, head of the Tell Mama charity, which campaigns against Muslim hate crimes, said Phillips' claims “assume Muslims have views that are inherently different to other communities”.
The Independent quoted Mugal as saying: “There are Muslims fully integrated into our society that have a ‘world view’ that is no different to others and the only difference is that they pray five times a day.”
Phillips' comments sparked disbelief online.
Muslims “see the world differently from the rest of us.” - Trevor Phillips. Dick.— Faizan (@fizzytweets) January 27, 2016
WTF is Trevor Phillips on about. "Muslims are not like rest of us"? Is this not what they said about Caribbeans years ago? Disappointed!— Siamak-A سیامک (@Salimi) January 27, 2016
@JUSTWYorkshire I'm not convinced - I think his point was that people should not expect Muslims to fit into a white notion of 'integration'— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) January 27, 2016
Phillips comments follow an announcement from David Cameron last week that migrants who fail to learn English should lose the chance to remain in Britain. As part of a push to bring Muslim women into mainstream society, Cameron linked the failure to integrate with an increased risk of terrorism. “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,” he said.
The Muslim Council of Britain told The Times that demanding change from Muslims encouraged people to discriminate against them.
“It assumes that Muslims are not equal, and not civilised enough to be part and parcel of British society, which they most certainly are,” the council said.
“For too long Muslims have had to endure a media echo chamber, which amplifies the misconception that Muslims and their faith are incompatible with life in Britain. We dispute that notion.”