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What is being targeted when women become the victims of anti-Muslim hate crime: religion, or gender, or both?

1st December 2014

CGHR Research Group Seminar

What is being targeted when women become the victims of anti-Muslim hate crime: religion, or gender, or both?

Dr Julian Hargreaves (Centre of Islamic Studies, Cambridge)

Recent literature from the social sciences has argued that anti-Muslim hate crime includes an under-researched gendered dimension. Scholars in the UK and US have called for a more nuanced understanding of anti-Muslim hate crime against women; one that considers more frequently the interplay of religion and gender, and the negotiation of space and identity inherent within the responses to such risks by victims who are both Muslim and female. However, current debates around these topics are conducted, on the whole, with little recourse to empirical evidence. Subsequently, arguments for an increased emphasis on issues of gender and identity amongst female victims of anti-Muslim hate crime remain attractive rather than compelling. This paper first supports the notion that much of the existing research literature concerning anti-Muslim hate crime and discrimination has adopted either a non-gender specific approach or a demonstrable male bias in its descriptions of violent abuse and state-sponsored discrimination against British Muslim communities. Findings from an examination of large-scale social survey data are then used to describe the increased risks of hate crime and discrimination faced by British Muslim women (particularly in public places). Using these data, this paper argues that dominant narratives regarding Muslim victimisation by right-wing groups and discrimination by crime and security agencies have done much to overshadow or displace debates relating to the ‘everyday’ hate crimes suffered by British Muslim women. An examination of recent theoretical perspectives is combined with findings from the analysis of Crime Survey of England and Wales and Citizenship Survey data to support assertions from the literature relating to the pronounced and measurable targeting of gender embedded within much anti-Muslim hatred. Finally, this paper reflects on whether the prevalence of ‘everyday’ hate crime against British Muslim women might be capable of supporting arguments for the increased recognition of gender-based violence as a hate crime.