Islamophobia and the Problematization of Mosques: A Critical Exploration of Hate Crimes and the Symbolic Function of ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Mosques in the United Kingdom

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Most scholarly studies have tended to focus on the building of new and proposed mosques, and in particular how they are sites of conflict and contestation symbolic of wider ‘problems’ associated with Muslims and Islam in the U.K.. This study focuses on an overlooked aspect within this, the extent to which attacks on mosques that are neither new nor proposed perform a similar symbolic function. Presenting new empirical evidence from research undertaken with ten mosques across the United Kingdom that had been targeted for attack, we begin by exploring the existing literature on the problematization of mosques using the lens of critical Islamophobia studies to do so. Setting out what is known about attacks on mosques in the British setting, empirical findings from the research are used to illustrate the type and manifestation of attacks experienced, going on to consider the drivers and catalysts for them. Exploring the similarities and differences between the conflict and contestation associated with new mosques and the attacks on mosques that are not new, this study concludes that some resonance exists in the symbolic function mosques continue to serve in the community. In conclusion, the significant resonance between Islamophobically-motivated attacks against mosques with those against the individuals are considered.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-308
JournalJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs
Issue number3
Early online date16 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • mosques, Islamophobia, Muslim communities, Problematisation, hate crime, United Kingdom