The most senior British Asian Cabinet Minister has called for immigrants to do more to “respect our way of life”.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, newly-appointed Culture Secretary Sajid Javid – son of Pakistani immigrants – criticized migrants who have lived in Britain for years but still could not speak the language.
Voters were justified in demanding more control over Britain’s borders due to “legitimate” fears over excessive immigration”, the minister added.
Mr Javid told the Sunday Telegraph: “People want Britain to have more control over its borders, and I think they are right
“People also say, when immigrants do come to Britain, that they should come to work, and make a contribution and that they should also respect our way of life, and I agree with all of that. It means things like trying to learn English.”
While a vast majority of immigrants wanted to integrate with British society, Mr Javid criticized those who refused to do so.
“I know people myself, I have met people who have been in Britain for over 50 years and they still can’t speak English,” he says.
“I think it’s perfectly reasonable for British people to say, look, if you’re going to settle in Britain and make it your home, you should learn the language of the country and you should respect its laws and its culture.”
During the interview Mr Javid, who says he was raised to “believe in God” but does not practise his parents’ religion of Islam, also said he was concerned about an alleged plot to radicalize state school students in Birmingham by a group of extremist Muslims.
The Culture Secretary added that Sharia Law had no place in the English legal system following reports that Islamic courts had been secretly established in parts of the West Midlands and East London.
Mr Javid also sprang to the defence of Nigel Farage, the embattled leader of the UK Independence Party which has been widely condemned for being racist for its stance on immigration.
The minister told the newspaper that Mr Farage’s fears of mass immigration from Eastern Europe were shared by many Britons.
“UKIP will never allow the false accusation of racism levelled by a politically correct elite to prevent the raising of issues that are of concern to the great majority of the British public.
“The unfortunate reality is that we are in political union with a post-Communist country that has become highly susceptible to organised crime”.
“Do they (UKIP) have some candidates who have racist views? Of course, and we have seen some evidence of that recently. But I don’t think they are a racist party and I don’t think Nigel Farage is racist. I have met him and I don’t think that at all”, Mr Javid added.
Despite his background, Mr Javid has long been a sceptic when it comes to immigration and, in particular, multiculturalism.
The son of a Lahore-born bus driver, Mr Javid has enjoyed a spectacularly successful career – first in finance and subsequently in politics – despite growing up in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in northern England in difficult family circumstances.
Many say that that success – he is also being widely tipped as a future Tory party leader and Prime Minister – has merely reinforced his doubts about multiculralism.
Speaking to Muslim News in 2012 Mr Javid said: “I am proud of my Pakistani and Muslim heritage but, as I have myself said repeatedly, people who settle here should respect the British way of life, culture and traditions, and be required to learn our language.
“For too long we have championed an ideology of multiculturalism which has created divides rather than broken them down.”