Flourishing Under Pressure: Islamophobia, Resilience and Muslims In Britain

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Leon MOOSAVI , Sociology, UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom
Muslims in Britain encounter Islamophobia in politics, news media and everyday encounters. Since Muslims in Britain are racialised as non-white, the Islamophobia they face often simultaneously merges with racism. In this paper, I consider the effect that the pervasiveness of Islamophobia has on Muslims in Britain. I will argue that Muslims in Britain are often highly sensitive about the presence of Islamophobia which leads them to withdraw from participating in social spaces but, perhaps more crucially, from participating in institutions, out of fear of being discriminated against. Thus, it will be apparent that the Islamophobia that some say exists because Muslims refuse to ‘integrate’ is actually a factor in discouraging Muslims from ‘integrating’. The situation is more nuanced than this though as I will also argue in this paper that despite Islamophobia, Muslims in Britain are quite determined to assert themselves as British Muslims. Even though they may be labelled as ‘traitors’ by some, British Muslims not only typically declare themselves as loyal citizens, but also show various practical signs of being comfortable reconciling their Muslim identity with life in Britain. Muslims in Britain have shown much resilience towards Islamophobia in the last decade, establishing various groups, campaigns and coalitions which I will argue is proving effective in combatting Islamophobic rhetoric. While much still needs to be achieved in tackling Islamophobia, the successes that have been made, and the increasing stigma attached to Islamophobia as a term, will be argued to be a sign of a Muslim community that is flourishing under pressure. This research is based on ethnographic encounters with Muslims in Britain between 2008-2013.