It was a few short weeks after 9/11 that I began researching Muslim European communities – a research project and doctoral thesis that would eventually turn into a book entitled “Muslims of Europe: the European ‘Other’.” I remember early on, sitting with one of my academic mentors, who was an authority in the field, as he expressed his frustration over how the British media would cover that community on a popular level. “I’m convinced,” he said, “that there are certain journalists who just have a rolodex of contacts that they know will not give them an informative viewpoint – only a really catchy, extremist one. And those are the ones they keep on going to – and we, the public, don’t get to understand things more, but only less.” He might have been right, or he might have been wrong – but in the aftermath of the killing of Lee Rigby, the off-duty solider in Woolwich who was brutally killed by radical Islamist extremists, it seems my mentor’s point remains important to consider.
Asking the right question
It is difficult to know who actually “represents” the Muslim British community, considering the vast diversity and absence of a church-like structureH.A. Hellyer