FEAR AND LOATHING: THE POLITICAL DISCOURSE IN RELATION TO MUSLIMS AND ISLAM IN THE BRITISH CONTEMPORARY SETTING
Following the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001 (‘9/11’), the Los Angeles Times wrote that the ‘next big thing’ was likely to be fear. This paper seeks to consider how the notion of fear and threat has influenced and shaped British political discourse in relation to Muslims and Islam – especially ‘home-grown’ Muslims and Islam - over the past decade or so. Considering the broad spectrum of British politics, including both mainstream and fringe, this paper begins with a consideration of the British National Party (BNP) and the way in which it has grown and gained electoral success on the back of overtly anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic campaigns. Considering the influence of this on the establishment and development of the English Defence League, the discourse of other political actors including the New Labour Government is explored to highlight the closing of difference between the left and right wings of British political discourse. To conclude, Martin Barker’s theories of ‘new racism’ are explored as a means of understanding the changes in the British political spaces before conclusions are drawn that highlight what might be evidence of a hardening of ideas and attitudes about Muslims and Islam more widely
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