A leap of faith
Author: Ali Riaz

The tendency among ethnic minority Muslim immigrant communities in Europe towards identification with Islam as a marker of identity is discussed in an array of studies, but seldom have they explained sufficiently how the change took place. Islam and Identity Politics among British-Bangladeshis: A Leap of Faith probes the causes of and conditions for the preference of the members of the British-Bangladeshi community for a religion-based identity vis-à-vis ethnicity-based identity, and the influence of Islamists in shaping the discourse. It also examines whether this salience of Muslim identity is a precursor to a new variant of diasporic Islam. Islam and Identity Politics delves into the micro-level dynamics, the internal and external factors and the role of the state and locates these within the broad framework of Muslim identity and Islamism, citizenship and the future of multiculturalism in Europe.

Ali Riaz

1 The Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK A lthough migration of South Asians to Britain is intrinsically linked to the colonial history of the British Empire in India, it long predates the Raj. The first contact between South Asia and Britain can be traced back to the arrival of the East India Company (EIC) in India in 1612 when they established a trading post in the western coastal town of Surat. Throughout the seventeenth century, the company expanded its presence in the eastern part of the Mughal Empire, especially in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, secured

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
Sarah Glynn

Glynn 04_Tonra 01 19/06/2014 12:50 Page 79 4 British Bangladeshis Probashi Bengalis had shown massive support for their homeland as it struggled for independence, but after the war was over very few wanted to go back and live there. Some took up opportunities of influential positions with the ruling party, but generally the pulls were all in the other direction. This was the time when many of the Bengali men who were already working here began to bring over their wives and families – partly as a response to the traumas of separation and uncertainty that

in Class, ethnicity and religion in the Bengali East End
A difficult partnership
Harsh V. Pant

7 India and Bangladesh: a difficult partnership India’s relations with Bangladesh have suffered as New Delhi has failed to capitalize on the propitious political circumstances in Bangladesh in recent years with the coming to power of Sheikh Hasina of the Bangladesh Awami League (AL), who has taken great political risks to restore momentum in bilateral ties since 2008. Bureaucratic inertia and lack of political will on India’s part has prevented serious progress on outstanding bilateral issues. Bangladesh is seeking an expeditious Indian response to its demand

in Indian foreign policy
The internal factors
Ali Riaz

3 Identity, Islamism and politics: the internal factors A nalytical and ethnographic studies about the British-Bangladeshi community conducted around the turn of the twentieth century1 and the events described in Chapter 2 demonstrate that a Muslim identity has gained salience among a section of British-Bangladeshis, especially the younger generation. ‘More and more young Bengalis now identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims rather than as Bengali or Bangladeshi,’ concluded Gardner and Shukur in 1994.2 Until the late 1980s, the Bengali ethnic identity

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
Ali Riaz

2 A tale of two long summers I n the introduction to the book I have referred to three events as indications of a dramatic transformation of identity among the British-Bangladeshi population: the victory of George Galloway in parliamentary elections held in 2005, demonstrations in the East End against the filming of a book entitled Brick Lane, and the controversy over the visit of Bangladeshi Islamist leader Delwar Hossain Saidee in 2006. In this chapter I will explore these events in detail to illustrate the commonalities between them and their significance

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
Abstract only
Ali Riaz

Introduction 7 May 2010 marked a significant milestone in the history of the BritishBangladeshi community, as Rushanara Ali, the first politician of Bangladeshi descent, was elected to the British House of Commons by the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency of London. The results of the general elections, held on 6 May, began to be announced the previous evening, but British-Bangladeshis of London’s East End had to wait until the next morning because of the overwhelming number of votes cast. Although the Labour Party lost the general election, Labour candidate Ms

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
Abstract only
Ali Riaz

5 Beyond the present O ne point that emerges clearly from the preceding discussion on the identity politics of the British-Bangladeshis is the complexity of the subject. The tendency among ethnic minority Muslim immigrant communities in Europe towards identification with Islam as a marker of identity is discussed in an array of studies, but seldom have they explained coherently how the change took place. This study of the preference of the members of the British-Bangladeshi community for a religion-based identity vis-à-vis ethnicity-based identity is an

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
The state as actor
Ali Riaz

_Riaz_IslamIdentity_Revised.indd 141 21/02/2013 16:30 142 islam and identity among british-bangladeshis The merger between ‘domestic’ and ‘foreign’ in regard to the treatment of the minority Muslim community became more pronounced after 9/11 throughout the world, particularly in Western countries. Foreign policies can also bring about a perceptual shift within a community who can now link, whether correctly or not, the state’s approach toward the group at home and their country of origin. In such cases, the community leadership plays an important role in shaping the nature of identity politics

in Islam and identity politics among British-Bangladeshis
An Interview with Caroline Abu Sa’Da, General Director of SOS MEDITERRANEE Suisse
Juliano Fiori

’t necessarily join NGOs like MSF because they don’t have professional experience in humanitarian work. They specifically want to do something in Europe rather than going to Bangladesh or Syria or Iraq. It is really this idea of dealing with a European issue, in Europe, in a way that might bring about political change, without being embedded in a political party. This is a new type of political engagement and politics – different to that which inspired previous generations of humanitarian workers. SOS acknowledges the fact that dealing with migration today in

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs