The rising tide of Islamophobia in the UK, stoked by the mainstream media, poses a direct threat to the country’s $190 billion tourism economy and Muslim investment in Britain, experts warn.
The United Kingdom is currently one of the most popular global destinations for Muslim travellers, while Gulf investors have lavished billions of dollars on prime London real estate and stakes in key British businesses.
But some warn that the UK stands to lose this favored status due to a rise in Islamophobic sentiment, public support for anti-Muslim right-wing groups, soaring hate crime figures and antagonistic media coverage.
One U.S.-based academic, who studies Muslim communities in the West and spent his childhood in the UK, said that Islamophobia in the UK is no longer confined to extreme neo-fascist groups – and was actually becoming part of the ‘establishment.’
Saeed Khan – lecturer in the Department of Near East & Asian Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he teaches Islamic and Middle East History, Islamic Civilizations and History of Islamic Political Thought – said this stands to impact tourism and investment.
“Islamophobia is no longer confined to just these fringe elements. We find politicians, opinion-makers and journalists who are not simply doing the bidding of these fringe groups, but in many ways are championing their rhetoric in demonizing Muslims,” Khan told Al Arabiya News. “That’s deeply disturbing and it will have an impact.”
Infographic: The Muslim travel boom