Trevor Phillips
Trevor Phillips, former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said it could be that Muslims 'see the world different from the rest of us' Oli Scarff/Getty

Expecting Muslims to change in order to conform to societal expectations is "the deepest form of disrespect", the former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said. Trevor Phillips said that the UK should accept that the Muslim community would not integrate in the same way as other groups, and demanding a change in their behaviour implies that they "haven't seen the light".

Speaking at a Policy Exchange think-tank meeting yesterday (26 January 2016), Phillips 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 from the rest of us." Muslims comprise 2.7 million, or 5%, of the UK population.

His comments come a week after Prime Minister David Cameron said that people who do not pass an English test cannot stay in Britain. Writing in The Times, the Conservative leader also announced a £20m ($28.6m) fund to "make sure every woman from isolated communities with no English at all has access to classes, whether through community groups or further education colleges."

Seemingly responding to Cameron's claim that political correctness stops us from identifying a "separatist mentality", Phillips said: "Part of the integration process is for the rest of us to grasp that people aren't going to change their views simply because we are constantly telling them that basically they should be like us."

Phillips's remarks have been met with strong criticism on social media, with one Twitter user accusing him of "pandering to Islamophobia", while others simply dismissed his claims. Fiyaz Mughal, head of the Tell Mama charity that measures hate crimes against Muslims, dismissed the comments, saying they "assume that Muslims as a whole have views that are inherently different to other communities and that the 'world view' of Muslims is different to other communities".

Mughal added: "There are Muslims fully integrated into our society that have a 'world view' no different to others and the only difference is they pray five times a day."