The former head of the United Kingdom’s equality commission has said that Muslims are unlike their non-Muslim neighbors and suggested that the country might just have to accept that they may never integrate into British society.
Trevor Phillips, past chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, accused those who promote the idea that Muslims will eventually change and become more like other Britons of exhibiting the “deepest form of disrespect.”
Speaking Monday at the Policy Exchange, a research organization, Phillips said that Muslim communities “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,” he said, according to quotes posted Wednesday in the Times of London.
“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 to the rest of us,” he said according to the Daily Mail.
People will not change “simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us,” he added.
Prime Minister David Cameron has emphasized the importance of integrating Muslims into British society in order to combat the allure of the Islamic State.
After warning last week that the spouses of migrants who don’t pass an English-language proficiency test may have to leave the country, Cameron told the BBC, using the Islamic State Arabic acronym, “[I]f you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is and you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh.”
Phillips has previously voiced criticism of multiculturalism, saying that Muslims who wish to live under Shariah law should leave the U.K.
Following Muslim protests of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Phillips said that Muslims must accept that freedom of speech is a key component of British life, even if it offends some.