I’ve recently had my first article published that was translated into Turkish. Titled, “İslamofobinin Kolay Hedefleri”, the piece was published in the German periodical Perspektif and is available in both print and online versions. To read the online version, click here.
For those of you who don’t read Turkish, an English version is pasted below (the published version may however be slightly different):
Easy Goals of Islamophobia
A few weeks ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that two Muslim women – one in Belgium, the other in France – who were dismissed by their employers for wearing headscarves did not suffer direct discrimination. The decision was made on the basis that employers are within their rights to ban visible political or religious clothing and symbols in the workplace as long as it is part of a requirement for all staff to dress ‘neutrally’. Contrary to an earlier ruling by the European Court of Human Rights upholding the rights of employees to display religious symbols at work, the ECJ ruling has been interpreted by some as Islamophobic given it will likely impact Muslim women employees the most due to their Islamic clothing in particular being seen to be more objectionable and therefore less neutral than other religious traditions. In some ways, the decision is unsurprising.
For many years, European Muslim women – especially ‘visible’ Muslim women – have been increasingly un-noticeable not least because their mere presence and recognition goes some way towards disrupting the order of normality within Western societies. The evidence for this is most obvious in the banning of certain aspects of Muslim women’s appearance and attire in such countries as Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy and Switzerland. Without doubt, Muslim women are seen as being problematic. As my research has repeatedly shown, this is because the outward and visible manifestations of Muslim women have not only come to symbolise their identity but so too have they come to symbolise many of the things that are perceived to be wrong, problematic and threatening about Islam and Muslims in the West.
This was a piece I wrote a few weeks ago but for some reason ‘disappeared’ off the website ! Anyway, it’s back now and ready for sharing.
The piece was a response to the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling that two Muslim women – one in Belgium, the other in France – who were dismissed by their employers for wearing headscarves did not suffer direct discrimination. If you want to read it in full at its original home, then click here. If not, then just read on:
Does the European ruling on religious clothing suggest a move towards a more Islamophobic stance?
Last month the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled two Muslim women, one in Belgium, the other in France, who were dismissed by their employers for wearing headscarves did not suffer direct discrimination. This was on the basis that employers are within their rights to ban visible political or religious clothing and symbols in the workplace as long as it is part of a requirement for all staff to dress ‘neutrally’.
This is contrary to an earlier ruling by the European Court of Human Rights upholding the rights of employees to display religious symbols at work. The ECJ ruling has been interpreted by some as Islamophobic, given the ramifications will likely impact Muslim employees due to their Islamic clothing and symbols being seen as far more objectionable and less neutral than clothes and symbols associated with other religious traditions.
The decision also prompts debates about the extent to which views that were formerly the preserve of the far-right about Muslims and Islam have begun to shape and inform the political and policy mainstream thereby having the potential for Islamophobia to become increasingly unquestioned and worryingly ‘normal’.
For more than a decade now, Europe’s far-right milieu has been shifting their ideological focus away from the historical ‘threat’ posed by Jews and Judaism to the contemporary equivalent presented by Muslims and Islam. Citing the alleged ‘Islamification’ of certain European cities – of which the greater visibility of Muslim women has been a recurrent discourse – the argument goes that Muslims will eventually destroy the very nation states that in the words of the far-right had generously sought to afford them a new home. For the far-right, it’s all part of the ‘Islamic invasion’.
To read on, click here.
I’ve recently had a new journal article published in Political Quarterly. Focusing on the recently proscribed National Action, it is the first peer-reviewed article to be published about the British far-right group (it complements the fact that I was the first to have peer-reviewed articles published on the English Defence League and Britain First also).
At the time of publishing, the article is available to read (and download) for free by clicking here. As with most journal articles however, there will be a time when it goes behind a paywall – apologies for that.
Below is the abstract:
Proscribing National Action: Considering the Impact of Banning the British Far-Right Group
In December 2016, the British Government banned National Action for being an extremist organisation. It was the first time in British history that membership of a far-right group was outlawed. While so, little is known about the group. This article responds to this lack of knowledge by setting out the origins of National Action and its leaders, its preference for a traditionalist Nazi ideology, and its penchant for stunts and demonstrations to gain media attention and publicity. The article concludes by considering whether proscription was rather more symbolic than serious.
To read the article, click here.
To mark the one month anniversary of the Westminster attacks, I reflect on some of the claims made about Birmingham not least that it’s the ‘jihadi capital’. To read the original, click here.
Birmingham Isn’t The ‘Hotbed’ Of Islamist Extremism It Was Claimed To Be
It’s been a month since Khalid Masood drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge – injuring around 50 people and killing four – before going on to crash it into the perimeter fence of the Houses of Parliament where he stabbed to death a police officer before being shot and killed.
As soon as Masood’s identity was made public, the media homed in on how he was from Birmingham. Following a raid on his flat on the outskirts of Birmingham city centre, camera crews and journalists from the world descended on the Hagley Road address at which time I like many of my peers were called on to give interviews, most asking us to explain that which we didn’t yet know.
My remit included speaking to news outlets from Belgium, France, Switzerland and the US as also the UK. Almost all of the interviews focused on why Birmingham was a ‘capital of jihadism’, the ‘new Londonistan’, and as one a Belgian journalist put it, the new Molenbeek (the Brussels suburb where police raided a number of houses in March 2016 in connection to the Paris terror attacks four months earlier). The same was true of others too.
Among the British news media a similar line of enquiry emerged. Take for instance the Financial Times and a quote describing Birmingham as a ‘hotbed’ for Islamist activity or the Independent when it referred to the city as a ‘breeding ground for British-born terror’. It was the Daily Mail that surpassed itself and indeed all other reports. Under the rhetorical headline, ‘So how DID Birmingham become the jihadi capital of Britain?’ the piece focused on where Masood lived and hired the car used to commit the atrocities. As the Mail put it, both were “in Birmingham. Birmingham. Birmingham. Birmingham. It’s always Birmingham”. For the Mail, the blame for Masood’s actions was undoubtedly Birmingham.
To continue reading, click here.
Click here to link to my recently published journal article in Political Insight. The piece offers a critique of the PREVENT statutory duty placed on universities and higher education institutions. I have pasted the opening paragraph or so below for you to have a look at.
As with many academic journals, it’s likely that you will need to either pay or have an institutional username and password to access it. Please accept my apologies if this is the case but as you will be aware from previous posts, I always try and ensure as much of my writing is open access and available to all. Sometimes though it just cannot be avoided.
Controversy: Is Prevent Harming Universities?
In March 2015, Mohammed Umar Farooq was studying for an MA in Terrorism, Crime
and Global Security MA programme at Staffordshire University. Among the
recommended readings was a text entitled, Terrorism Studies. While sitting in the
University’s main library reading that book, a member of the University’s staff quizzed
Farooq about his religion and his attitudes towards homosexuality, and Islamic State
and al-Qaida. Following the conversation, Farooq was reported to University security
guards who proceeded to interview him on many of the same topics. After three months
of investigations, Staffordshire University eventually apologised to Farooq for the
distress caused. It chose, however, not to extend the apology to the fact that the
member of staff in question was suspicious about a terrorism student’s motivations for
reading on a book on terrorism – because Farooq had been identified as a Muslim. As the
University put it, while the member of staff had ‘misjudged’, the sight of seeing Farooq reading Terrorism Studies had raised ‘too many red flags’ not to act.
To read the rest of the article, click here.