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More Than “Multiple Jeopardy”: Navigating the Legal System as a British-Muslim-Woman-Litigant-in-Person

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
Author:
Suriyah Bi Yale University

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Abstract

Against the backdrop of rising Islamophobia and a deficit in the literature of Muslim experiences of resistance to discrimination through the legal action, in this article, I employ an auto-ethnographic methodological approach to critically reflect on my journey from classroom to courtroom, as a British Muslim woman of colour and litigant-in-person. While threading in excerpts of legal documents from the case, I highlight that: (a) as Muslims we must resist in ways acceptable to gate-keepers of the law, who are largely white and middle-class and unaware of the embodied realities of the inequality that minorities in Britain experience; (b) the law fails to take account of the “context” in which discrimination(s) takes place, as a result of which legal logic(s) and methodologies in cases of religious discrimination are flawed; (c) a religio-social capital operates against Muslims, negating positive social capital(s) such as education, and which, in the social penalties Muslims experience, accumulates greater weight than other intersecting subjectivity markers such as race, class, ethnicity, and gender. I contrast King’s theory of “multiple jeopardy” with my embodied experience of discrimination and inequality, which I demonstrate using the model of the glass Rubik’s cube.

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