Islamophobia on the move: circulation of anti-Muslim prejudice between Poland and the UK

Gawlewicz, Anna and Narkowicz, Kasia (2015). Islamophobia on the move: circulation of anti-Muslim prejudice between Poland and the UK. In: Muslims in the UK and Europe (Suleiman, Yasir ed.), Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, pp. 90–100.


As Muslims have become a target group for religious and racist prejudice both in the UK and in other parts of Europe in recent years, so studies of anti-Muslim attitudes have increased. Yet part of Europe is often omitted in academic discussions on Islamophobia, that is Central and Eastern Europe with its long and rich Islamic history. In response this paper explores negative attitudes towards Muslims in Poland and among Polish migrants to the UK. It simultaneously focuses on Poland and the UK and on the spaces between both societies where circulation of ideas takes place. As such, it maps the transnational mobility of anti-Muslim prejudice and draws attention to the complex ways in which attitudes towards Muslim people are shaped and reproduced through international mobility. The paper firstly shows that upon migrating to the UK many Poles have increased contact with Muslim people and find themselves in the midst of already-established attitudes towards Muslim groups. The consequence of this is development, revision or change of attitudes towards Muslims. Secondly, the paper demonstrates that the newly developed or acquired (and frequently prejudice-loaded) discourses are likely to travel back to Poland together with migrant stories. This has the potential to strengthen negative attitudes towards Islam among people in Poland. The paper draws upon findings from two separate PhD projects employing qualitative methodologies to study migrant attitudes towards difference and religious tensions in Poland respectively.

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