Wednesday 2 September 2009

Young Muslims Speak Up

Sughra Ahmed discusses the findings of the Policy Research Centre’s 18 month study Seen and Not Heard: Voices of Young British Muslims in the Guardian today:

“Much may be written about young Muslims, but when you scratch away at the surface, it isn't usually the voices of young people themselves, but others speaking about them – or for them. And young Muslims know it all too well.

We are used to hearing about young Muslims in the context of radicalisation, but their lives are far more complex and in fact quite removed from debates around extremism. There is an untold story of intergenerational challenges, community leadership and alienation from institutions in wider society.

Self-identification for young Muslims is not just about negotiating the big mad world of politics, or even organised religion for that matter. There is a strong sense of localised identity in young adults, whose grandparents may have migrated, but who find themselves living rooted lives. Scottish participants were expressly Scottish and proud. But this was also partly connected to acceptance – a young Muslim Scot felt properly Scottish for the first time when confronted by football fans on a train and asked about supporting Scotland. He responded "Of course I do" and the questioner warmly responded, "I'll buy you a flag, because you're Scottish too."

These identities (note the plural) are in a sort of whirling negotiation, sometimes subconsciously, as they respond to discourses, experiences and pressures that seem to hound the complex lives of young people. The young people described their modern life as surrounded by communication gaps, particularly when it came to generational splits within their own communities Several young women spoke of having felt compelled to find out about Islam for themselves, but, in living out their new religious confidence, found the expectations of their parents' generation difficult terrain. Others, from both sexes, admitted to being faced with two starkly different lives – one life inside and one outside the home – as a way to negotiate the intergenerational challenges.”

You can read the entire article and people’s comments here

You can find out more about the Seen and Not Heard: Voices of Young British Muslims report here

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