Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

JONATHAN GITHENS-Mazer

ROBERT LAMBERT MBE

The perils of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime threaten to undermine basic human rights, fundamental aspects of citizenship and co-existing partnerships for Muslims and non- Muslims alike in contemporary Europe. Routine portrayals of Islam as a religion of hatred, violence and inherent intolerance have become key planks for the emergence of extremist nationalist, anti-immigration politics in Europe – planks which seek to exploit populist fears and which have the potential to lead to Muslim disempowerment in Europe. Sections of the media have created a situation where the one serves to heighten the unfounded claims and anxieties of the other – such that politicians from Austria to the Britain, and the Netherlands to Spain, feel comfortable in using terms like “Tsunamis of Muslim immigration”, and accuse Islam of being a fundamental threat to a “European way of life”. While in many cases, the traction of this populist approach reflects an ignorance of Islamic faith, practice and belief, there are many think-tanks which are currently engaged in promoting erroneous depictions of Islam and Muslim political beliefs through unsubstantiated and academically baseless studies, and a reliance on techniques such as ‘junk-polling’. Prior to researching Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime in London, we worked with Muslim Londoners to research the contested notion of what is widely termed by academics and policy makers as “violent radicalisation” (Githens-Mazer, 2010, Lambert 2010). To a large extent it was that prior research experience that persuaded us to embark on this new project. That is to say, there is an important link between the two areas
of work which we should explain at the outset. Since 9/11 Muslim Londoners, no less than Muslims in towns and cities across Europe, have often been unfairly stigmatised as subversive threats to state security and social cohesion, sometimes characterised as a fifth column (Cox and Marks 2006, Gove 2006, Mayer and Frampton 2009). We do not suggest that this stigmatisation did not exist before 9/11, still less do we argue that it revolves solely around the issues of security and social cohesion, but we do claim that the response to 9/11 – ‘the war on terror’ – and much of the rhetoric that has surrounded it has played a significant part in increasing the public perception of European Muslims as potential enemies rather than potential partners and neighbours.

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Filed Under: άρθραΠροτεινόμεναΗνωμένες Πολιτείες & Ευρώπη

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