The idea that racism and bigotry is solely a ‘working-class problem’, a problem of the ‘uneducated masses’, is one that I’ve never quite bought into. It’s not the working classes who own our newspapers, or run the criminal justice system, or dominate our politics—areas in which we see so much prejudice and bigotry aimed towards minority groups.
If you’re a British Muslim like me, you’re no stranger to Islamophobia passing the ‘dinner table test’ or seeing it become the ‘acceptable prejudice’. What’s helped normalise Islamophobia and make it a more palatable form of bigotry? Those at the top.
This is not, of course, to say that Islamophobia and prejudice against Muslims isn’t to be found among sections of working-class communities. But the idea that the ‘better educated chattering classes’ or those from middle- and upper-class backgrounds are more understanding of British Muslims simply by virtue of their privilege and wealth just isn’t borne out by the evidence.