Suspect Community or Suspect Category? The Impact of Counter-Terrorism as ‘Policed Multiculturalism’
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2016
Posted: 26 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 6, 2016
How to think about the impact of counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation on ethnic and religious accommodation? Much of the literature draws on the concept of ‘suspect community,’ suggesting it has primarily alienated the Muslim community, favouring an assimilationist model of ‘muscular liberalism.’ In this article, while I consider the merits of the ‘suspect community’ hypothesis, I argue that it only partially accounts for the effects of counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation on multicultural societies. I contend that much of the literature has focused too narrowly on the discriminatory effects of counter-terrorist policies and has been unable to grasp the more insidious political effects of counter-terrorism policies based on the active participation and involvement of Muslims in their own policing. The main hypothesis of this paper is that rather than promoting ‘assimilation,’ as the government would expect, or alienation, as the advocates of the ‘suspect community’ hypothesis would contend, counter-terrorist policies produce and reinforce a government of society in discrete and divided ethno-religious groups. Such ‘policed multiculturalism’ — understood as the recognition and the management of diversity through a security perspective — has an important consequence in that it removes fundamental questions about pluralism from political debate, casting them instead in a depoliticised language of security.
Keywords: Suspect community, multiculturalism, assimilation, counter-terrorism, counter-radicalisation
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