A ‘system of self-appointed leaders'? Examining modes of Muslim representation in governance in Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Stephen Jones
  • Therese O'Toole
  • Daniel Nilsson DeHanas
  • Tariq Modood
  • Nasar Meer

Colleges, School and Institutes


Since the turn of the century Britain has seen a proliferation of Muslim civil society organisations and an increase in the number of points of contact between Muslim spokespersons and government. Yet, this increased participation in UK governance has been a source of fierce controversies centring on the role of conservative male leaderships and the influence of radical Islamic groups. Drawing on interviews with 42 national elites who have engaged in UK Muslim–government relations in the past decade, this article charts the emergence of national-level Muslim representation and assesses its relationship to democratic participation and accountability. Building on the work of Michael Saward, we argue that unelected civil society representatives can act as an important supplement to elected representatives. We show how four modes of Muslim representation have emerged in the last decade—‘delegation’, ‘authority’, ‘expertise’ and ‘standing’—creating dynamic competition among representative claims.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number2
Early online date16 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • representation, Muslim, Islam, unelected, governance