Muslim woman and children in London demonstrate against Islamophobia. Photo Credit: Photofusion/UIG/Getty Images

England is now more pro-immigrant – but it’s more Islamophobic too

Article in The Guardian
4 September, 2017

This report is in part a good sign. The migration policy debates of the past years have succeeded at educating a part of the public about the benefits of migration, and have conveyed the idea that migration is made of complex phenomena that stereotypes cannot properly represent. A more sophisticated and nuanced public opinion is emerging. The same will happen for opinions about Islam. In both cases, it will be a generational shift: short-termism does not respond to the challenges and we all need to strategise for the coming decades.

“the report also details a significant rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. 42% of people said that the recent terrorist attacks have increased their suspicion of Muslims in Britain, including many of those in the more liberal groups. Around 50% of people would be willing to see relaxation of human rights protections to “help fight terrorism,” and a similar proportion see Islam itself as “a threat to the west”.

Only 10% of the population see themselves as being “similar” to Muslims. This baseline perception of fundamental difference seems to reinforce the stereotype that immigrants fail to integrate and also, ironically, opposition to wanting them to do so…

This polarisation is worrying because it provides more evidence that England is failing to resist the processes of cumulative extremism, or what academic Douglas Pratt calls “reactive co-radicalisation”, in which extremist conceptions of “the other” become normalised across the population. In such an environment, responses to violence themselves triggers counter-responses in a vicious cycle of increased suspicion and enmity…

It is easy to see how politicians, pulled to and fro as they are by electoral concerns, could find themselves tempted to pander to these fears. The path of least resistance is always to position yourself against the current enemies. Many seem to believe that they can play both sides, by denouncing obvious crimes by the “othered” population while providing boilerplate “but not all of them, of course” disclaimers to provide cover for their nudge-nudge-wink-wink invocation of racist tropes.”

To access the full article, please click here

Share this: