Almost 200 historians on Wednesday denounced the "misrepresentation of slavery and empire" in the "History" section of the British citizenship test and requested a correction.
It is the latest volley in an increasingly bitter struggle for the legacy of Britain's colonial past, sparked by a wave of protests against racism triggered by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during an arrest by the US police .
"Until the history chapter has been corrected and rewritten, it should be officially withdrawn from the test," said historians in an open letter signed by 181 academics, including some from major universities across the country.
Parts of the official manual for prospective British citizens and residents to prepare for the Life in Britain exam are "fundamentally misleading and proven to be incorrect in places," they argued.
"The aim of the official handbook is to promote tolerance and fairness and to facilitate integration," they wrote.
"In the current version, the historical pages do the opposite."
Signatories included 13 fellows from the British Academy – the leading institution for the humanities and social sciences – and two former presidents of the Royal Historical Society.
The manual for the test, which contains 24 questions about British traditions and customs, covers everything from history and politics, sports, culture and culinary habits.
The signatories to the open letter argued that the manual had painted a questionable picture of historical slavery in Britain, for example by suggesting that it ended in the 18th century.
& # 39; Immediate Review & # 39; required
The guidelines also downplayed the country's role in international human trade, failing to notice the large number of British ships used to transport slaves and the large number of deaths that died.
The letter, objected to the impression, left behind the fact that the end of colonialism in the middle of the last century was an "orderly transition from empire to commonwealth".
This ignored the numerous violent uprisings against the continued British rule.
"People in the colonies and people with color in Britain are nowhere in this official story," the letter said.
"The handbook fosters the misleading view that the Empire ended simply because the British decided it was the right thing to do."
The demand for an "immediate official review" of the history chapter comes as the growing Black Lives Matter movement has drawn attention to Britain's colonial past.
In Bristol, south-west England, protesters overthrew a statue of a slave trader and a successful campaign for a college at Oxford University to remove a statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes.
Elsewhere, calls have been made to rename streets named after merchants and traders who benefited from the slave trade or slave labor.
A spokesman for the UK Home Office said the handbook "provides a starting point to explore our past and to help those who want to live permanently in Britain have a basic understanding of our society.
"We have published several editions of the manual since its publication and will continue to review the content and take into account any feedback we receive," he added.
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