Islamophobia: the othering of Europe’s Muslims

Issue: 146

Hassan Mahamdallie

Islamophobia has become the predominant form of racism in Europe today. It is proving to be potent and multifaceted, manifesting itself at state, popular and party political level. It represents a profoundly divisive force, not least because the “Muslim question” is a central component of the “war on terror” characterised by those prosecuting it as an elemental struggle for the very survival of Western civilisation and Enlightenment values. This has thrown significant sections of the European left and liberal intelligentsia into confusion and reaction. Many of them have in effect abandoned Muslims to their fate and/or convinced themselves of the necessity for military interventions and draconian security measures to eradicate “Islamist terrorism” at home and abroad.

The form of racism Islamophobia most resembles is anti-Semitism in that it seeks to “other” and then victimise a minority group on the basis that their culture and essential beliefs are a fundamental threat to the rest of society. As the late Edward Said observed, “Hostility to Islam in the modern Christian West has historically gone hand in hand with, has stemmed from the same source, has been nourished at the same stream as anti-Semitism”.1

Existing forms of racism, whether it be the persecution of the Roma peoples, institutional racism against people based on their skin colour or xenophobia against migrants not only remain embedded in society; they have been revitalised by the growth of Islamophobia. The erosion of civil liberties and freedoms, such as the expansion of the surveillance state, although impacting first on Muslims, represents a much wider threat.

The terrorist attack in Paris in January 2015 and its aftermath have produced another ratcheting up of punitive measures principally aimed at Muslims, as panicked governments across Europe realise they can’t protect their populations from future attacks carried out by heavily armed “self-starters” similar to those who carried out the killings at Charlie Hebdo’s offices and the kosher supermarket.

The hostile political climate has become such that mass expressions of anti-Muslim hatred, around which other social and economic grievances coalesce, can seemingly spring out of nowhere. Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) grew from a handful of people to demonstrations of 25,000 in a matter of weeks in Dresden, a city in the eastern province of Saxony. The movement, although initiated by far-right hooligans, quickly attracted a mass of older, middle class protesters, fearful of losing their pensions and savings, yet content to march under the ethnically exclusive slogan “Wir sind das Volk” (we are the people).2

A carnival of reaction

The well springs of Islamophobia have been flowing for some time. Racism is not a set of ideas that float above society; it is expressed within particular historical circumstances and social relations. Islamophobia is made real in national and localised political and economic antagonisms—as the rise of Pegida shows—but its primary driver is the Western powers’ political and military interventions in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. It would be naive or disingenuous to think that the consequences of these events, and the violence, misery and instability on a huge scale inherent within them, could somehow be confined to the region. Although it has been previously argued in this journal that “racism towards Muslims pre-dates 9/11 and the ensuing warmongering” and that “it has far more to do with domestic social processes than a singular focus on the ‘war on terror’ would allow”,3 clearly Islamophobia has intensified in the present period and closely follows the contours of events in the Middle East and manifestations of its violence on Europe’s streets.

In the present period (after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan) a series of terrorist attacks have hit the capital cities of Europe—Madrid, London, Stockholm, Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen—mounted by ­individuals or groups who have stated their actions to be in retaliation against, or out of revenge for, Western military operations in Muslim territories, abuses such as Abu Ghraib and the CIA torture programme and the oppressive treatment of Muslims in Europe. This is not an explanation (nor a justification) for why these particular individuals decided to turn to violent methods, but it does help us identify the source of their grievances. As the former Labour deputy prime minister John Prescott stated in his typically blunt manner:

I was with Tony Blair on Iraq. We were wrong. They told us it wasn’t regime change. It was. And that’s exactly what the Americans have had. Now Tony, unfortunately, is still into that. I mean the way he’s going now, he now wants to invade everywhere. He should put a white coat on with a red cross and let’s start the bloody crusades again.

When I hear people talking about how people are radicalised, young Muslims. I’ll tell you how they are radicalised. Every time they watch the television where their families are worried, their kids are being killed and murdered and rockets firing on all these people, that’s what radicalises them.4

The Labour Party immediately distanced themselves from Prescott. This is to be expected given that when in government they not only ­prosecuted the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq but put in place the basis for the subsequent scapegoating of Muslims.

The ideological consensus across Europe’s governments is of a continent disarmed from within by multiculturalism and over-tolerant attitudes that has left society defenceless against the encroachment of Islamic fundamentalist ideas harboured within Muslim populations.5 Hence, David Cameron’s watershed speech to the annual Munich security conference in 2011 in which he criticised “the doctrine of state multiculturalism”, saying that we need “a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism”.6 Cameron was lining up with other European leaders at the time, notably Nicolas Sarkozy in France, Angela Merkel in Germany and José Aznar in Spain who had already made similar speeches.

One of preoccupations of the right (and their new fellow travellers of the former left) has been the very term “Islamophobia”, which they have sought to delegitimise. The term is anathema to both groups. They argue that even recognising that Islamophobia exists is tantamount to surrendering ground to the enemy. The right to vilify and denigrate the religious beliefs of a minority group has perversely come to symbolise the dividing line between democracy and totalitarianism. As Voltaire, decrying the French state’s violent persecution of the minority Protestant religion at the end of the 18th century, asked, “What I want to know is, on which side is the horror of fanaticism?”7 In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack France’s prime minister Manuel Valls stated: “I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia’, because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology. The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ is used to silence people”.8

This argument flies in the face of reality, particularly in the French context. Muslims in Europe (and the United States) have been caught in an unbridled vitriolic firestorm in which their religion, ethnic backgrounds and cultures have become merged into a series of negative stereotypes, distilled, for example, into the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that recall classic anti-Semitic caricatures or vented in the constant stream of bigotry broadcast by Fox News. The notion that anyone in a position of power with or access to the media has held back from attacking Muslims and their beliefs for fear of being accused of racism is absurd. In fact, negative portrayals of Muslims are so widespread that those who articulate them are assured they will not be “called out”. It is quite something to realise that Islamophobia has become such common currency that it is effectively cloaked in invisibility. As the author and commentator Reza Aslan has pointed out of the US, “Islamophobia has become so mainstream in this country that Americans have been trained to expect violence against Muslims—not excuse it, but expect it. And that’s happened because you have an Islamophobia industry in this country devoted to making Americans think there’s an enemy within”.9

Aslan’s point was tragically reinforced when the murder of three young Arab-American Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in February 2015, and the likely Islamophobic motive of their killer were markedly downplayed by the media.

