Sovereignty, security and muscular liberalism : debating 'Sharia courts' in Britain
Cultural and religious diversity
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AbstractThe working paper considers the political rhetoric of ‘muscular liberalism’. Following David Cameron, ‘muscular liberalism’ is understood as a paradigm of assertive policy-making in lieu of ‘state multiculturalism’. While this orientation has achieved some prominence, its origins as well as its political effects have not been convincingly explored. A ‘stimulus-response model’, which points towards the Muslim presence in European states as the trigger for the muscular stance, fails to capture the phenomenon. It is furthermore unclear in what relevant sense the requirements that muscular rhetoric levels towards Muslims can be said to qualify as ‘liberal’ or how the reference to tensions within the ‘liberal tradition’ would illuminate the muscular position. The purpose of the paper, then, is to work towards a definition that allows considering political functions and situational potentials, in particular the projection of a desired muscular identity. It draws on the mobilization against ‘Sharia Courts’ in the UK, and the attempt to curtail their operation with the Arbitration and Mediation (Equality) Services Bill, to clarify such potentials.