British Muslims are citizens of the United Kingdom and also part of a worldwide community, the Umma, the Muslim community of the faithful. British Muslims have both national and transnational allegiances and on the part of the British state this has necessitated new ways of governing its Muslim citizens. Concerns over both terrorist violence and societal security questions regarding Muslims in the UK are both internal and external to the state. The government has had difficulties in finding transnational policy responses that go beyond the old division of internal and external security. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, security was the main reason why the British state sought to engage Muslims, but this has been transformed into the wider agenda of ‘community cohesion’. In tracing the Muslim groups that the government has engaged with since 2001, I show how the issue of governing Muslims has gone beyond concerns just about terrorism and violence to a wider agenda that accepts British Muslims as citizens, yet at the same time still reflects the fears of Muslim ‘otherness’. I consider how this otherness is seen as a threat to societal security, and how the government’s attempt to create policies to deal with such threats is best understood as the ‘politics of unease’.
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