In the US Muslims have been the target of that which Nathan Lean describes as an “Islamophobia industry” using “lurid imagery, emotive language, charged stereotypes, and repetition, to exacerbate fears of a larger-than-life, ever-lurking Muslim presence”.10 Lean shows how the “industry” links the far-right, evangelical Christians, the Tea Party and various extreme fringe groups. It is heavily funded by powerful backers from right wing foundations and business interests and networked internationally. One of its recurring themes is the “Islamisation of America”, echoed in Europe by those warning of a dystopian “Eurabia”.

The “thought experiments” of the Eurabia proponents contain the seeds of ethnic cleansing. The novelist Martin Amis casually remarks to a reporter that Muslims are “gaining on us demographically at a huge rate. A quarter of humanity now and by 2025 they’ll be a third. Italy’s down to 1.1 child per woman. We’re just going to be outnumbered”.11 Canadian writer Mark Steyn argues in a bestselling book that the war in Bosnia was caused by Muslims outbreeding their Serb counterparts. His conclusion: “In a democratic age you can’t buck demography—except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out—as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent”.12 Who can hold that these words have no consequence when you realise that Steyn has plucked this grotesquery straight from the mouth of the Butcher of Srebrenica Ratko Mladic who explicitly justified his war crimes thus: “The Islamic world does not have the atomic bomb, but it has the demographic bomb. The whole of Europe will be swamped by Albanians and Muslims”?13 This obsession with breeding and protecting the gene pool indicates that this “new” racism is quite capable of incorporating older forms of biological racism.

The reality? Muslims make up 4 percent of Europe’s population and in no country do they make up more than 7 percent (in the US the figure is between 0.2 and 0.6 percent). The majority of Europe’s Muslims lack (or are denied) meaningful political and economic influence and power at a national level. They are among the most deprived members of the working class; suffering discrimination, structural unemployment and the effects of poverty. A 2014 report based on Office for National Statistics data found that Muslims are facing the worst job discrimination of any minority group in Britain and have the lowest chance of being in work or in a managerial role. Researchers found that “Muslim men were up to 76 percent less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians of the same age and with the same qualifications. And Muslim women were up to 65 percent less likely to be employed than white Christian counterparts… Of those in work, the researchers found only 23 percent and 27 percent of Muslim Bangladeshis and Muslim Pakistanis, respectively, had a salaried job”.14

One of the researchers, Dr Nabil Khattab, found that Britain’s Muslims face both an ethnic and religious penalty in the job market. He concluded the situation was:

likely to stem from placing Muslims collectively at the lowest stratum within the country’s racial or ethno-cultural system due to growing Islamophobia and hostility against them… They are perceived as disloyal and as a threat rather than just as a disadvantaged minority… Within this climate, many employers will be discouraged from employing qualified Muslims, especially if there are others from their own groups or others from less threatening groups who can fill these jobs.15

Khattab added: “The main components of this discrimination are skin colour and culture or religion. But colour is dynamic, which means white colour can be valued in one case, but devalued when associated with Muslims. Equally, having a dark skin colour—Hindu Indians, for example—is not always associated with any significant penalty.” Other research demonstrated job hunters with identifiable Muslim names had to send out nearly twice as many job applications before they got a positive response than those who had “white” names.16

Muslims over the age of 50 are more likely to suffer bad health than their peers in the general population. Nearly half of the entire Muslim population live in the ten most deprived local authority districts in England. Some 5 percent of Muslims are in hostels or temporary shelters for the homeless (general population figure 2.2 percent). Muslims are much more likely to live in social housing than the general population, and less likely to own their own home.

Muslims are over 13 percent of the prison population (roughly 11,000 out of a prison population of 86,000, 8,000 of which are British black or South Asian). Overall there is greater disproportionality in the number of black people in prisons in the UK than in the US. Black and Muslim prisoners both report being perceived through racialised stereotypes; black prisoners through the lens of gangs and drugs and Muslim offenders through the lens of extremism and terrorism.17

The incarceration figures in France are even more stark: 70 percent of France’s prison population is Muslim, even though they make up around 7 percent of the population. The figure is even higher in prisons that serve Paris. Those who carried out terrorist attacks in Paris, Toulouse (and Brussels) all had backgrounds as petty criminals, and appear to have made up their minds to carry out the murders either in prison or upon their release. This is not to argue a direct causal link between being jailed and carrying out murderous attacks, but neither can we ignore the backgrounds and position in society of the attackers.18

Much has been written of Muslims’ closed societies, refusal to integrate and incompatible belief systems. However, numerous surveys have shown that Britain’s Muslims see themselves as British, identify with “British values”, are opposed to violence and, despite popular belief (notwithstanding their socio-economic circumstances), feel part of society. The only indicators upon which they depart from general attitudes is when it comes to defending their religion.19

How then have large elements of those who regard themselves as progressive and on the left come to the position by which they view this marginalised, vilified and oppressed section of the working class with such suspicion and animosity? A 2014 Pew Global Attitudes Europe survey found that although distrust of Muslims was mainly held by those who consider themselves as holding right wing ideas, a significant percentage of those who aligned with general left wing ideas also held negative views. So in France 47 percent of those on the right held anti-Muslim views as did 17 percent of those on the left. In Spain the figure was 54 percent of the right and 38 percent of the left. In Germany it was 47 percent of the right and 20 percent of the left and, in the UK 34 percent of the right and 19 percent of the left.20

Significant sections of the left and anti-racist groups have convinced themselves through a variety of baleful political misjudgements that the fundamental dividing line in Western society is between secularism and religious obscurantism. They believe that the principal enemy of the values emerging from the Enlightenment is not war, neoliberalism, austerity and the far-right, but Islam and its followers. This has led to the “othering” of Europe’s Muslims, and its corollary—the “comfort” of belonging to a (supposedly) superior group defined by shared beliefs, values and culture.

