At critical times, hegemonic racialisation of immigrant minorities has entailed their criminalisation, especially that of their young men. In the UK following the ‘Rushdie Affair’ of 1989, and in both Britain and Australia following these states’ involvement in the 1990-91 Gulf War, the ‘Muslim Other’ was increasingly targeted in cycles of racialised moral panic. This has intensified dramatically since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing ‘War on Terror’.
The young men of Muslim immigrant communities in both these nations have, over the subsequent period, been the subject of heightened popular and state Islamophobia in relation to: perceived ‘ethnic gangs’; alleged deviant, predatory masculinity including so-called ‘ethnic gang rape’; and paranoia about Islamist ‘radicalisation’ and its supposed bolstering of terrorism. In this context, the earlier, more genuinely social-democratic and egalitarian, aspects of state approaches to ‘integration’ have been supplanted, briefly glossed by a rhetoric of ‘social inclusion’, by reversion to increasingly oppressive assimilationist and socially controlling forms of integrationism. This article presents some preliminary findings from fieldwork in Greater Manchester over 2012, showing how mainly British-born Muslims of immigrant background have experienced these processes.