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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COMMENT: Britain must address the pervasive ‘white noise’ against Muslims – The Conversation

conversation-full-logo2Here’s a piece I wrote for the always excellent The Conversation. Titled, “Britain must address the pervasive ‘white noise’ against Muslims” the piece was written in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque. You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below.

Britain must address the pervasive ‘white noise’ against Muslims

On hearing the news that Darren Osborne was arrested for terror offences including attempted murder following an attack on a group of Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque, it would have been easy to jump to the conclusion that the act was motivated by far-right ideologies.

But, while it would appear Osborne followed both Paul Golding and Jayda Francis – two leaders of the far-right group Britain First – on Twitter, officials said the suspect had no concrete links with any far-right group nor was he known to the security services. The investigation will now turn to what motivated the attack, which has rightly been described as terrorism.

For almost two decades, my research has shown how anti-Muslim views have become increasingly unquestioned and accepted in both the public and political discourse. In this respect, despite being roundly criticised by the right-wing press, Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of the Conservative party, was right when she said in 2011 that Islamophobia had passed the dinner table test.

To continue reading, click here.

ARTICLE: Afzal Amin and the long, sad tale of the Dudley ‘super mosque’ – The Conversation

Conversation_logo

Following the news from Dudley at the weekend, I was invited to contribute a piece to The Conversation that draws upon my research surrounding the Dudley ‘super-mosque’.

To read the article in full, click here. Alternatively, the first few paragraphs are pasted below:

Afzal Amin and the long, sad tale of the Dudley ‘super mosque’

Afzal Amin, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dudley North, has resigned as parliamentary candidate after apparently being caught colluding with the far-right in a bizarre plot to hold a fake protest about a mosque.

The shadow cast by the Dudley “super mosque” (as its opponents routinely describe it) has loomed large over the Black Country town since 2001, despite the fact that the mosque doesn’t actually exist. In fact the mosque – dubbed the Pride of Dudley by the Dudley Muslim Association – is no nearer being built than it was at the turn of the century. Anyone passing the site then and today will note very little difference.

Yet as my research has repeatedly shown, confrontations over the mosque have had a destructive impact on Dudley. In particular it has divided the local political landscape, prompting battles between the far-right and local councillors. Now it seems this non-existent building has touched the very heart of the national political mainstream.

Amin stands accused of trying to choreograph a fake demonstration against the mosque. To do it, he sought the help of the far-right group the English Defence League, including its former leader Tommy Robinson.

According to secretly taped conversations published by The Mail on Sunday, Amin wanted the EDL to announce plans for a march in Dudley on May 2 2015 – the last Saturday before the election.

To continue reading, click here.

Article: “For their attackers, mosques are seen as places of ‘difference'”

corolla_logoFollowing on from the excitement of having published last week in the Huffington Post, I was as excited to then publish an article in the New Statesman.

Entitled, “For their attackers, mosques are seen as places of ‘difference'” the article can be read by clicking here. But if you want to try before you buy (as I said, it’s free to read, don’t worry) I’ve pasted the first few paragraphs below:

It remains to be seen whether the blaze which destroyed a community centre and mosque in Muswell Hill, north London this week was a reprisal attack against Muslims in Britain for the murder of drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich a fortnight ago. If so, it will be another to add to the dramatically increased number of incidents to have been reported to Tell MAMA, the government-funded third party monitoring project which records anti-Muslim attacks.

In this climate however, it is no surprise that mosques have come under attack. According to Tell MAMA, around 12 have been targeted of late, the most worrying incident being in Grimsby where three petrol bombs were thrown. This is no surprise to me though because as my research over the past decade has shown, mosques have become convenient targets onto which the fears and anxieties about Muslims and Islam that ordinary people have are projected.

To continue reading, click here.

Feature: Lancashire Evening Post “Islamophobia: myth or reality?”

In preparation of my public lecture in Preston tomorrow – details available here – as part of Interfaith Week, the Lancashire Evening Post yesterday published a very good interview and feature about my research. This can be read by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can read the article below which is reproduced from the Lancashire Evening Post’s website:

Islamophobia: Myth or Reality?

Discrimination is a daily reality for many Muslims – but the vast majority of abuse goes unreported.

Dr Chris Allen, lecturer at the at the School of Social Policy at University of Birmingham, says a lack of a clear definition of what constitutes the discrimination that Muslims face, known as Islamophobia, contributing to the problem.

What many people fail to recognise, he says, is the difference between disagreeing with Muslim beliefs and promoting hatred.

“Islamophobia is not about disagreeing, criticising or condemning,” he explains. “But as a rule of thumb, when that disagreement, criticism or condemnation – including promoting stereotypes and mistruths – is used to intentionally promote, encourage or justify discrimination, hatred, bigotry or even violence, it is likely that this will be motivated and driven by Islamophobia or manifested and expressed as Islamophobia.”

One of the main problems, Dr Allen says, is while other forms of discrimination have precedents in law, there is still no legal definition of what Islamophobia is.

As a result, data about the levels and prevalence of Islamophobia is lacking.

Continue reading “Feature: Lancashire Evening Post “Islamophobia: myth or reality?””