This position relies partly on a reductive caricature of both the Enlightenment and religious ideas. Scholars such as Jonathan Israel have revealed a contradictory and ambiguous view of Islam among Enlightenment philosophers, many of whom took the study of the particulars of Islam extremely seriously.21 As Chris Harman wrote:

They were far from seeing it [Islam] as do the B52 liberals who claim to be the heirs of the Enlightenment today. As Israel says, in “radical texts” the “image of Islam” was of “a pure monotheism of high moral calibre which was also a revolutionary force for positive change and one which proved from the outset to be both more rational and less bound to the miraculous than Christianity or Judaism”.22

Islam, like other religions, has its philosophic framework and textual approaches (hermeneutics) that cannot be reduced to a bundle of irrationalism and superstition. In this context setting up a false binary between the secular and religious ignores the philosophical advance that monotheistic religions such as Islam were able to achieve, contributing to the rationalism underpinning the Enlightenment itself. This advance in human thought was recognised by Edward Gibbon in his sympathetic chapter on the prophet Muhammad in The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (­published between 1776 and 1788):

The creed of Mahomet is free from suspicion or ambiguity; and the Koran is a glorious testimony to the unity of God. The prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and men, of stars and planets, on the rational principle that whatever rises must set, that whatever is born must die, that whatever is corruptible must decay and perish… These sublime truths, thus announced in the language of the prophet, are firmly held by his disciples, and defined with metaphysical precision by the interpreters of the Koran… The first principle of reason and revolution was confirmed by the voice of Mahomet: his proselytes, from India to Morocco, are distinguished by the name of Unitarians; and the danger of idolatry has been prevented by the interdiction of images.23

Despite this, there are those who regard themselves as the inheritors of Gibbon and the Enlightenment who believe the left project to be an exclusively secular journey. They view the emergence of a Muslim religious identity, particularly in the West, as an unambiguously backward development. For them, the “good old days” (before the Satanic Verses affair at the end of the 1980s) when Asians were Asians you could have a beer with after a demo, worthy of the attention of the anti-racist left, have been usurped by a Muslim identity that places its adherents beyond the pale and undeserving of support. This turns the entire anti-racist tradition on its head. Even putting aside the principle of solidarity, the notion that those who hold to an Islamic identity are an undifferentiated mass prone to backward ideas, who must somehow pass a “secular test” before they can either be supported or be involved in progressive struggles, is fundamentally a reflection of the dominant discourse of the right.

The French political scientist François Burgat, who specialises in the emergence of political Islam, has taken the left in France to task (although his criticism applies more widely) for abandoning anti-imperialism and anti-racism and collapsing into abstention, indifference, hostility and denial:

The political right has found in the Islamic spectre a confirmation of some of its old prejudices towards Islam, the Third World and Arabs. The left is in principle more inclined to accept the emergence of the “other”, yet it too has made a spectacular mistake: although it is capable of recognising Arabs, it loses its bearings and ability to be rational when dealing with Muslims. Its anti-clericalism focuses on the religious content of a phenomenon. Once the left has retreated behind its supercilious (should one say fundamentalist?) attachment to the symbols of its “secularism”, it becomes incapable of admitting that the universalism of republican thought might be challenged in part or in whole, and that someone might one day dare to write a piece of history in a vocabulary that is not its own.24

Why single out Muslims from other religious minorities and deny them the capacity to make their own history? For example, why should a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf be regarded any differently from a Sikh man who wears a turban as an outward sign of his religiosity, or a Jewish man who wears a kippah?

It is also simplistic to say that young Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, for example, swapped their Asian identity for a Muslim one after falling into the arms of reactionary Imams during the Rushdie affair.25 This is to confuse a political banner that unifies minority groups fighting back against oppression with their individual cultural or religious beliefs. Although Pakistanis and Bangladeshis rightly forged a unity with others in the 1970s as “black” or “Asian” that does not automatically imply that they gave up their religious identities to do so. The reality was more complex. As Tariq Mehmood, one of the Bradford 12, put on trial for defending their ­community from the National Front in the early 1980s, recounts:

Most of the people in the youth movements were religious, but religion was not an issue for the members, it was their own affair. Many Sikhs, Hindus and Christians helped to protect mosques, as Muslims did of temples when they were attacked. We had very close relationships with gurdwaras and mosques whom we were always calling upon to support us in our actions. There were many among the Muslim [members] who kept all fasts… The unity was in anti-racism and anti-imperialism. Even among these groups there were believers and non-believers all working together. Ishaq Mohammed Kazi came to me about the question of God. Two weeks later he was in jail as part of the Bradford 12. Religion was important to many—weddings, funerals, etc. People celebrated or commemorated in their own ways. Any divisions were political, either Labour Party or left party. Or else caste or national.26

In the period before this the previous generation of Muslims who migrated to Britain in the 1960s and 1970s entered into a series of struggles in the workplace, in the community and against racism and fascism; yet we should not forget that at the same time they were clubbing together to buy the empty premises that laid the foundation for the early network of mosques.27

Islamophobia and racism

Writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik describes himself as a holder of secular universalist Enlightenment views. He defines himself against a left represented by this journal whom he regards as abandoning these principles post-Rushdie in favour of multiculturalism and identity politics. In an oft-cited article “The Islamophobia Myth” Malik asserts that “there is a fundamental difference between race and religion. You can’t choose your skin colour; you can choose your beliefs. Religion is a set of beliefs. I can be hateful about other beliefs, such as conservatism or communism. So why can’t I be hateful about religion too?”28

However, this seemingly neat distinction can only survive if separated from reality, or to quote Marx, existing “as an independent realm in the clouds”.29 First, Kenan, in an effort to make a convincing argument sets aside the basic anti-racist insight that “race” is a social construct that has no scientific basis. As such it is open to wide and differing interpretation. So under British law a racial group is defined as “any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, colour, nationality (including ­citizenship) or ethnic or national origin”. In 1982 a House of Lords judgement expanded this definition to include “ethno-religious” groups including Sikhs and Jews, arising from the case of a Sikh school student who was sent home from a Birmingham school because he was wearing a turban. It is the lack of inclusion of Muslims under this protective category that the BNP, EDL and others have exploited; allowing them to use racist and inflammatory language against Muslims that they would be prosecuted for if aimed at black people and Jews. A similar situation exists in other European countries.

Secondly, recent history shows that reactionary forces are wholly capable of collapsing the distinctions between race and religion into one another, with terrible consequences. Consider the worst example of ethnic cleansing since the Second World War—the Bosnian War (1992-5). The Muslim population of Bosnia were massacred and driven out by Serb ultra-nationalist forces despite both ethnic groups sharing the same racial phenotype, the same language root and a common culture (apart from their religious denominations). Indeed, as Sejad Mekic writes, “over centuries, Bosnians had gone beyond tolerance to embrace synthetic, eclectic religious norms, with each religious group often borrowing customs and rituals from its rivals”.30 The massacre could happen because the Serb leadership were able to “racialise” the Muslim population in the eyes of their Serb counterparts. The subsequent war led to the deaths of 100,000 people and 2 million driven from their homes.

