MANCHESTER, United Kingdom – Prime Minister David Cameron used his speech to the Conservative Party Conference to pledge a new extremist crackdown, saying that all small institutions that teach children – including Madrassas – should be forced to join a national register so they can be inspected.
Speaking at the end of conference that has seen various ministers trying to position themselves as his successor, the Prime Minister also said the British people need to “keep our heads” on the migrant crisis in Europe.
“Like most people, I found it impossible to get the image of that poor Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi out of my mind,” he said before adding: “If we opened the door to every refugee our country would be overwhelmed.”
He also followed Chancellor George Osborne in pledging to protect Britain’s controversial aid budget, claiming it was helping improve the situation in Syria.
However, Mr Cameron ruled out working with Assad and called for a new Syrian government “that can be our ally in the defeat of ISIL”, although he did not go into specifics as to who should be in that government.
Addressing the decision to killed two British jihadis in a drone strike in Syria this summer, the Prime Minister said:
“This summer I was told that Reyaad Khan and Junaid Hussain were in Syria planning terrorist attacks on UK soil. Of course I asked all the proper questions: How do we stop them? Is there another way? Do we have the capability? Is it legal?
“I knew that whatever action I took would provoke a big debate, but my job as Prime Minister is quite simple really: ultimately, it’s not to debate; it’s to decide.”
Cameron also touched on the subject of Islamist extremism, saying that he wants the “child of immigrants” to feel the need to “put on a uniform” and defend Britain.
“We need to confront extremism. When I read what some young people born and brought up in this country are doing, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.
“Girls not much older than my eldest daughter, swapping loving family homes and straight-A futures for a life of servitude under ISIL, in a land of violence and oppression. Boys who could do anything they wanted in Britain – who have benefitted from all this country stands for – instead ending up in the desert wielding a knife.”
He said that Islamic extremism has become an “epidemic – infecting minds from the mosques of Mogadishu to the bedrooms of Birmingham.” – a reference to the recent Trojan Horse scandal where extremists tried to take over secular state schools and force a radical Islamist curriculum on the students.
Britain, Cameron said, also needs to “tear up the narrative that Muslims are persecuted and the West deserves what it gets” and confront “preachers telling [young Muslims] that Christians and Muslims can’t live together.”
He admitted that there are parts of Britain where “you can get by without ever speaking English or meeting anyone from another culture”. He also said that some Muslim children spend several hours a day at Madrassas where they are taught they “shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people.”
To remedy this, he promised to force all institutions that are “teaching children intensively” to register so they can be inspected.
Cameron’s speech, which also focused on a number of issues from house building to unemployment, comes at the end of a conference where various ministers tried to position themselves to succeed him when he eventually stands down.
Home Secretary Theresa May gave a strong anti-immigration speech that borrowed heavily from UKIP’s rhetoric and at times strayed well outside her ministerial brief, while London Mayor Boris Johnson positioned himself as a “one nation Tory” in a speech that mentioned much more than the UK capital.
His plan to force small independent educational institutions – especially religious ones – to register with the government will prove controversial, however.
Christian groups are already concerned that Ofsted, the school inspection group, is biased against traditional Christian values. Earlier this year, a Christian school was placed in special measures after inspectors branded children “bigots” for not knowing what a Muslim was. Inspectors also allegedly asked pupils whether they knew what lesbians did, and whether they had friends “trapped in the wrong body”.
Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: “The Government’s British values regime is twisting Ofsted’s priorities out of all proportion. Inspectors are asking all kinds of invasive questions and then issuing reports that the parents whose children attend the school don’t recognise.”