As I arrive in Brussels to discuss Islamophobia and gender, Brill’s Journal of Muslims in Europe has (unusually) allowed me to make available a copy of my latest article, “Exploring the Impact of Islamophobia on Visible Muslim Women Victims: A British Case Study”.
For those interested, the abstract is copied below and the article can be downloaded here.
Exploring the Impact of Islamophobia on Visible Muslim Women Victims: A British Case Study
This article presents the empirical findings from a British-based project that sought to explore the nature and impact of ‘street-level’ Islamophobia on women who are visibly recognisable as Muslim—hereafter referred to as visible Muslim women in this article. Drawing on the findings from in-depth interviews with twenty visible Muslim women, this article highlights how despite the fact that such Islamophobia is largely manifested in low-level ways it has significant impacts on the everyday lives of its victims as also the way in which their identities are both perceived and defined. In doing so, this article considers how the experience of Islamophobia not only affects the daily life of these women and their families, but also affects their sense of belonging to British society while making them re-evaluate how they feel about being British.
Below is a link to a debate on Theresa May’s proposed counter-extremism measures I participated in for Voice of Russia last week (7th October 2014). Also taking part were Aina Khan (head of the Islamic department at Duncan Lewis solicitors),
Myriam Francois-Syrah (writer and broadcaster) and Ben Harris-Quinney (Chairman of the Bow Group – a Conservative think tank).
You can view the Voice of Russia page here.
Pasted below are the first few paragraphs from a short piece I was invited to write for The Conversation in response to the news last Friday that UKIP had won its first seat in the House of Commons.
To read the article in full, click here.
Humiliated party leaders still can’t deal with the UKIP threat
“Something big is happening here.”
Those were the words of Nigel Farage following the news that Douglas Carswell had become UKIP’s first member of parliament by attracting 21,113 votes in the Clacton by-election.
While his victory came via a 60% swing from the Conservatives to UKIP, it was in many ways unsurprising given that Carswell had swung that way himself just a few months ago, resigning as Conservative MP for the Essex coastal town when he defected to UKIP.
But some 200 miles away, something even more significant was happening in another by-election. In Heywood and Middleton, a small constituency on the outskirts of Manchester, Liz McInnes just held the seat for Labour despite UKIP’s John Bickley winning 11,016 votes – a 17.65% swing from Labour that cut its majority to a mere 617 votes.
Something big is indeed happening here – and clearly, it’s not just the Conservatives who should be looking over their shoulders.
To read on, click here.
Shortly after Theresa May announced her new counter-extremism powers at the Conservative Party conference on 29th September 2014, I appeared on the Tony Livesey show on BBC Radio 5 Live to give my initial thoughts.
Another article of mine has been published today, again writing for The Conversation UK – an online collaboration between editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish.
Today’s piece relates to the suggestion last week by a senior government aide about the possibility of the far-right expanding both in terms of numbers of supporters as also the number of groups emerging.
To read the piece on The Conversation’s website – which includes appropriate links – click here.
Alternatively, read on below:
The far right is changing but its anti-Islam message remains
A UK government adviser has suggested that at least five new groups have emerged within the past month to stake a claim to the far-right in the UK. And according to that adviser, the catalyst for their growth has been the increasing presence of Islamic State in the Middle East and the fallout from the inquiry into child sex abuse in Rotherham.
Over the past decade and a half, far-right organisation in the UK and Europe have sought to gain political influence by promoting various incarnations of an insidious anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim ideology. They have taken the kind of discourse once used against Jews and Judaism and applied it to Muslims and Islam. These groups have sought to justify this by claiming the need to halt what they perceive to be the Islamification of Europe.
To celebrate 2014’s European Day of Action Against Islamophobia and Religious Intolerance, I wrote this reflective piece that was published on the No Hate website, available here.
I’ve also copied the piece below:
A Personal Reflection on Islamophobia
It is almost 15 years since I first began researching the phenomenon of Islamophobia. At the time, I could not believe that more was not being done to tackle it: why were we allowing a situation where real people were being allowed to be routinely prejudiced, discriminated and vilified just because of their religion or how they look? Why, more worryingly, were we allowing people to become victims of crime, abuse, assault and more without doing something about it? It failed to make sense then and it fails to make sense today.
That 15 years has been a long and at times, troubling journey. My research has been shaped by events such as 9/11 and 7/7, by a newly resurgent explicitly anti-Muslim, anti-Islam far-right across Europe, by the barbaric killing of Lee Rigby on the streets of London and more recently, the equally barbaric atrocities of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. All have catalysed hatred against ordinary Muslims going about their everyday lives whilst adding fuel to the fire of those desperate to voice their belief that Islamophobia just doesn’t exist.
Despite such protestations, I have repeatedly come across and indeed contributed evidence to prove that Islamophobia is indeed a very real and dangerous phenomenon. One of the first times I saw this was when I was commissioned to explore Islamophobia in the EU following 9/11 by the European Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia. The evidence showed that across the breadth of Europe, Muslim and other vulnerable communities became routine targets of increased hostility and hatred. Some of this was manifested in terms of physical violence but most was in the form of verbal abuse, harassment and aggression. Muslim women and those who were more ‘visually’ Muslim were the most likely victims whilst mosques were also widely targeted. Sadly but also unsurprisingly, the research I did with Arshad Isakjee and Özlem Young into street-level Islamophobia in Britain showed that more than a decade on, little had in fact changed with visible Muslim women being disproportionate victims of discrimination, bigotry, hate and violence.
I continue to reflect on why this might be so.
Last week, on the 11th and 12th September 2014, I held an exhibition of my research from the past 15 years into the phenomenon of Islamophobia. Titled, “Islamophobia: from pavement to parliament” the exhibition was held at the University of Birmingham’s Think Corner pop-up space in the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Birmingham city centre.
Over the two days I sought to use different approaches to explain to the general public how my research into Islamophobia has gone beyond the mere academic, helping to raise awareness of the experiences of those who become victims of street-level anti-Muslim hate as also trying to shape and influence political thinking about how best to tackle this unwanted and un-necessary phenomenon. This is where the title came about, from ‘pavement to parliament’.
As part of this, I also gave a ‘cafe-scientifique’ style talk on the evening of the 11th. Entitled, “Islamophobia: why it matters to Birmingham” the talk set out a number of reasons why – if Birmingham is to be a successful, cohesive and integrated city in the future – we need to work together to tackle Islamophobia as indeed all other forms of discrimination, bigotry and hate. You can listen to the talk on Soundcloud by clicking here.
Over the two days, I engaged with around 50 or so people, most of whom would never have encountered my research and so on that basis alone, the exhibition was a success.
To find out more about Think Corner, click here.
Below is a recording of my appearance on BBC Radio WM’s breakfast show on Tuesday 2nd September 2014 during which time I chat with Pete Morgan about the shadow cast by the Operation Trojan Horse allegations in the light of the hearing of the Education Select Committee and the return of Birmingham’s schools for the new academic year.
As school children from across the country return to schools, my latest article for The Conversation considers what impact the allegations and fallout from Operation Trojan Horse will have on Birmingham, its schools, its children and its communities. To read the article in full, click here.
Below are the first few paragraphs:
Shadow of extremism scandal lingers as Birmingham goes back to school
If a week is a long time in politics, then the school summer holidays must have seemed like a lifetime the for governors, teachers, pupils and staff at the 21 schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse plot in Birmingham.