Seen But Not Heard
I September 2014
Voices of Young British Muslims
Since 9/11, and to some degree the Rushdie affairs the debates about muslim youth having centred around loyalty, belonging and citizenship. But young muslims are finding their feet in the world around them and they are throttled with perceived ideas by both the media and society at large. The muslim youth are living in unprecedented times. The new social media transports news to our phones instantly. The actions of other muslim youth across the world pushes pressure on the muslim youth in the UK to justify that Islam is a peaceful religion and that they are law abiding British citizens. This is even worse when the stereotypes and myths are supported by actual international events. Then this results in the muslim youth being perceived as threat to the larger community. Then they link the historical experiences of other European muslims. Young Muslims hear about Bosnians who had integrated into their societies. They shared the same colour, they shared close friendship circles only then to be rejected by the wider society. This confuses the youth further as Islam teaches about allegiance to the state. Many muslim youth find it confusing as to why their allegiance
to the state is questioned, especially as Islam advocates allegiance to the government of the land. There aware and recognise that they need to follow the laws of the land in order to be a good muslim but the media doesn’t seem to be helping in their journey to be good. The media is complicating matters. They attach labels to the muslim youth. They are not considering the youth to be British often treating them as foreign within their borders. This confuses the muslim youth about their identity. The portraying of the muslim communities as “distinctly-different” and “alien” is not helping them integrate especially when they are disturbed by recent Israeli actions in Gaza which only endorses the view that the west is anti-islam. Muslim youth are politically more literate because recent events have made them more aware. However, the system is unwilling to listen to them and continues to sterotype them. This is adding to the tensions and making matters worse in their country as they feel the state is not listening to their views and communities are not collectively organised to boycott support of parties and companies.
As a result of the media confusion, the muslim youth are disturbed about identity and citizenship. Young muslim youth are receiving mixed messages. Realising the support is not there by the state the muslim youth are reviewing their identity. As we drive north of the country up to Scotland, some youth are returning to the traditional ways where respect for parents and the belief that by pleasing them results in having a successful marriage. The muslim youth in these parts of the country have seen such traditional marriages work and they are comparing how they have seen a generation before them waiting longer than the traditional norm in finding a suitable partner and consequently settling down much later. However, this is in stark contrast to the views of the muslim female youth in Tower Hamlet, London where the youth will be ‘economical about the truth’ with their parents about where they go, activities they pursue, parties they attend and restaurants they visit with the opposite gender. When the subject of marriage does come, they try anything in the book to dissuade their parents and it works. In previous years what is even more frightening is that in London Brixton area, the amount of space that Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada from the media had contributed to the radicalisation amongst the muslim youth especially in prisons. There needs to be a frank open discussion with the muslim youth on: The Muslim Youth Helpline support the muslim youth on these contemporary matters but inevitably every community has to provide accessible personalised services to meet the needs of the muslim youth. It calls for our madressah’s to alter their role of they are going to curb the current trends.
Passion Islam Magazine September 2014 issue,