On conceptualizing Islamophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment and cultural racism

Meer, Nasar and Modood, Tariq (2008) On conceptualizing Islamophobia, anti-Muslim sentiment and cultural racism. In: Thinking Thru' Islamophobia, 2008-05-07 - 2008-05-07, Centre of Ethnicity and Racism Studies, University of Leeds.

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One of the issues that has bedevilled an informed discussion of anti-Muslim discourse of late has surrounded the correct use of terminology (Richardson, 2006). Perhaps the best illustration of this can be found in the term Islamophobia which, and while "emerging as a neologism in the 1970s" (Rana, 2007: 148), became increasinglysalient during the 1980s and 1990s, and arguably received its public policy prominence with the Runneymede Trust‘s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI) (1997) Islamophobia: a challenge for us all. Defined as "an unfounded hostility towards Islam, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims" (ibid. 4), the report proposed eight argumentative positions conceived asencapsulating its meaning; through which the commission sought to draw attention to its assessment that "anti-Muslim prejudice has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed" (CBMI, 1997: 4). This,of course, was before global events had elevated the issue to a prominence previouslyonly hinted at, and which resulted in a second sitting of the commission that heard testimonies from leading Muslim figures of how "there is not a day that we do nothave to face comments so ignorant that even Enoch Powell would not have made them" (Baroness Uddin quoted in CBMI, 2004: 3).