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Counter-Islamophobia Kit

October 4th 2018

The Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies of the University of Leeds has been running a 2-year project which aimed to critically review dominant anti-Muslim narratives, and also compare the use and efficacy of prevailing counter-narratives to Islamophobia in eight European Union member states (France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal, Greece and the UK).

Findings based on normative patterns of Islamophobia and effective counter-narratives to anti-Muslim hatred in each case have informed the production of a transferable ‘Counter-Islamophobia Kit’ (CIK), which aims to detail best-practice in countering anti-Muslim hate across the continent. The key messages contained within the CIK are aimed at policy makers, professionals and practitioners from across the EU.

The Toolkit

Written by Prof. Ian Law, Dr Amina Easat-Daas and Prof. S. Sayyid, the overall aim of the Toolkit is to compare the operation of counter-narratives to Islamophobia in eight European Union member states (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and United Kingdom) in order to examine their use and
effectiveness in terms of providing alternatives to prevailing narratives of Islamophobia. This addresses the need for a deeper understanding and awareness of the range and operation of counter-narratives to Islamophobia across the EU, and the lack of a systematic categorisation and ranking of these two types of narratives across Europe.

In particular the paper examines:

  • The main types and content of dominant narratives of Islamophobia
  • The main types and content of counter-narratives to Islamophobia
  • The main legal and policy interventions through which the European human rightslaw apparatus has attempted to conceptually analyse and legally address Islamophobia.

The results are based on fieldwork with 272 politicians and policymakers, NGOs and activists, and media, arts and academic professionals and textual data from political, policy, media and NGO discourse, and digital data from social media platforms.

Ten Dominant Narratives of Islamophobia

  1. Threat to security
  2. Unassimilable
  3. Demographic threat and proselytization (denouncing the alleged increase of the number of Muslim individuals in European countries and the supposed consequent spread of Islamic religion at the expense of the state)
  4. Theocracy (the supposed prevalence of the exclusive reference to religious norms and values made by Muslims when dealing with societal matters)
  5. Threat to identity
  6. Gender inequality
  7. Ontological diversity (Muslims and Islam as essentially and irremediably different from non- Muslim population and the associated moral landscape)
  8. Innate violence
  9. Incomplete citizenship
  10. Homophobia (Islam equates with bigotry and thus intolerant towards homosexuals)

Ten Dominant Counter-Narratives to Islamophobia

  1. Challenging and contextualising constructions of Muslim ‘threat’
  2. Building inclusive nations: challenging exclusive and discriminatory national projects
  3. Cultural compatibility and conviviality: challenging the narrative separation of cultural and ethnic groups
  4. Elaborating plurality: challenging narratives of Muslim singularity
  5. Challenging narratives of sexism
  6. Building inclusive futures
  7. Deracialising the state: challenging institutional narratives
  8. Emphasising humanity and Muslim normalisation: challenging narratives of division
  9. Creating Muslim space(s)
  10. Challenging distorted representation: verity and voice

For developments on this issue in each of the countries,read the blog posts.
Read more about the project in general here.