Muslim-State Relations in Great Britain: An Evolving Story

  • Nasar Meer
  • Tariq Modood
Part of the The Modern Muslim World book series (MMUS)


The concern of this chapter, as that of the book as a whole, is to explore contemporary relationships between Muslim minorities and the state, with a particular focus upon structural and cultural dynamics.1 In this regard the case of Britain is illustrative. This is because an analysis of political and institutional responses to Muslim “difference” in Britain details a pattern of engagement that has evolved over a period of time. This can be framed in terms of rising agendas of racial equality and multiculturalism to which Muslims have become central—even while they have challenged important aspects of these. This implies that these developments have neither been linear nor unproblematic, and have been characterized by various ongoing contestations and revisions.2 According to some authors, what this engagement has accomplished presently looks to be in retreat and at best remains uncertain.3 Indeed, Prime Minister Cameron in particular has, since his time in opposition, characterized British multiculturalism as a “barrier” dividing British society.4 Subsequently, in office, he has argued that “the doctrine of ‘state multiculturalism’ has encouraged culturally different people to live apart from one another and apart from the mainstream.”5 Perhaps seeking to stake out a British Leitkultur, Cameron has also complained that multiculturalism has led to the minimization of Christianity as a guiding public ethos, and has “allowed segregated communities to behave in ways that run completely counter to our values and has not contained that extremism but allowed it to grow and prosper.”6


Ethnic Minority Muslim Community Citizenship Education South Asian Woman Great BRITAIN 
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© Nasar Meer and Tariq Modood 2016

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  • Nasar Meer
  • Tariq Modood

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