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Identity and Integration among Turkish Sunni Muslims in Britain

This article attempts to analyze various aspects of ethnic and religious identity configurations among the Turkish Sunni Muslims in Britain and to explore how such social processes influence their socio-political integration. It tries to situate the Turkish community in the context of British Muslim identity politics. Findings in this article are based on in-depth interviews on perceptions and attitudes the Turkish Sunni Muslims have and their implications in the planning of collective activities, especially in the field of education. This study reveals that although the current level of integration among the Turkish Sunni Muslims in Britain is less than expected, neither living in a non-Muslim country nor claiming to have a British identity are perceived as incompatible with Turkish and Islamic values. This paper concludes that educating Turkish youths in ethnic and religious values is a priority, as it is seen as a means to protect against assimilation, while allowing for successful integration.

Identity and Integration among Turkish Sunni Muslims in Britain
The main regional, political, ideological and sectarian cleavages in Turkey are generally reproduced in foreign settings, which bring their own respective separation and intergroup tensions irrespective of British domestic politics.
 

In Europe, there has been an increasing tendency towards the securitization of immigration regimes2 and a retreat away from multiculturalism and integrationism towards assimilationism in immigrant incorporation policies. The main reasons for rethinking immigration policies appear to revolve around Islam and Muslims. This is manifest in the media coverage of Islam and Muslims in general, and some politicians’ discourses, while it is mostly latent in government and legal discourses.3 The re-consideration of immigrant-related policies often begins with liberal premises, including the discussion of individual versus group rights and national identity. But, it evolves based on essentialist assumptions attributed to the basic tenets of Islam and its perceived

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