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Contemporary Experiences of Islamophobia in Today’s United Kingdom: Findings from Ten Small-Scale Studies

In today’s the United Kingdom, Islamophobia is as contested as it is real. Challenging this contestation, this article presents findings from ten small-scale, qualitative studies that seek to evidence and better understand the lived, tangible experience of Islamophobia in real-world spaces. To do so, this article briefly explores the development and incidence of Islamophobia in public and political spaces and how contestation has ensued. From here, the findings draw out how Muslims experience Islamophobia in their everyday lives, ranging from instances of verbal abuse through threats and intimidation to physical assault and violence. As part of this exploration, new insights are afforded into the role and impact of terrorist attacks on hate crimes, geopolitical and military conflicts, the content of Islamophobic abuse, and the rapidly changing nature of that, which shapes and informs tangible forms of Islamophobia. In doing so, this article concludes by contextualizing the realities of Islamophobia within the far from conducive public and political spaces of the UK. This article makes a timely contribution to and improves knowledge about Islamophobia in today’s UK.

Contemporary Experiences of Islamophobia in Today s United Kingdom Findings
Boris Johnson, UK’s current Prime Minister, has been routinely accused of being anti-Muslim. JEFF J MITCHELL / Getty Images
 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Just over two decades ago, a groundbreaking report published by the anti-racism think-tank the Runnymede Trust stated that Islamophobia in the United Kingdom (UK) was becoming “more explicit, more extreme and more dangerous,”1 describing the term itself as an ‘ugly’ word for an ‘ugly’ reality. One decade ago, Sayeeda Warsi –then Chair of the political party forming the majority of the Coalition government– announced that Islamophobia had passed the ‘dinner table test,’ as well as acquiring conversational civility and acceptability among the UK’s middle classes, so to had it become quite ‘normal’ to say things about Muslims that would never be said about

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