JOURNAL: Islamophobia and the Problematization of Mosques: A Critical Exploration of Hate Crimes and the Symbolic Function of “Old” and “New” Mosques in the United Kingdom – Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs

JMMAReally pleased to announce – and share – details about my new publication in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. First published in 1979, the Journal is an established and highly respected and widely acclaimed academic and scholarly publication that is known for providing accurate, reliable and objective information on Muslim minority communities worldwide and so I am hugely honoured to have an article published in it.

My piece is titled, “Islamophobia and the Problematization of Mosques: A Critical Exploration of Hate Crimes and the Symbolic Function of “Old” and “New” Mosques in the United Kingdom” and begins to explore how ‘old’ mosques are the targets of hate crimes as regularly as ‘new’ mosques despite there being very little scholarly inquiry into this. For this reason, I think that the findings are groundbreaking.

The article can be viewed here although be warned, if you don’t have an institutional subscription you may be asked to pay (listen to my talk on open access to hear my views about this model of publishing). Below, I’ve reproduced the abstract – enjoy.

Abstract

Most scholarly studies have tended to focus on the building of new and proposed mosques, and in particular how they are sites of conflict and contestation symbolic of wider “problems” associated with Muslims and Islam in the United Kingdom. This study focuses on an overlooked aspect within this, the extent to which attacks on mosques that are neither new nor proposed perform a similar symbolic function. Presenting new empirical evidence from research undertaken with ten mosques across the United Kingdom that had been targeted for attack, we begin by exploring the existing literature on the problematization of mosques using the lens of critical Islamophobia studies to do so. Setting out what is known about attacks on mosques in the British setting, empirical findings from the research are used to illustrate the type and manifestation of attacks experienced, going on to consider the drivers and catalysts for them. Exploring the similarities and differences between the conflict and contestation associated with new mosques and the attacks on mosques that are not new, this study concludes that some resonance exists in the symbolic function mosques continue to serve in the community. In conclusion, the significant resonance between Islamophobically motivated attacks against mosques with those against the individuals is considered.

View the article by clicking here.

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EVIDENCE: Home Affairs Select Committee on Hate Crime & its Violent Consequences

me-select-cmttee-dec-2016Yesterday I was invited to give evidence at a hearing of the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of its ongoing inquiry into hate crime and its violent consequences. The hearing took place at Portcullis House, Westminster, was chaired by the Rt Hon Yvette Cooper and included among its panel the Labour MP Naz Shah. As well as being broadcast live, the hearing is also available on the Parliament website, available by clicking here (my session starts at around 15:50 in the slide bar under the images).

You can also download an audio file of the hearing directly from the same webpage, the link is available from the bottom right of the screen.

 

Comment: As Trump Becomes President-Elect, Islamophobic Hate Crimes Surge Across America – El Estudiante

trump-2Here’s a short comment piece I wrote for the newly created El Estudiante website about the sharp rise in Islamophobic hate crimes that has been evident across the US since Trump’s success was announced just over a week ago. To view the piece in its original form, click here.

As Trump Becomes President-Elect, Islamophobic Hate Crimes Surge Across America

Since the results of the US election were announced last week America has borne witness to a sharp increase in Islamophobic hate crimes. For instance, in Ann Arbor, a female Muslim student at the University of Michigan was approached by a stranger who threatened to set her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab. In Georgia, a female Muslim high school teacher in Georgia was being left an anonymous note. Scribbled on it was a message stating that her ‘headscarf isn’t allowed anymore’. It went on to suggest that once she had removed her hijab, she could use it to hang herself. Likewise in Ohio, a Muslim woman along with her children and elderly parents were threatened by a man while they were stopped in their car at traffic lights. Shouting obscenities at the terrified family, the man told the woman that ‘she doesn’t belong in this country’. In many ways, it is somewhat unsurprising that such an upsurge in Islamophobic hate crimes has coincided with Donald Trump’s emergence as president-elect.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit organisation that tracks hate groups and hate crimes, this post-election upsurge has been manifested in more than 300 recorded incidents of ‘hateful harassment and intimidation’. To give the number some context, the SPLC report that 300 incidents is more typical of the number of Islamophobic incidents reported to them in a five to six month period rather a six or seven day equivalent. In a statement from the SPLC, the catalyst for this unprecedented surge has been “Trump’s hate-filled campaign”.

To read on, click here.

Comment: Riposte – Dr Chris Allen comments on recent MET statistics indicating a 70% rise in islamophobic attacks in London

soasHere’s my piece I wrote for MuslimWise, a blog linked to SOAS at the University of London.

RIPOSTE: Dr Chris Allen comments on recent MET statistics indicating a 70% rise in islamophobic attacks in London

In the past couple of weeks, much has been made of the Metropolitan Police data showing that the number of Islamophobic hate crimes recorded increased by 70% in the past year. Amounting to 816 Islamophobic hate crimes in total, this was the second successive year that numbers had risen in London. In 2014, the 478 hate crimes recorded indicated an increase of more than 60% on the preceding year. A particularly concerning trend was that Islamophobic hate crimes increased in every London borough. While the most dramatic could be seen in Waltham Forest and Merton (showing increases of 270% and 263% respectively), notable increases were also evident in Islington (175%), Lewisham (160%), Hackney (137%) and Lambeth (135%).

In trying to explain these increases, the Metropolitan Police’s hate crime lead, Commander Mark Chishty suggested that it was down to the fact that greater numbers of people were increasingly aware of how to report hate crimes. Fiyaz Mughal (CEO of Tell MAMA) however was less convinced. Questioning the epiphany necessary to prompt significant numbers of people to report Islamophobic hate crime to the police, Mughal cited data collected by Tell MAMA to suggest that the increases were simply because “there were possibly more anti-Muslim hate incidents”.

To some extent, both explanations have some truth in them.

To continue reading, click here.

OPINION: “Islamophobic Hate Crime up 70% in London, Some Thoughts” – Huffington Post

huffington-post-logoFollowing the news that Islamophobic hate crime has increased by 70% in London over the past year, I wrote a short article for the Huffington Post that raises a number of timely considerations. To read the article in full, click here.

Islamophobic Hate Crime up 70% in London, Some Thoughts

Statistics released by the Metropolitan Police reveal that the number of Islamophobic hate crimes in London has increased by 70% in the past year. For the year ending July 2015, the Met recorded a total of 816 Islamophobic hate crimes; in 2014, the number was 478, itself an increase of around 65% on the previous year. Increases were evident across every London borough, the most staggering in Waltham Forest and Merton where the numbers of Islamophobic hate crimes increased by 270% and 263% respectively. Other boroughs of note include Islington (175%), Lewisham (160%), Hackney (137%) and Lambeth (135%).

Three thoughts emerge.

The first was to think about how those on the Islamophobia spectrum have sought to dismiss out of hand the very existence of the exact same phenomenon. Typically justifying such a view on a perceived lack of evidence that ‘proves’ Islamophobia exists, they point to the dearth of Islamophobia-specific official or governmental data that has been historically available. As I have argued here in the Huffington Post, a lack of evidence about ‘numbers’ alone does not mean that Islamophobia is not taking place, quite the contrary in fact. As with my own research, there is now ample qualitative evidence which poignantly illustrates the ugly realities of contemporary Islamophobia, detrimentally impacting the everyday lives of too many ordinary people who become victims solely because they happen to be identified as being Muslim. It will be interesting to see how those who reject Islamophobia will seek to counter these new statistics.

To continue reading, click here.

Journal: ‘People hate you because of the way you dress’ – understanding the experiences of British Muslim women victims of Islamophobia, International Review of Victimology

IRVMy new article, “‘People hate you because of the way you dress’: understanding the invisible experiences of veiled British Muslim women victims of Islamophobia” is now available online via the journal, The International Review of Victimology. It can be read by clicking here.

For those of you who want to know more, the abstract is reproduced below:

Chakraborti and Zempi (2012) argued for the need to increase awareness of the gendered facets of Islamophobia in order to shed light on and improve understanding of the overlooked and negated ‘invisible’ victimisation of veiled Muslim women in the public spaces of contemporary western society. In seeking to shed light and improve understanding about this process, this article sets out the findings from a project that interviewed 20 veiled British Muslim women who had been victims of Islamophobia and had reported their experience to the British government-funded service Tell MAMA (measuring anti-Muslim attacks). Reflecting on what is contemporarily known about Islamophobia, and in particular what is known about Islamophobia’s relationship with gender, this article sets out the thematically considered empirical findings from the project in order to better understand why Islamophobic incidents against veiled Muslim women are ‘neither seen nor heard’. In doing so, the article considers the ways in which the visibility and invisibility of veiled Muslim women function in order to reduce and essentialise veiled Muslim women through the symbolism of the veil, thereby becoming seen as the physical embodiment of all that is considered to be problematic and threatening about Muslims and Islam per se.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.