Feeling at home and seeing the other side: Muslim responses to right-wing populism
Is it going to be an Islamised Europe or Europeanised Islam? This is a question, a final ultimatum, almost apocalyptic, posed by commentators on Right-wing populism (RWP) across both sides of the Atlantic. RWP has stimulated profound structural shifts in European politics. What isn’t disputed is that at its embryonic phase, this particular socio-political phenomenon was responding to everyday voices at the microsocial level. For the most part, academia has however focused on the macrosocial level. Regards the Muslims – a key target of RWP ideology – their voices in response are absent in the current literature. I therefore asked: has RWP affected Muslim identity? If so, why and how has this occurred? This thesis applies an interpretative sociological approach and qualitative methodology to conduct fieldwork in three European cities: Malmo, Copenhagen and Edinburgh. The data constituting the empirical basis of the study is from a subset of 28 participants (second-generation and converts) from a total 45 who participated. The data was subjected to narrative analysis to identify the main factors influencing the participants’ responses to RWP. Although the participants’ exhibited a range of ‘social creative responses’, these were in response to stigmatisation primarily. The data showed no ‘reactive’ Muslim identity emerging as a response to RWP. The participants perceived other factors as having a far greater impact on their everyday lives than RWP activism. Two main factors emerged: (segregation and second-class citizenship) influencing the production of Muslim identities. Malmo and Copenhagen, characterised by ethno-cultural segregation created more obstacles impeding equal citizenship by comparison to Edinburgh, where a small dispersed Muslim community benefitted from a civic nationalism and aspirational pluralism.