British imams 'could be asked to preach in English' to tackle extremism

Samuel Osborne
Counter-extremism taskforce reportedly working on plans amid concerns preaching in foreign languages encourages societal divisions: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Imams could be asked to deliver sermons in English under new measures to tackle extremism.

The Government's counter-extremism taskforce is reportedly working on plans amid concerns preaching in foreign languages encourages divisions within society.

“If imams are speaking in another language it makes it far harder to know if radicalisation is taking place," a senior Government source told The Sunday Telegraph.

The plans are said to have been inspired by some Middle Eastern countries which have requested sermons be published online in English.

Other proposals reportedly include tougher licensing rules for foreign imams. Currently, preachers must be able to speak English before they are granted a visa.

However, imams already in the UK will not face a change in licensing because it could be regarded as a limit on religious freedom, the paper reported.

Last year, former Prime Minister David Cameron called for more imams to speak English to guide them away from Isis's "poisonous rhetoric".

“When I was sat in a mosque in Leeds this week one of the young people there said how important it is that imams speak English because if you have got young people, sometimes who speak English themselves but not Urdu and not Arabic, they need someone to guide them away from Isil and their poisonous rhetoric," he said.

In 2007, a survey of 300 mosques found 6 per cent of imams spoke English as a first language.

A Government spokesman said: “There are no plans to license Imams or require Imams to have a minimum level of English language proficiency beyond visa requirements already in place."

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes