Refutations of racism in the 'Muslim question'

Meer, Nasar and Modood, Tariq (2009) Refutations of racism in the 'Muslim question'. Patterns of Prejudice, 43 (3-4). pp. 335-354. ISSN 0031-322X

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Abstract

Meer and Modood identify a variety of reasons why the notion that Muslim minorities could be subject to racism by virtue of their real or perceived 'Muslimness' is met with much less sympathy than the widely accepted notion that other religious minorities in Europe, particularly Jewish groups, can be the victims of racism. They begin by elaborating the relationships between Islamophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment and cultural racism, before turning to the results of interviews with journalists who make allegedly formative contributions to our understanding of anti-Muslim sentiment. Meer and Modood delineate and discuss four tendencies. The first is the conceptualization of racism that assumes that the protections afforded to racial minorities conventionally conceived as involuntarily constituted should not be extended to Muslims because theirs is a religious identity that is voluntarily chosen. The second is that the way that religion per se is frowned upon by the contemporary intelligentsia invites the ridiculing of Muslims as being salutary for intellectual debate and not, therefore, an issue of discrimination. Third, while ethnic identities are welcomed in the public space, there is much more unease about religious minorities. Finally, some find it difficult to sympathize with a minority that is perceived to be disloyal or associated with terrorism, a view that leads to a perception of Muslims as a threat rather than as a disadvantaged minority, subject to increasingly pernicious discourses of racialization. Each of these tendencies could benefit from further study, underscoring the need for a greater exploration of anti-Muslim discourse.