MUSLIM leaders have criticised David Cameron over his controversial speech on immigration.
The Tory Prime Minister was in Romsey yesterday where he unveiled his government’s plans for immigration.
He said a cap on immigrant numbers would ‘mean net migration... in the order of tens of thousands each year, not the hundreds of thousands’.
During his 45-minute speech he also claimed that significant numbers of new people arriving in neighbourhoods had created ‘a kind of discomfort and disjointedness’.
Yasin Rahim, director of interfaith at Wessex Jamaat, based in Fareham, hit out at the PM’s comments, saying: ‘He talks about discomfort in communities, but we are people who help make up the community.
‘So who is he talking about?
‘He is using immigration as a way to divert attention from his chaotic mess over the NHS and unpopular cuts, when elections are coming up.
‘Cameron says his party has improved but this shows that nothing has changed.
‘We are the community he talks about, yet he tells us we are a problem.’
Mr Rahim had applied to attend the meeting, but was told he couldn’t go as the audience had already been chosen.
‘I suggested I could attend as a leader of a Muslim community close by,’ he said. ‘The PM says he wants a conversation about immigration, but who with? Why choose Romsey, rather than Southampton or Portsmouth where there are larger immigrant communities to talk to directly?’
Secretary of Jami Mosque, Fayzur Raman, added: ‘I am shocked by some of what he said. We are working hard to build this country up.’
But Portsmouth North Conservative Party chairman Donna Jones, who attended the speech, said: ‘Mr Cameron and the coalition’s policy on immigration is good. He wants people to take English tests before they come to live here, and people should speak the language if they come here.
‘They shouldn’t be able to come and just have a child, claim a council house and live on benefits. People here will be looked after, and the system will be improved.
‘Romsey was chosen because it’s close to councils the party’s targeting at the local elections, and because immigration was an issue raised on doorsteps in Romsey at the General Election.’
MR CAMERON’S speech was criticised yesterday.
Vince Cable, the government’s business secretary, described it as ‘very unwise’, and said it ‘risks inflaming extremism’.
But the PM hopes his speech, delivered to Tory party faithful in Romsey, will be remembered for its call for ‘good immigration, not mass immigration’, rather than the words ‘immigration is too high... significant numbers of new people has created discomfort’.
Party members have welcomed the start of a debate on immigration, but to others, the address seemed more condemnation than conversation.