Islamophobia and Muslim Women in Britain

Stream: Panel 6 - Comparative Politics: The International Political Economy of Islamophobia
Date: Monday, 26 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


With the rise of Islamophobia in post-9/11 Britain there have been renewed discussions around multiculturalism, integration of Muslims into British society, and the scope of freedom of religion. Islamophobia is inherently linked to broader gender issues, and is influenced by the underlying gender hierarchies that exist within state institutions. There have been proposals by UK Prime Minister David Cameron that appear to specifically target Muslim women, such as a language program that is argued to help ensure they do not fall prey to radicalisation and the propaganda of groups, such as IS. This view corresponds with feminist opposition to multiculturalism, where it is argued that minority women are oppressed; a view which has been appropriated consistently in response to Muslim communities within Western liberal democracies, such as the UK, and has been employed by state and societal responses that favour a “retreat” from multiculturalism. However, particularly since 9/11, Muslim women are not just viewed as “victims” of the apparently oppressive patriarchal traditions of their communities; as Shakira Hussein argues, there has been a shift to also view Muslim women as “suspects”. In this paper I aim to highlight how the renewed focus on Muslim integration in Britain, along with the focus on Muslim women, has been used by the British government to justify increased allocation of resources to state responses to extremism.


Amira Aftab (Presenter), Macquarie University
Doctoral Candidate, Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University, Sydney.