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The Securitization - Integration Dilemma: The Case of British Muslims

Integration
Migration
Populism
Sevgi Cilingir
Dokuz Eylül University
Sevgi Cilingir
Dokuz Eylül University

Abstract

Mostly immigrated in the post-World War II period, Muslims of Western Europe have become an internal other of Western/European/national identity. Following 9/11, otherization has taken the form of securitization. In the meantime, there is an increasing demand for their integration. This paper examines the dilemma between securitization and integration of Muslims in Western Europe in the case of Britain. Well over their first generation of immigration and mostly citizens, the assumed lack of Muslims’ integration has become a security concern in relation to the city riots of 2001 and the post 9/11 threat of radical Islamist terrorism - which has raised a state of urgency following the 7/7 bombings of 2005 in London, perpetrated by individuals born and/or raised in Britain. Building on securitization theory of the Copenhagen School, the paper analyzes the securitization of British Muslims and their integration by main political actors - the government and the opposition - between 2001 and 2015. The methodology rests on the conditions for securitization stated by the Copenhagen School which include discourse and policy elements, complemented with methodological tools introduced by critical discourse theories. Elements of context, continuity and dominance offered by various contributors to securitization literature are also incorporated. The analysis determined that, although it presents an inclusive approach to integration through harmonization with a collective identity constructed pluralistically, the securitization discourse that dominates mainstream British politics on the integration of Muslim immigrants prevents the desired integration due to its otherizing components. As for the adopted policies, it has been conferred that (1) securitization results in a one-sided and conditional incorporation of Muslims which contradicts the very nature of integration, (2) the integration model has transitioned away from multiculturalism towards assimilationism, and (3) securitization has been institutionalized and reproduced through a politics of unease. In order for Muslims to become integrated as intended, the language of security, which evokes suspicion, animosity and a state of vigilance towards them should be abandoned.