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Religions 2013, 4(4), 502-528; doi:10.3390/rel4040502
Article

Minority Political Representation: Muslim Councilors in Newham and Hackney

1
 and
2,*
Received: 24 June 2013 / Revised: 21 October 2013 / Accepted: 23 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Islam, Immigration, and Identity)
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Abstract

Scholars have long been intrigued by the role of minority elected officials in representing the interests of their communities. There is an on-going debate on whether distinctive minority agendas exist and whether the existence of minority representatives (descriptive representation) is a necessary condition to secure the representation of minority interests (substantive representation). This article analyzes original interview data to examine these issues through a case study of Muslim city councilors and the dynamics of local government in the Newham and Hackney Borough Councils of London. It finds that the exceptionally high ethnic diversity of Newham with no dominant ethnic group, the lack of racial or religious divides among neighborhoods, and low racial tensions shapes the political culture of the Council, as well as the Muslim councilors, and yields high responsiveness for all minorities. It also finds that non-Muslim councilors play a significant role in the substantive representation of minority interests, including Muslim interests. In contrast, the case study of the Hackney Council reveals that beyond high party fragmentation, ethnicity and religiosity of the Muslim councilors vary widely and hinder effective representation. In addition, their political incorporation is low, and the leadership positions they hold seem to have symbolic rather than substantive impact. The political behavior and representative styles of Muslim councilors reveal a balancing perspective, whereby they advocate for group interests with a more moderate tone. These factors account for the low government responsiveness to Muslim interests in Hackney.
Keywords: minority representation; Muslims in the UK; local political representation minority representation; Muslims in the UK; local political representation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Tatari, E.; Yükleyen, A. Minority Political Representation: Muslim Councilors in Newham and Hackney. Religions 2013, 4, 502-528.

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