European Islamophobia Report – UK, 2016

Arzu overviews events relating to Islamophobia in the Uk in 2016 for SETA.

Read the report (p583 onwards) here.

Executive Summary

The year began with policy announcements from the erstwhile Prime Minister David Cameron regarding funding for English language classes for Muslim women he deemed were ‘traditionally submissive’ and therefore unable in some cases to combat the radicalisation of their sons. The event signalled another shift in discourse that targeted perceived cultural and social lack amongst Muslims and tied them to social ills, often but not exclusively linked with terrorism. Other forms of discursive Islamophobia emerged or escalated around the issues of radicalisation of children; disloyalty to Britain and British values; and immigration, migration and refugees. Policies and laws reflected this shift, with further laws mooted to combat extremism, which were criticised by some police figures as creating thought policing. Policies in education further reflected this shift and the year saw the official schools inspectorate announced it would downgrade schools that allowed girls and young women to wear nikab. The focus on women continued with more attacks against women reported as victims of reported Islamophobic hate crimes, in particular the assault of a pregnant woman who miscarried as a result. Nevertheless the Casey review into integration lay the blame for Muslim marginalisation on Muslim failure to integrate into society. Media representation of Muslims continued to be problematic, however a number of campaigns and initiatives, sought to tackle individual infractions of existing press regulation codes, as well as more strategic campaigns focusing on effecting more structural change. The statutory Prevent duty continued to cause alarm, with more cases of Muslim profiling of children as young as 4 years of age being reported. The two highly significant electoral events of the year – the mayoral contest for London and the EU Referendum – both had highly charge campaigns that instrumentalised Islamophobic and racist discourse. Civil society mobilisation, particularly amongst Muslim groups, was further curtailed by the shifting narrative which continued to delegitimise mobilisation around issues of racism.


Arzu Merali is the head of research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission ( based in London, UK. She has graduated from Cambridge University and has a BA (Hons) in English Literature, an MA (Hons) in English Literature (Cantab) and an MA (Hons) in International Relations (Kent). She is the author of various, articles, papers and books on racism, Islamophobia and human rights. Her latest book is co-authored with Saied R. Ameli (2015) ‘Environment of Hate: The New Normal for Muslims in the UK.’ E-mail: