Prevent-ing Muslimness in Britain: The Normalisation of Exceptional Measures to Combat Terrorism

Stefano Bonino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that the Prevent strand of the British counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) and the related normalisation of exceptional measures to combat terrorism have had a significant impact on the ways in which Muslim communities can play out their Muslimness in Britain. State treatment of Muslims as a suspect com- munity facilitates the (re)production of widespread Islamophobia that penetrates the social fabric and reinforces a popular image of Muslims as folk devils of late modernity. Those Muslims who exhibit popularly understood signifiers of their identity (e.g.: skin colour, beard, hijab) risk becoming an easy, immediate target for state discrimination and social prejudice. After exploring how this vicious cycle is pro- duced and reproduced at both the macro-(state) level and the meso/micro (community and individual) level, some tentative recommendations will be provided. These recommendations advocate for: preventative measures that are grounded on bottom-up approaches and that are able to empower Muslim communities; the promotion of a better, more nuanced understanding of Islam within broader society; and a reflection on the philosophical ideas of difference and diversity as they relate to the coexistence of pluralistic, multi-ethnic communities within post-modern, global societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-400
JournalJournal of Muslim Minority Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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