By Mark Duell
Muslim communities are not like others in Britain and the country should accept they will never integrate, the former head of the equalities watchdog has claimed.
Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said it was disrespectful to assume that Muslim communities would change.
He told a meeting at the Policy Exchange think tank in Westminster on Monday that Muslims ‘see the world differently from the rest of us’.
According to The Times, he said: ‘Continuously pretending that a group is somehow eventually going to become like the rest of us is perhaps the deepest form of disrespect.
‘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.’
Mr Phillips added that people of certain backgrounds in the UK are not 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 insisted that members of the religion are compatible with UK life, and believes that the idea of demanding change from Muslims has promoted discrimination.
A spokesman for the organization told The Times: ‘It assumes that Muslims are not equal, and not civilized enough to be part and parcel of British society, which they most certainly are.’
The Prime Minister has previously made clear that integration failures have allowed extremist ideas to gain traction – resulting in around 700 British Muslims traveling to Syria to join Islamic State.
Counter-terror police say about half are thought to have returned and could pose a threat.
And last week David Cameron launched a new drive to counter extremism by calling on more Muslim women to learn English in the hope that they will turn into more powerful moderating forces.
Mr Phillips, 62, who is known for his outspoken views, hit the headlines last March when he claimed Britain was silencing debate on race issues by ‘intimidating’ those who dare to ask questions.
In a devastating critique of a culture of misguided political correctness, he claimed far too many people felt unable to speak their minds because they feared being branded racist.
Mr Phillips said people would have to become ‘more ready to offend each other’ as the price of free speech, and attacked the ‘racket’ of multiculturalism which took root under Tony Blair’s government.
Muslims, who first arrived in Britain about three centuries ago as sailors working for the East India Company, had a UK population of 2.7million in 2011 - dramatically up from 1.6million in 2001.