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Islamophobia and Counterterrorism in the UK with Rizwaan Sabir and Tarek Younis (discussant Arun Kundnani)

Venue: Online



Speaker: Rizwaan Sabir

Counterterrorism in the UK: The Policing of Muslims in the name of fighting armed Muslim Groups

In this session, Rizwaan Sabir will critically map the connections between counterinsurgency warfare and the domestic ‘war on terror’ being fought in the United Kingdom through policing, counterterrorism, and counter-extremism policy, law, and practice. The session will draw upon Sabir’s recently published book ‘The Suspect’ which employs counterinsurgency warfare theory and doctrine to conceptualize and frame his experience of being arrested and detained by UK authorities on suspicion of terrorism for possessing a document he downloaded from the US Department of Justice website for his research on armed Muslim groups, and years of subsequent surveillance and state interest he was subjected to on his release (without charge) from custody.

Sabir will outline how and why the employment of counterinsurgency approaches to the policing of terrorism are fundamentally concerned with pre-emptively neutralizing threats before they manifest into violence and how such an approach de-politicizes and de-historicizes armed Muslim struggle (and political Islam more broadly). He will also examine how this pre-emptive approach to counterterrorism constructs armed Muslim struggle as a ‘new’ form of terrorism, and how such a reading signifies Muslims as dangerous and risky; making securitization, coercion, and conflict the logical outcome of counterterrorism policy. The lecture concludes with some suggestions around how a human-rights orientated approach that centers and recognizes the role of socio-economics and notably politics is critical to understanding and addressing the issue of terrorism and counterterrorism in the UK (and the west more broadly), and how communities of struggle can contest, challenge, and resist securitization and counterterrorism policy and practice.

Bio: Dr Rizwaan Sabir is an Assistant Professor in Criminology at the School of Justice Studies at Liverpool John Moores University (UK), and author of the book ‘The Suspect: Counterterrorism, Islam, and the Security State’ (Pluto, 2022). In addition to providing analysis and commentary in the written and broadcast media for the Guardian, Al-Jazeera, TRT World, and the BBC, he briefs lawyers, community groups, and policy makers at the UK Parliament, United Nations, and the Council of Europe. He can be contacted via email or followed on Twitter at the following handle: @RizwaanSabir


Speaker: Tarek Younis

The Muslim, State and Mind: The Psychologisation of Counter-Extremism

Mental health is positioned as the cure-all for society’s discontents, from pandemics to terrorism. But psychology and psychiatry are not apolitical, and neither are Muslims. In this session, Tarek Younis unpacks where the politics of the psy-disciplines and the politics of Muslims overlaps, demonstrating how psychological theories and practices serve State interests and perpetuate inequality—especially racism and Islamophobia. Viewing the psy-disciplines from the margins, Younis will draw upon his forthcoming book to illustrate how these necessarily serve the State in the production of loyal, low-risk and productive citizens, offering a modern discussion of three paradigms underlying the psy-disciplines: neoliberalism, security and the politics of mental health.

Bio: Dr Tarek Younis is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Middlesex University. He researches and writes on Islamophobia, racism in mental health, the securitisation of clinical settings and the politics of psychology. He teaches on the impact of culture, religion, globalisation, and security policies on mental health. As a registered clinical psychologist, he primarily attends to experiences of racism, Islamophobia, and state violence in his private practice. His book is called The Muslim, State and Mind: Psychology in Times of Islamophobia.


Discussant: Arun Kundnani

Kundnani writes about racial capitalism and Islamophobia, surveillance and political violence, and Black radical movements. He is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror (Verso, 2014) and The End of Tolerance: racism in 21st century Britain (Pluto, 2007), which was selected as a New Statesman book of the year. He has written for the Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Vice, and The Intercept. Born in London, he moved to New York in 2010. A former editor of the journal Race & Class, he was miseducated at Cambridge University, and holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University. He has been an Open Society fellow and a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

Race and Justice Series

This event is part of the Department of Criminology’s Race and Justice Series and is supported by the by the British Society of Criminology's Race Matters Network. For further information, please contact the event organiser and Race Matters Network coordinator Dr Monish Bhatia (

This event is open to the public and free to attend however booking is required via this page. The event will be hosted on MS Teams, a free to access website. You will be sent a link to access the event on the day.

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