Sport and muslims or muslims in sport, post-9/11

Authored by: Mahfoud Amara

Routledge Handbook of Sport, Race and Ethnicity

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138816954
eBook ISBN: 9781315745886
Adobe ISBN: 9781317596677


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The question of Islam and Muslims in Europe and in the West took a drastic turn after the 9/11 attack in Manhattan, and the 7/7 bombings which occurred the day after London had won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. Muslims are being put under more scrutiny by states’ security apparatus, the media, and the mushrooming research centres specialized in the study of ‘Islamism’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘radicalism’. The tension provoked by these two events and other terrorist attacks in Europe, followed by the important US-led military operations in the Middle East, has had repercussions for different domains, including sport. Muslim visibility (or over visibility for some) whether in relation to the question of the veil (hijab) in sport, the expression of Islamic faith in sport (e.g. fasting during sport competitions) or in relation to sport marketing, such as the case of Qatari investment in the international sport market, is increasingly contested today on ideological bases. It is even equated, particularly within right and far-right movements, as another (soft) strategy for the ‘Islamization’ of Europe in particular, and the West in general. The chapter, informed by a few years of observation of media portrayal of Muslims in sport post-9/11, is organized around the following three aspects: hijab and the ‘Islamization’ of sport; Arab-Muslim investment in sport as a means for ‘soft power’; and sport and the question of integration of Muslims as a challenge to citizenship and national identity debates.

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