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Who is a ‘Salafi’? Salafism and the Politics of Labelling in the UK

In: Journal of Muslims in Europe
Author:
Iman Dawood London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) London United Kingdom

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Abstract

In this article, I trace the history of the label ‘Salafi’ in the UK to show that there has been a marked change in its desirability and use within some ‘Salafi’ circles. Drawing on interviews conducted with members of various streams of the Salafi movement as well as content analysis of the websites, social media pages and audio-visual content of ‘Salafi’ groups, I argue that while the oftentimes unqualified association between Salafism and terrorism in public discourse may have had a negative impact on the label’s desirability, intra-Salafi politics shed more light on why some ‘Salafis’ adopt the label while others do not.

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