Look at pictures of real live white women wearing hijab!
All the exclamation marks in existence could not hide that these are the usual soundbites in a story that gets repeated more often then Home Alone at Christmastime. The problem with these statements being that not only do they erase the experiences of convert from other ethnicities, they also have a “A white person choosing to be Muslim, the horror!” undertone to them.
So while these statements are linked to the publication of a new study “A Minority within A Minority”, which claims to be the UK’s biggest study on converts to Islam, there is nothing new about The Independent‘s framing of it, which, while better than most, still chooses a picture of a white woman wearing hijab as the largest, most prominent image. (Note: I read the article in print form.)
The article talks briefly about the study finding that converts can feel isolated both from their communities of origin and the Muslim community, which is true, but not exactly news. However, there then comes the finger wagging about other religions being better towards converts: “While other major religions have established programmes for guiding new believers through the rigours of their faith, Islam still lacks any such network, especially outside the Muslim hubs of major cities,” to which one wonders, really? Certainly, other religions may have more structured pre-conversion/teaching programmes, but ultimately new converts are still reliant on community support. There also the fact of Islam not being a centralised network type of religion, despite the media thinking otherwise.
Also mentioned is converts finding more in common with other converts, yet while the study is described as Leicester-based, the article fails to mention that it was probably using the New Muslim Project ( a UK-wide convert organisation providing support and social activities for Muslims, which is based in Leicester) to seek respondents, so the sample group are going to be people who actively socialise with other converts anyway.