Crime and the fear of Muslims

Authored by: Scott Poynting

The Routledge International Handbook on Fear of Crime

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138120334
eBook ISBN: 9781315651781
Adobe ISBN:


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Much amplification of fear of crime proceeds via moral panic, with the construction of a feared ‘other’ that is criminally inclined, and often portrayed as inherently violent. The extent to which such ‘folk devils’ are racialised is often underplayed in criminology, though in respect of ‘mugging’ it was rigorously analysed by Hall et al. (1978). Many of the staples of fear of crime are discursively interwoven with the construction of an imagined typical perpetrator or criminogenic community that is racialised. So it is with the ‘Muslim Other’, be it in drug trade, criminal gangs, youth gangs, sexual assault, child abuse, ‘grooming’, family violence, forced marriage, ‘honour killing’, human trafficking, irregular immigration or terrorism. This chapter considers two current forms of ‘fear of Muslims’ relating to crime. Firstly, the ‘fear’ expressed by anti-Muslims or Islamophobes, is not really about fearfulness; it serves rather as a screen for the contemporary pursuit of colonialism. The chapter argues the relative importance of the second form of ‘fear of Muslims’, which is actually produced by the first. That is, Muslim communities made fearful of openly expressing their faith - or, even more ‘deviant’, political assertions of it - by vigilantism, public bullying, and plain discrimination.

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