The third rebuttal of Malik’s position is that the vast majority of Muslims living in Europe (and the US) also belong to racial “types” that have been the main objects of racism and discrimination throughout recent history. Although Europe’s Muslims are very diverse in their origins, ­nationalities, histories, culture, political and religious allegiances, the majority are of Asian or African heritage. Seven out of ten British Muslims are South Asian with the others being mostly of African or Arab descent. Most Muslims in France have roots in North Africa, around two thirds of German Muslims are of Turkish descent, the Dutch Muslim population is made up principally of those of Moroccan and Turkish origin as well as refugees from the Middle East and Africa, with Muslims in Scandinavia also being drawn from displaced people from war zones such as Palestine, Somalia and Iraq.

The effect of Islamophobia has been to overlay a negative religious identity on top of a pre-existing negative racial identity. The two have become merged and mutually reinforcing. Naser Meer and Tariq Modood write that Islamophobia has:

A religious and cultural dimension, but equally clearly, bares a phenotypical component. For while it is true that “Muslim” is not a (putative) biological category…neither was “Jew”. It took a long, non-linear history of racialisation to turn an ethno-religious group into a race. More precisely the latter did not so much as replace the former but superimposed itself.

As they point out in relation to Bosnia: “The ethnic cleanser, unlike an inquisitor, wasted no time in finding out what people believed, if and how often they went to a mosque and so on: their victims were racially identified as Muslims”.31

Regardless of all this, Kenan Malik argues in his article that there is no proof of a direct link between hostility towards Islam and attacks on Muslims. “Should we treat every attack on a Muslim as Islamophobic? If an Afghan taxi driver is assaulted, is this a racist attack, an Islamophobic incident or simply a case of random violence?”32

The nature of racist attacks on Muslims shows that Malik’s distinctions are not at all apparent to the perpetrators. Reports of attacks describe physical violence and intimidation accompanied by insults combining racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, such as “Paki”, “Go back to where you came from”, and “Terrorist”.33 This demonstrates the “ethno-religious” nature of Islamophobia argued above. Indeed “white” Muslims on the receiving end of hate attacks can find their race transmuted to fit the phenotype associated with being a Muslim. In one reported incident a white British Muslim woman who had a car driven at her reported the perpetrator shouting “I’m going to pop you Muslim” before calling her a “fucking Paki bastard”. As she concluded, “it doesn’t matter how white you are”.34 This racialisation is also evident in bias against Muslims in the labour market. Researchers undertaking a detailed study of the effect of discrimination against Muslims were surprised to find that: “White Muslims also experience an employment penalty, other things being equal”.35

Analysis of the now familiar “spikes” in attacks on Muslims show their attackers regard them as deserving collective punishment. Even taking into account disputes over the accuracy of figures (including under-reporting) and their interpretation, a pattern can be clearly discerned. After the 2005 London bombings the Metropolitan Police reported that “religious hate crimes, mostly against Muslims, have risen six-fold in London since the bombings” compared to the previous year.36 A 2014 report by the monitoring group Tell MAMA (Measuring anti-Muslim Attacks) and researchers at Teesside University reported that:

One of the most significant events in the field of anti-Muslim hate crime over the past few years was doubtless the ruthless murder of Lee Rigby, and the ensuing anti-Muslim backlash. While different agencies reported different rates of increase—Tell MAMA found a 373 percent increase over the course of a week relative to the week before—one London Borough Commander suggested that there had been an eight-fold increase in parts of London, and Home Office Statistics suggesting a low estimate of a 63 percent increase in the West Midlands—it is clear that anti-Muslim hate crime spiked after this.37

Immediately after the January 2015 Paris attack it was reported that:

26 mosques around France have been subject to attack by firebombs, gunfire, pig heads, and grenades as Muslims are targeted with violence in the wake of the Paris attacks. France’s National Observatory Against Islamophobia reports that since last Wednesday a total of 60 Islamophobic incidents have been recorded, with countless minor encounters believed to have gone unreported.38

A feature of Islamophobia is the disproportionate level of attacks on Muslim women, particularly those wearing outward signs of religiosity. This not only demonstrates that the attacks are motivated by anti-Islamic sentiment, but also underlines the bankruptcy of pseudo-feminist/Enlightenment arguments against the hijab, niqab and abaya (dress). The Islamophobic view of Muslim women specifically as carriers of fundamentalist ideas, and of their clothing as signifiers of their intent, has made them a target for discrimination, abuse and violence. Attacks and threats against Muslim women account for 58 percent of all incidents reported to Tell MAMA. Of these, 80 percent were visually identifiable as Muslim—“wearing hijab, niqab or other clothing associated with Islam”.39 As Liz Fekete has pointed out:

The call to ban the hijab in the name of individual autonomy relies on essentialist arguments about Islam that deny any personal autonomy to Muslim women and girls… A debate about the furthering of Enlightenment values leads to the exclusion of Muslim women and girls from the culture of civil rights. Because veiled women are not, in the eyes of their “liberators”, autonomous beings (they are either representatives of, or victims of, a fundamentalist culture), they are denied political agency altogether.40

It is important that the racist reality of Islamophobia is acknowledged against all those who seek to deny it in order to wield it. However, it is also crucial that its nature—how it resembles or differs from other racisms—is understood, so that it may be effectively opposed. Contrary to the right wing conspiracy theory that the term Islamophobia was an invention of the mullahs of the Iranian Revolution to deflect attention away from their theocratic excesses, the term seems to have been first used a century ago, but became common currency in 1997 with the publication in Britain of the report “Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All” by the Runnymede Trust.41

The report defined Islamophobia as an “unfounded hostility towards Islam [and] the practical consequences of such hostility in unfair ­discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and to the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs”. The report’s authors conceded that “the term is not, admittedly, ideal”, before explaining that:

The word “Islamophobia” has been coined because there is a new reality which needs naming: anti-Muslim prejudice has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed so it can be identified and acted upon. In a similar way there was a time in European history when a new word, anti-Semitism, was needed and coined to highlight the growing dangers of anti-Jewish hostility.42

However, the term has been subject to scrutiny from the left. The anti-racist educationalist Robin Richardson has pointed out that:

The use of the word Islamophobia on its own implies that hostility towards Muslims is unrelated to, and basically dissimilar from, other forms of hostility such as racism, xenophobia, sectarianism, and such as hostility to so-called fundamentalism. Further, it may imply there is no connection with issues of class, power, status and territory; or with issues of military, political economic competition and conflict.43

As the racism of imperialism was rooted in its earlier mode—the racism that justified transatlantic slavery and colonialism, so this new racism also draws upon historic foundations. Islamophobia in its extreme forms reveals pseudo-biological and racial justifications and imperious attitudes to Muslims and their religion and cultures that predate our times. “Muslim” and “Islam” carry powerful historical associations, particularly in the West. As Talat Ahmed has argued, “the demonisation of contemporary Muslims utilises imagery from previous periods and reinvents it to fit current needs. In the process older forms of racism can be accommodated and given space to spew their bile relatively unhindered”.44

It is possible to avoid regarding Western attitudes towards Islam and Muslim societies as monolithic and wholly negative, while recognising that colonial expansion into the Middle East particularly cast Islam and Muslim societies as inferior. The academic Aziz Al-Azmeh argues that during the colonial period the dominant “orientalist discourse” created the monolithic figure of homo islamicus in contrast to the perceived essence of Western civilisation: reason, freedom and perfectibility:

To reason corresponded enthusiastic unreason, politically translated as fanaticism, a major concern of 19th century scholars and colonialists as of today’s television commentators. That notion provided an explanation for political and social antagonism to colonial and post-colonial rule, by reducing political and social movements to motivations humans share with animals.

Freedom was contrasted with “a total abandonment of individuality to the exclusive worship of an abstract god…the subjection of individuality to collectivity”, and while Western thinkers convinced themselves to be well along the evolutionary path to a perfect higher civilisation, Islam could be looked back upon as a flawed anomaly characterised by “despotism, unreason, belief, stagnation, medievalism”.45

In regard to the 19th century notion that Muslim countries are inherently primitive, and the contemporary argument that military intervention can force backward states onto the higher path of Western modernity, one must ask how these particular countries might have progressed if they had been spared colonialisation and had been allowed to develop independently. As the early 20th century radical anthropologist Franz Boas, describing the effect of colonialism, put it: “The rapid dissemination of Europeans over the whole world destroyed all promising beginnings which had arisen in various regions”.46 To point this out is not a denial of historical progress, or the dismissal of the Enlightenment as merely a Eurocentric discourse. In fact it is a prerequisite for restoring the potentiality of the Enlightenment as a project yet to be fully realised. As Alex Callinicos has argued:

Really overcoming Eurocentrism depends chiefly on the historian taking two steps, one ethico-political, the other conceptual. First, no historic discourse can hope to attain genuine universality unless it involves the recognition of, and gives proper weight to, the crimes perpetrated during the establishment and maintenance of Western domination over the globe… Such a moral reorientation must be accompanied, secondly, by the conceptual decentring of historical discourse. This involves, above all, the refusal to treat the pattern of development associated with any particular region or country as a model in terms of which happenings elsewhere are to be understood.47

Boas also touched upon this concept of “decentring” as a way of gaining understanding of the complexity of human development:

It is somewhat difficult for us to recognise that the value which we attribute to our civilisation is due to the fact that we participate in this civilisation…but it is certainly conceivable that there may be other civilisations, based perhaps on different traditions and on a different equilibrium of emotion and reason, which are of no less value than ours.48

There is no one template for human development, with universal ideals being the sole property of the West. It is not lost on Muslims (and those who defend them) that those presently bludgeoning them into submission with “Enlightenment values” are simultaneously undermining those self-same values.

In its earliest phase modern imperialism generated a racism based on the ideology that the “races” and societies of Asia and Africa were inferior and in need of the civilising influence of the occupying Western powers. The “new imperialism” we are in the midst of, focused as it is on military conflicts to secure access to and influence over the strategic resources and territories of the Middle East, echoes these old prejudices, but as part of a new set of interlocking racist ideas. In the colonial period Muslims could be cast as the savage “enemy without”—today the “enemy” is within. Modern Islamophobia relies on the presence of Muslim populations in Europe; the result of post Second World War labour immigration and to a lesser extent, settlement of Muslims as asylum seekers. This represents both a continuation of previous Islamophobic ideas, and a sharp reconfiguration in the present period.

Islamophobia provides the singular and distorting prism through which Muslims are increasingly scrutinised, from Muslim involvement in the education system (the 2014 Trojan Horse affair where Muslims were accused of plotting to take over schools in Birmingham), local politics (the usurping of Tower Hamlets council) and the racialisation of crime (Pakistani men and child abuse). National security and linked issues such as immigration and Britishness are reoccurring themes in domestic politics. This “othering” of an identifiable minority paves the way for the politics of scapegoating and division.

Anti-Muslim sentiment, as the Pegida movement shows, has the potential to act as a fleeting and illusory outlet for the discontent felt by those suffering from the neoliberal economic assault. Far-right and xenophobic parties and formations, feeding off the widespread anxiety and despair produced by neoliberal economic policies, have seized on “the Muslim problem”, recast it for their own ends and amplified it to a national level. Islamophobia has been incorporated into parties such as the Front National, which has largely (for public consumption at least) abandoned its anti-Semitic roots in favour of a virulent anti-Muslim agenda.

It has been highlighted in this journal and elsewhere that there is a growing social and political instability caused by the retreat of mainstream politics from the public domain, of which far-right formations have been, thus far, the chief beneficiary.49

The failure of much of the left and anti-racist movements consistently to oppose Islamophobia is further compounded when one considers that existing manifestations of racism have become reinvigorated by the scapegoating of Muslims. State institutions such as the police, previously on the retreat around racism, have taken advantage of the present situation and the granting of new anti-terrorism powers to return to “traditional” methods of discrimination, such as the revival of mass racial profiling and stop and search operations. For example, it recently came to light that the New York Police Department set up a secretive “Demographics Unit” in 2001. An Associated Press investigation found that: “Starting shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, officers infiltrated Muslim communities and spied on hundreds or perhaps thousands of totally innocent Americans at mosques, colleges, and elsewhere.” These officers “put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinised where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity… Informants were paid to bait Muslims into making inflammatory statements”.50 The NYPD later had to admit the operation had failed to produce any significant terrorism leads.

Criminologists have observed how the British police’s racial profiling has shifted to harness new possibilities opened up by the “war on terror”:

Recent evidence…has suggested that perceptions of Asian and particularly Muslim people have undergone a transformation. Stereotypes, which assumed that Asian people were conformist, are now thought to be less applicable and, rather, the very stereotypes assumed to explain law-abiding behaviour (eg family pressures, tight knit communities and high levels of social control) are now thought to promote criminal and deviant activity amongst Asian youth… The shift in the perception of such groups has been located in both local and global notions of Asian youth as increasingly involved in gangs, violent, disorderly, riotous and, more recently, as potential terrorists.51

There are other signs that Islamophobia is feeding back into general levels of racist ideas. Analysis of data from the authoritative British Social Attitudes Survey, reported in the Guardian in 2014, found that “the proportion of Britons who admit to being racially prejudiced has risen since the start of the millennium, raising concerns that growing hostility to immigrants and widespread Islamophobia are setting community relations back 20 years”.52

The data showed that there has been “a broad decline in the proportion of people who said they were either ‘very or a little prejudiced’ against people of other races—from a high of 38 percent in 1987 to an all-time low of 25 percent in 2001. However, in 2002, following the 9/11 attacks in New York and the invasion of Afghanistan, there was a sharp rise in self-reported racial prejudice. Over the next 12 years that upward trend continued to a high of 38 percent in 2011.” Tariq Modood, commenting on the report, said: “I don’t think there is any doubt that hostility to Muslims and suspicion of Muslims has increased since 9/11, and that is having a knock-on effect on race and levels of racial prejudice”.53

Alongside, but not separate to, the rise in Islamophobia has been a spiralling debate on immigration into the European Union. One of the consequences, which bridges hostility towards Muslims with xenophobia, has been the insistence by various states that a prerequisite of citizenship is declared allegiance to what are called “core national values”—a measure clearly targeted principally at Muslims. Policies towards asylum seekers are also being refashioned. European states have been eager for some time to have humanitarian agencies set up refugee camps inside or on the borders of conflict zones such as Syria in an effort to avoid a commitment to granting “in country” asylum. The British government, going one step further, to avoid accepting male Muslim refugees (seen as potential ­terrorists) have drawn up criteria that allow for a handful of “women and girls at risk of sexual violence; the elderly; the disabled and survivors of torture” the chance to be granted asylum.54

The mutually reinforcing effects of anti-Muslim, racist and scapegoating politics have already changed the political landscape in Europe. Liz Fekete has pointed out:

The influence of xenophobic and Islamophobic parties, either as junior partners in coalition governments or as the recipients of the public vote, is unprecedented, and reflects a major realignment of forces that has taken place as a direct consequence of the war on terror. With its aggressive call for “integration” (meaning assimilation), to be achieved through “the scrubbing out of multiculturalism”, the realigned right—whose elements range from post-fascist to liberals and even some social democrats—is using state power to reinforce fears about “aliens” and put in place legal and administrative structures that discriminate against Muslims.55

There is no reason to believe that Britain is automatically immune from this right wing populist trend. Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, has already signalled the attraction of riding the Islamophobic wave, when, following the Paris attacks, he said mass immigration had “made it frankly impossible for many new communities to integrate…We do have, I’m afraid, I’m sad to say, a fifth column that is living within our own countries, that is utterly opposed to our values. We’re going to have to be a lot braver and a lot more courageous in standing up for our Judeo-Christian culture”.56

Farage, hoping that the forthcoming general election will gift him with leverage in a future coalition government, will be aware of the Sweden Democrats, who have gained rapid electoral success by pushing a platform combining hostility to the European Union with an anti-immigrant, anti-multiculturalism and anti-Muslim rhetoric. The Sweden Democrats’ ability to alter national politics was demonstrated when in December they wielded their parliamentary vote to bring down the two month old centre-left government and force a new general election (although the mainstream parties later got together to reverse this outcome).57

Counter-terrorism policy and legislation

The rise of ISIS out of the chaos of Syria and post-war Iraq and its staging of macabre acts of execution and other atrocities has provided the embodiment of the existential threat of a “perverted form of Islam”. As commentators have pointed out, there is a symbiosis between ISIS’s grisly provocations and the reaction of Western governments. ISIS (and to a lesser extent Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram) have consciously provided Western government’s with the perfect “folk devil”—and its ability to attract some young Muslims from abroad to its ranks acts as the spur for even harsher domestic anti-terror measures. It is a wholly destructive process. As Tariq Ali has written, “To fight tyranny and oppression by using tyrannical and oppressive means, to combat a single-minded and ruthless fanaticism by becoming equally fanatical and ruthless, will not further the cause of justice or bring about meaningful democracy. It can only prolong the cycle of violence”.58

Increased powers of surveillance, coercive “counter-extremism strategies” such as Britain’s Prevent programme, narrowing freedom of thought and speech through expanding definitions of “extremism”, the “neutralising” of what are seen as hostile individuals and groups and the constant search for purveyors of “moderate Islam” aligned to national values, are fast eroding civil liberties and religious freedoms. Vague and pliable legal definitions of extremism, and the linear theory of “radicalisation” as a process that begins with bad thoughts and ends in violent acts clearly have the potential to be applied to other “disloyal” groups in society, notably the far left and others who dissent from the status quo.

Terrorism is a recurring motif in European history (as elsewhere). For example, Spain has been the target of waves of bombings and assassinations by the armed Basque separatist group ETA stretching from the 1960s to recent times, as has Britain in relation to Northern Ireland (between the 1970s and the 1990s). Fascists have always considered murderous violence, including mass terrorist attacks, as a legitimate tool in provoking “race war”. Apart from the 2004 Madrid bombings, the bloodiest attack in Europe in recent times was that carried out by far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011.59 Previous terrorist campaigns were broadly viewed by the state as illegitimate responses to political factors that could be met with (brutal) counter-insurgency operations combined at some point with the possibility of political negotiation designed to split the enemy. The “new” terrorist threat is coloured by an existential anxiety provoked by the thought of a multitude of fanatical religious plotters hidden among us, capable of striking at any time and place and thus demanding extraordinary pre-emptive measures to stop them.

The underlying assumption is that Islam, of all the world religions, is uniquely vulnerable to irrational, extreme interpretations, sanctioned by its key texts—the Qu’ran and Sunnah (ways of living based on the example of the prophet Muhammad)—with violence fundamentally embedded in the “Muslim psyche”. Although touted as a secular critique of religion, it closely resembles the notion of original sin. A sub-narrative also holds that Islam is a conspiratorial creed (specifically a wilful misinterpretation of the concept of taqiyya—particular circumstances where one can conceal one’s faith if in danger), thereby casting Muslims as a fifth column. Other ­stereotypical views build on the notion of Islam as a sexually perverted creed (echoing medieval stereotypes) and Sharia law as an expression of “Islamo-fascist” authoritarianism.

This monolithic view of Islam as a conspiratorial, violent, immoral religion informs the ideological basis for the legions of “counter-terrorism experts” who have flourished in the period following 9/11. These “experts” reject the materialist or rational explanations examining root causes of terrorism that marked the work of the previous generation of academics, in favour of the theory of “radicalisation”—of individuals “groomed” by shadowy figures, “turned”, or “infected” by terroristic longings. Their desires might one day be acted upon unless identified, “prevented” and “channelled” back into moderate beliefs. Arun Kundnani has observed:

Around 2005–7, there was a flurry of studies coming from university departments, law enforcement agencies and think tanks, which had all received large sums of money from the US and UK governments, trying to find evidence that some set of religious extremist ideas is the cause of terrorism. This was a field that a lot of academics rushed into because all of this money had been thrown at terrorism studies. To cut a long story short, they went searching for this evidence and either didn’t find it or pretended to find it when really they hadn’t.60

Kundnani contrasts this decontextualised focus on “radicalisation” with pre-9/11 terrorism studies. He cites prominent academic Martha Crenshaw whose published work began in the 1970s: Crenshaw “talked about the causes of terrorism in a multi-level way: the level of the individual, the level of the social movement that someone belongs to and the wider social and political context”. Kundnani goes on to argue, “What we’ve done, since 9/11 especially, is just focus on the level of the individual and think it’s all about that individual’s ideological indoctrination and not think about the wider social and political context and not think about the strategic decision-making within a social movement as to when to use violence and why”.61 In fact, as Crenshaw succinctly put it: “There is no fundamental difference between ‘old’ and ‘new’ terrorism”.62

The theory of “radicalisation” is applied in a partial manner. Far-right terrorists such as Anders Breivik, or David Copeland, who carried out bombings in London in 1999, are seen as “lone wolves” and their links to Islamophobic or fascist groups and propagandist networks played down. Also, how are we to regard training that takes place in the armed forces? Is training young people to enable them to kill people and not suffer ­psychological damage also not a form of “radicalisation”? What are we to think when a priest blesses soldiers and sends them off to a “just war”?

The continuation of the “war on terror” and its complementary radicalisation theory has led to ever widening numbers of those under suspicion. The British government has moved from focusing on violent extremism to encompass non-violent extremism. The effect has been to “dragnet” Muslim communities and increasingly to coerce the public sector to acting as the “eyes and ears” of the state security apparatus.

A Macarthyite witch-hunt has been set in motion, restlessly seeking out malevolent individuals and subversive “Salafist” conspiracies. The Trojan Horse affair is a classic example, sparked by an anonymous, unsourced letter of allegation against Muslim school governors and culminating in an official inquiry headed by a former head of the security services and the (willing) morphing of schools inspectorate Ofsted into the role of inquisitor. Children of nursery school age are now being reported to anti-terror authorities. One government funded website asks parents to “spot the signs”:

There are certain behaviour changes that parents are best placed to notice which indicate that their child may have fallen under the influence of an extremist group such as ISIS, and are at risk of acting upon their new beliefs;

  • Have they become more argumentative and domineering?
  • Are they quick to condemn those who don’t agree, and do they ignore viewpoints which contradict their own? Do they express themselves in a divisive “them and us” manner about others who do not share their religion or beliefs?
  • Has their circle of friends changed, including on social media, and are they distancing themselves from friends they were previously close to?
  • Do their friends express radical or extremist views? Have they lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have they changed their style of dress or personal appearance to fit with newfound ideas?63

Arun Kundnani has obtained statistics of those put through the “Channel” de-radicalisation programme, part of the Prevent anti-terror measures:

One case that has been documented involves a teenager in Manchester who was identified as potentially requiring de-radicalisation after attending a peaceful protest against the Israeli deputy ambassador. Since 2007, when Channel was introduced, 153 children under 11, another 690 aged 12-15 and 554 aged 16-17 have been referred to the programme. A further 2,196 adults have also been assessed as potential radicalisation risks. The overwhelming majority of these children and adults have been Muslims.64

Muslims, politics and the left

Given the continued demonisation of Muslims by the state, politicians and powerful voices in society, it can come as no surprise that opinion polls show widespread distrust of Muslims and Islam among the population in Britain. However, it would be wrong to conclude that the picture is ­uniformly bleak.

A poll by YouGov for the Sunday Times taken straight after the Paris attacks shows that the British public are split over their views of Muslims. The poll found that 46 percent of people thought that the majority of Muslims shared British values, with the exact same percentage thinking the opposite. Some 42 percent of people thought Muslims were well integrated into society, with 50 percent thinking they were not; 41 percent thought British Muslims were friendly to non-Muslims and 20 percent thought they were not. Those who say they support UKIP have much more hostile attitudes towards Muslims, while on the positive side the poll shows that young people hold significantly more positive attitudes.65 The poll (and others which report a similar pattern) shows the potential for attitudes towards Muslims to go in either direction. However, factors such as a significant UKIP electoral success or a terror attack on the scale of the one in Paris could rapidly shift the balance. That is why continued work to build active opposition to Islamophobic ideas, policies and parties is so important.

How can this be achieved? The experience of the previous period contains valuable lessons. In his article in this journal Jim Wolfreys points to the beginnnings in France of a united platform against Islamophobia.66 This is a very hopeful development. The Stop the War mobilisations over the invasion of Iraq and the demonstrations in support of the Palestinians, along with the successful work of Unite Against Fascism against the BNP and EDL, have established in this country a “common sense” unity in action, and networks uniting Muslims, the left, peace activists, anti-racists and the trade unions.

This has facilitated the entry of Muslims, particularly young activists, into the wider political arena. The integral involvement of Muslims in struggles, on their own terms and without facing preconditions, has been key. It is the most powerful rejoinder to those on the left who have caved in to Islamophobia. It shows that a Muslim religious identity is not an automatic, unchanging block to progressive political participation; indeed that it can be a motivating source of self-confidence—leading Muslims to begin to shape their own future and that of the broader struggle. It has also demonstrated to Muslims that they are not alone.

Two studies of the relationship between the Muslim Association of Britain and the Stop the War Coalition in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq argue that it represented a decisive political shift in both the political dynamics of Britain’s Muslims and the wider movement.

