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“Love Jihad”, “Forced” Conversion Narratives, and Interfaith Marriage in the Sikh Diaspora

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JournalReligions
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2021
DatePublished (current) - 9 Dec 2021
Issue number1085
Volume12
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)1-15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper sets out to critically examine the “forced” conversion narrative circulating across the Sikh diaspora. The “forced” conversion narrative tells the story of Muslim men allegedly deceiving and tricking “vulnerable” Sikh females into Islam. The paper explores the parallels between the “forced” conversion narrative and the discourse on “love jihad” propagated by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as drawing out its particularities within the Sikh community. The paper is informed by new empirical data generated by a series of qualitative interviews with Sikhs in the UK, US, and Canada, and captures the complexities and nuances of my respondents in their interpretations of, and challenges to, the “forced” conversions narrative. The paper adopts a decolonial Sikh studies theoretical framework to critically unpack the logics of the discourse. In doing so, it reveals a wider politics at play, centred upon the regulation of Sikh female bodies, fears of the preservation of community, and wider anxieties around interfaith marriage. These aspects come together to display Sikh Islamophobia, whereby the figure of the “predatory” Muslim male is represented as an existential threat to Sikh being.

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© 2021 by the author.

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