The funeral of Asians or Muslims: Contestation over representation of community and perceptions about state during 2011 riots in Birmingham
“If any act of terrorism happens, the government labels us as Muslims, but when some of us are killed during riots, they call us Asians. This is how government plays with us. They still have same old policy for us; divide and rule” said Ali, a young British-Pakistani Muslim social activist, in his speech, on a public vigil in Birmingham after three young men of Asian-Muslims background were killed as riots spread across major big cities in England during August 2011. Birmingham witnessed the death of three Asian-Muslim men when the copycat of London riots started in the city. The three men were killed when a car overrun them during the night of riots while they were standing on the road in a neighbourhood of Birmingham where mixed communities live together. Mainstream and local British media presented the death as ‘killing of young Asian men’ by the looters and rioters who were portrayed on mainstream and social media as people belonging to Afro-Caribbean background. The killing of three men, community responses, timing of releasing their dead bodies by police and over all media representation of the events that occurred during and after the riots in Birmingham in August 2011 triggered an intense political debate, social activism and a politics of representation among and between various Muslims and non-Muslim South Asian groups and associations over the issue of race relations, identity, state cooption of events and community cohesiveness. This paper is going to explore how various social, political and religious groups of South Asian communities in Birmingham responded, interpreted and reinterpreted the riots killings by constructing and reconstructing their perceptions and understandings about the state, self and others, religion, community and race relations.
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