Young Muslims and Exclusion - experiences of 'othering'

Pihlaja, Stephen and Thompson, Naomi. 2017. Young Muslims and Exclusion - experiences of 'othering'. Youth and Policy, ISSN 0262-9798 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Research we completed in 2016 with 19 Muslim university students in London and Birmingham suggests they often feel exclusion most strongly after such events. The exclusionary experiences our participants faced took place on public transport, in the streets, at work, and at school and university. They included a combination of both subtle and direct experiences of exclusion; for example, from a London participant noticing that no-one would sit next to her on the tube to a Birmingham participant having a woman refuse to move her bag so she could sit down on the bus and directly accusing her of causing terrorism – both following the 2015 Paris attacks. The significance of ‘dressing Muslim’, particularly through wearing the hijab, emerged in the narratives of the young women we spoke to, with them often reporting to be perceived in ways that other them such as ‘foreigner’, ‘problematic’ and even as ‘extremist’.

Other scholars have suggested that Muslim young people and communities struggle with these ‘othering’ discourses which are communicated through media and policy as well as experienced in their everyday lives (see Ahmed, 2015; Jeldtoft, 2012; Khan, 2013). Khan (2013) refers to this process as ‘theyification’ which he argues is consolidated by policy, practice and even research. The examples from our research are explored in two articles we have submitted to other journals: ‘“I just love the Queen” Positioning in Young Muslim Discourse’ (Pihlaja and Thompson, forthcoming in Discourse, Context and Media) and ‘Temporary liberties and uncertain futures: perceptions of young Muslim women on life in Britain’ (Thompson and Pihlaja, under review). Here, we explore an example that has not been included in these other articles.
In the extract explored in detail below, Habiba (a pseudonym), an African Muslim of Somali heritage, explains her shock at being labelled a racist by another Black woman, and her feelings at being ‘othered’ by her because of her clothing.

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Additional Information:

The research was funded by Middlesex University.


exclusion, othering, young Muslims

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)
Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS) > Faiths and Civil Society


4 September 2017Accepted
11 September 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

19 Sep 2017 10:27

Last Modified:

15 Nov 2019 10:17

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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