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How Boris Johnson could incite more Muslim women to don the burqa

Boris Johnson’s inflammatory remarks about women who wear the burqa have sparked outrage and fierce debate on a problem that was already extremely emotive. Because the European Union referendum, group relations between Muslims and non-Muslims have develop into more and more fraught. There have been rises in race and hate crimes, a lot of which have been Islamophobic in nature – with the targets primarily being girls of Asian ethnicity, assumed to be Muslim.

Whereas some have tried to excuse Johnson’s feedback – he referred to burqa wearers as letterboxes or bank robbers – this isn’t the primary time he has made statements with overtly racist terminology. Some commentators have argued the previous overseas secretary’s phrases are an try to stay on the forefront of politics, amid the potential for a Conservative get together leadership contest.

If that is an try and seize headlines, Johnson’s ways are a replica and paste of what labored so efficiently for US President Donald Trump and former White Home chief strategist Steve Bannon. Their marketing campaign centered on evoking a sense of nationalism that had apparently been misplaced, and making contentious statements within the media that might provoke angry responses. Johnson seems to be in contact with Bannon who has endorsed him as a possible future Tory leader.

The success of the Trump marketing campaign and the continued grassroots support the US president enjoys have illustrated that if politicians are capable of create a shared scapegoat(s) that may be blamed for all social ills, then it does not matter what the details are. The narrative simply must be repeated with out pause.

The Trump administration’s ongoing criticism of Muslims, and his ban on travel from sure Muslim nations, has had an effect on the lives of Muslims in America. It has additionally led to a rise in hate crimes and targeting of Muslims in America.

burqa niqab
A demonstrator wears a niqab throughout a protest exterior the French embassy in London April 11, 2011.
REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Picture

Asserting id

On the coronary heart of all of this are the communities getting used for collateral within the furthering of political aspirations. When politicians make statements like these Johnson did, they legitimise racism – or on the very least ridicule and harassment.

Usually these feedback are taken to justify much darker actions. For many who already despise Muslims, the feedback of a senior public determine who likens Muslim girls to criminals may very well be an invite to do hurt. Earlier this 12 months a younger man was sentenced to a minimum 20 years in prison for repeatedly operating over a Muslim lady in a hate crime. He reportedly stated he was doing it for his country, and tried in charge the London 7/7 bombings for his actions.

Modes of costume

Muslims within the UK are feeling besieged by the fixed menace they’re below. The face overlaying veil, the niqab (a face veil that leaves the area around the eyes clear which is also known as the burqa within the media and standard dialogue), which has come to outline Muslims in Europe, is barely worn by a tiny proportion of Muslims. Numbers are nearly unattainable to garner as typically statistics on girls’s clothes usually are not collected broadly. However based on figures out there from different European nations it may roughly be estimated that with a UK Muslim inhabitants of two.8m, round 836 girls (zero.zero01% of the UK inhabitants) might be sporting a niqab/burqa.

It’s staggering that such a tiny proportion has created a lot consternation and the necessity to combat a lot negativity. Not less than 100 girls who establish as sporting the burqa have written to the Tory party demanding motion towards Johnson, and ladies who put on face veils have spoken about their choices following his feedback.

What has been attention-grabbing to notice is that regardless of the rising charges of assaults on Muslim girls, there’s some anecdotal proof of an increase in sales of niqab. Whereas this may appear inimical to welfare given the state of affairs, this act demonstrates a properly understood phenomena of teams below menace. When a bunch feels that their id is being challenged, they work laborious to guard it, typically by reinforcing and reproducing acts that clearly define them. Within the aftermath of 9/11, the worldwide backlash towards Muslims resulted in additional younger American Muslims adopting more visible Islamic dress – the hijab (headband) for ladies and beards for males.

Now, the continued and resurgent Islamophobia requires a extra elevated step in id affirmation. And which may be one of many explanation why the niqab is changing into extra seen in society. This factors to the ironic indisputable fact that it’s relentless assaults on Muslims which are making a extra seen Muslim presence within the UK. And as this visibility grows so do assaults and additional tensions. It’s crucial for group relations that this harmful cycle of assault and defiance is damaged quickly.

Nilufar Ahmed, Senior Lecturer in Public Well being, Coverage and Social Sciences, Swansea University

This text was initially printed on The Conversation. Learn the original article.

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