Impacts of Islamophobia on the political and civic participation of young Muslims in Scotland

Authors: Robin Finlay*, Newcastle University
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Social Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Islamophobia, Muslim Identities, Youth, Political Participation, Scotland
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Balcony L, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is a growing body of work that has examined the political engagements of young Muslims in a variety of Muslim-minority contexts. However, as highlighted by Nagel and Staeheli (2011), what shapes and motivates the political participations of Muslims has been side-lined in much of the literature, with the focus primarily on the varied types of participations. Given that the lived experiences of young Muslims frequently entail distinctive challenges, with a range of prejudices and structural inequalities being negotiated, there is a need to examine how these impact and shape the political and civic participation of Muslim youths. In this paper then, our attention is on factors that shape and influence political and civic participation of Muslim youths in Scotland. As we found Islamophobia to be a highly pertinent feature of the lived worlds of the young Muslim participants in Scotland, our main focus is on how Islamophobia intersects with, and shapes, their political and civic participations. We argue that political and civic participations are significantly shaped by the varied articulations of Islamophobia in contemporary society. We demonstrate that its impacts are varied and paradoxical, with some responding and challenging Islamophobia through political participations, as it is a way to challenge stereotypes and re-represent themselves. While for others, Islamophobia is significant barrier to participation, making young people anxious about public engagement in politics and civic life. Therefore, Islamophobia can engender and mobilize political resistance, but it can also work to discipline young Muslims and marginalise their political identities.

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