British Muslims take part in new study
MANY young British Muslims feel demonised by the police and the media and say they have come under pressure to prove their loyalty since the September 11 attacks and the 2005 London bombings, a study has found.
The report, ‘Seen and Not Heard: Voices of Young British Muslims’, for the Policy Research Center, an Islamic think tank, was intended to give young Muslims their own voice to counter assumptions made by outsiders.
Muslims aged 16 to 25 took part in nine focus groups in England, Scotland and Wales.
The report said young Muslims had been portrayed in the media as a threat to society and often struggled to convince people that they can be both British and Muslim at the same time.
Public debate over immigration, nationalism and integration has left them feeling under attack, while Britain’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan has only increased the pressure. “As well as facing questions and challenges to their loyalty, young Muslims … are being pressed to define their identity in light of national and international events,” the report said.
Young Muslims are too often asked to prove that their religion is peaceful and they are law-abiding, the report said. “This is especially damaging when myths and stereotypes surmount accurate information, resulting in young British Muslims being portrayed as a threat to the wellbeing of the wider British communities,” it said.
Despite attempts by police chiefs to engage with the Muslim community, the report found many young British Muslims did not trust the police and felt harassed. The report blamed a dramatic rise in Muslims being stopped and searched in the street after the July 2005 suicide bombings, which killed 52 people in London.
Sughra Ahmed, author of the report said: “We are used to hearing about young Muslims in the context of radicalisation of Muslim opinion, but their lives are far more complex. They feel a strong sense of patriotism, but also feel let down by voices that do not do justice to their aspirations. Young people are comfortable negotiating their multiple identities, but some also feel a sense of disconnection from older generations as well as pressure from a society that increasingly stereotypes young people.”
The report can be read at www.policyresearch.org.uk