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Friday, September 6, 2013

Identity in action

This video entitled 50+ EDL Vs 30+ Muslim Youths In Birmingham - EDL Run Out Of Brum that has been seen 521,000 times is one of many that have appeared on YouTube over the past couple of years and document - some times even glorify - Muslim assertiveness in response to the activities of English Defense League. Such narratives of resistance are becoming more commonplace day by day and constitute part of an increasing in volume Muslim 'mythology of resistance' replete with heroes, memorable events and a geography of protest. As we are arguing in our forthcoming book Islam in Europe, this type of action constitutes one of the ways in which a European Muslim identity is forged, sometimes articulated to, often suppressing diverse ethnic and local identifications and experiences. 

[The ways in which Muslims in Europe are represented by the mainstream or the extreme right provide] a lens through which they themselves see (and shape) their relationship with the broader societies which they are a part of. It impacts on their repertoire of collective representations and actions and in their attempts to gain control over the ways they become visible and they are heard. In a way, policy and societal definitions of European Muslims attempt to curtail their rights in response to the securitization of the way they are seen and understood by authorities and public opinion. These set in motion reactions on the part of Europe’s Muslim communities, which often take the form of increased assertiveness, giving rise, in the process, to what amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy in the eyes of those recognizing in this assertiveness a threat. And, crucially, these perceptions and actions of European Muslims are constitutive of their very own identities and consciousness as ‘European Muslims’.

On the other hand, interestingly, the islamophobia inspiring the members of English Defense League is, in a perverse - although some might say, deliberate - way constitutive of the very object of the fear and hatred that can be found at its heart.

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