Two features emerge: The first study shows how the growth of a formal partnership between MAB and StWC defied its critics. In the words of MAB leader Anas Altikriti: “Everyone predicted that this anti-war movement was a marriage of convenience, that it would break up and that Muslims would never share a platform with atheists, and that gays would never stand together with a Muslim.” Reflecting on the huge February 2003 anti-war demonstration, Altikriti describes how: “It was all proven to be wrong… We had Muslims standing by non-Muslims, we had Muslim women with their hijab leading the demonstration… We had people of all ages, of all classes, standing together; it was a historic day and the anti-war movement, I believe, was part of creating that kind of unity and unanimity”.67

Of course, it would be wrong to paint an idealised picture of the partnership and subsequent developments, but both studies conclude that where tensions arose they were not religious, but political in nature. The second study desribes how the participation of Muslims in the anti-war movement produced a trajectory away from the polarising politics of the Rushdie affair:

What is noticeable about the post-September 11 response was the willingness of younger Muslims to form expedient alliances of dissent outside of their community, which was certainly not true of the Rushdie affair in 1989 or the Gulf war of 1991… As with the Rushdie affair, participation was cross-sectarian, with the participation of all the main South Asian sectarian groupings. However—and here it was unlike the Rushdie affair—practical political leadership and strategy were given over to the second generation, which were much more minded to seek broader alliances… Whereas during the Rushdie affair British Muslims had marched alone, in 2003 they had helped create a national movement of popular protest.68

Of course, the profoundly important nature of advances made during this period will not inoculate us from future threats. One developing issue is the expansion of Prevent and the government’s determination to coerce public sector workers into the apparatus of surveillance. In this arena the trade unions clearly have a central role to play. Resolutions at the top of the trade union movement are important, but effective resistance must involve the rank and file, including winning over a layer of activists who, although familiar with “traditional” anti-racism, may find the arguments around the relationship between race and religion more challenging.

The ever-widening definition of extremism and the closing down of the space for Muslims to dissent, as we have already seen in the recent campaign against former Guantánamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg, may well intensify. We may also be faced with more witch-hunts similar to the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair and the take-over of Tower Hamlets council.

The political question that may have to be considered, given the multi-faceted nature of Islamophobia, is whether the existing united fronts, including the important Stand Up to UKIP campaign, have the reach and flexibility between them to respond effectively to future challenges.

There is also the task of deepening the relationship between the new generation of Muslim activists and the wider left and socialist movement. We shouldn’t be surprised (indeed we should welcome it) if the struggle throws up radical Muslim political formations that combine resistance to Islamophobia with versions of black nationalist and anti-imperialist politics, on the lines of the French organisation Indigènes de la République. How would the left in Britain relate to such a development?

There should also be a recognition that as well as explicitly political debates, such as those arising out of the Arab Spring, there are sharp political and ideological battles taking place within Islam that the left should at the very least be aware of. These debates go well beyond the Good Muslim vs Bad Muslim, Moderate vs Extremist response to Islamophobia.

For example, there are important currents of thought attempting to provide an alternative to the conservative and literal Wahhabi interpretations of Islam emanating from the Gulf despots. Two prominent figures will serve as examples of a growing trend: African-American scholar Amina Wadud argues for the legitimacy of feminist thought within a Qu’ranic framework.69 Farid Esack, the veteran South African activist targeted by the security police under apartheid, similarly argues for a liberationist and pluralistic interpretation of Islam against “atomistic” approaches that pluck verses out of the Qu’ran to justify anything. Interestingly, Esack describes how during apartheid “the emergence of a Muslim identity contributed to the search for an Islamic response to apartheid”, leading to the subsequent breakaway by young activists from the South African religious establishment towards the ANC.70 There are also Muslim groups involved in LGBT politics, and others developing Islamic interpretations of green politics and environmentalism.

Why should this be the business of socialists? If they wish to build deeper political relationships with Muslim activists, they can hardly ask them to leave the religio-political debates they may be involved in at the door. To do that would be to, by default perhaps, practise political assimilation. That does not mean that those who hold no religious beliefs should suddenly pretend to be religious. That would be to miss the point. The point is that socialist organisation and thought have in the past been enriched and energised by critically engaging with various political currents that the struggle has pushed within its orbit, whether that be black liberation, green or feminist ideas. Is this period any different?


1: Said, 1985, p99.

2: Gilchrist, 2015.

3: Seymour, 2010.

4: Dominiczak, 2015.

5: See Bruckner, 2010.

6: Cameron, 2011.

7: Davidson, 2005, p97.

8: Goldberg, 2015.

9: Freedman, 2012.

10: Lean, 2014, p40.

11: See Mahamdallie, 2008.

12: Steyn, 2006, p5.

13: Koring, 2011.

14: Dobson, 2014.

15: Dobson, 2014, see also Khattab and Johnston, 2013.

16: Ali, 2015.

17: Young, 2014.

18: Alexander, 2015.

19: Ali, 2015, see also Danny Dorling on demographics and integration—Dorling, 2011.

20: Pew Research Center, 2014, It should be noted that figures relating to anti-Roma sentiment are considerably worse all round. Giving in to one set of prejudiced ideas leads you to fall for other sets of racial stereotypes.

21: Israel, 2002 and 2008.

22: Harman, 2007.

23: Gibbon, 1995, pp177-178.

24: Burgat, 2003, pp18-19.

25: When Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa condemning writer Salman Rushdie to death after the publication of his book The Satanic Verses in 1989—see Ahmed, 2013.

26: Mahamdallie, 2007, p113.

27: See Mahamdallie, 2007.

28: Malik, 2005.

29: Marx, 1969.

30: Mekic, 2015, p132.

31: Meer and Modood, 2012.

32: Malik, 2005.

33: From the author’s own experience.

34: Allen, Isakjee, and Ögtem Young, 2014.

35: Clark and Drinkwater, 2007.

36: BBC News, 2005.

37: Owen, 2013.

38: Stone, 2015.

39: Allen, Isakjee, and Ögtem Young, 2014.

40: Fekete, 2009, pp98-99.

41: Runnymede Trust, 1997, p4.

42: Runnymede Trust, 1997, p4.

43: Richardson, 2003.

44: Ahmed, 2013, p191.

45: Al-Azmeh, 1996, pp169-170.

46: Boas, 1944, p15.

47: Callinicos, 1995, p169.

48: Boas, 1944, p225.

49: Callinicos, 2015.

50: Friedersdorf, 2013; see also

51: Bowling and Phillips, 2003.

52: Taylor and Muir, 2014.

53: Taylor and Muir, 2014.

54: Grice and Merrill, 2014.

55: Fekete, 2009, p77.

56: BBC News, 2015.

57: Milne, 2014.

58: Ali, 2002, p4.

59: See Bangstad, 2014.

60: Kundnani, 2015b.

61: Kundnani, 2015b.

63: Families Against Stress and Trauma—

64: Kundnani, 2015a. Details of the Manchester case, involving a young SWP member, are in Kundnani’s book The Muslims Are Coming!—Kundnani, 2014, pp153-156.

65: Field, 2015.

66: See also Wolfreys, 2015.

67: Phillips, 2008, p105.

68: Birt, 2005, pp103-105.

69: Wadud, 2006, p16.

70: Esack, 1996, chapter 7.


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