A sociological comparison of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment in Britain

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Abstract

Comparisons of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment (the latter also known as ‘Islamophobia’) are noticeably absent in British accounts of race and racism. This article critically examines some public and media discourse on Jewish and Muslim minorities to draw out the similarities and differences contained within anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment. It provides a rationale for focusing upon the period of greatest saliency for Jewish migrants prior to the Second World War, compared with the contemporary representation of Muslims, and identifies certain discursive tendencies operating within the representations of each minority. The article begins with a discussion of multiculturalism, cultural racism and racialization, followed by a brief exploration of the socio-historical dimensions of Jewish and Muslim groups, before turning to the public representation of each within their respective time-frames. The article concludes that there are both hitherto unnoticed similarities and important differences to be found in such a comparison, and that these findings invite further inquiry.

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