Sport, Muslim identities and cultures in the UK, an emerging policy issue: case studies of Leicester and Birmingham

2014-08-07T12:08:05Z (GMT) by Mahfoud Amara Ian Henry
An understanding of diversity and its implications for policy is critical to those charged with delivering sporting services in culturally plural societies. This paper reports a research project which aimed to examine how, on the one hand, Muslims in two specific local contexts in the UK (Leicester in the East Midlands; Birmingham in the West Midlands) make sense of the relationship between their religious (Islamic) identities and sporting interests and, on the other, how local policy makers perceived and responded to the sporting needs of these Muslim communities. According to the 2001 census, Leicester and Birmingham represent, respectively, one of the most ethnically diverse areas in Britain and the domicile for one-third of the Muslim population in Britain. Interviews were undertaken with representatives of Muslim organizations, governmental and quasi-governmental sporting organizations, in both cities. Critical Discourse Analysis of interviewees’ responses reveal pluralistic views on a range of issues such as: the ‘‘(un)suitability’’ of the environment/space provided for, or accessed by, Muslims to practise sport; funding; gender equity; equity and social inclusion agenda versus cultural and religious diversities; and a resistance (on the part of policy makers) to target provision at faith groups.