In part one of this review of our Youth Survey, Khalil Charles takes a look at the comments and opinions of the participants on varying subjects.
In general, the comments ranged from optimism and the feeling that there is hope for the future to rather despondent comments that envisages that Muslims will to be forced to leave the country or renounce the religion of Islam.
Despair – Limiting freedom fears about Government Terror Laws
The survey revealed that Muslims felt negative about the encroaching new government laws, which seeks to widen the definition of extremism. Commenting before last month’s announcement by the Home Secretary, Teresa May of the heightened vigilance to combat the threat of terrorist plots, a number of participants predicted that a rise in Islamophobia under right wing orientated governments would mean that in two generations, Muslims would be forced out of the UK or made to recant their belief in Islam.
Many felt that the attacks by the media and the government was relentless and increasing and were uncertain that future generations would be safe from discrimination or attacks.
“Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiments and oppressive laws targeted only at Muslims are becoming more common each day and I fear for our future community, and for inter-community relations.”
Key organisations of concern mentioned included groups like Britain First and political parties such as UKIP. But there was also concern expressed about the reaction of Muslims in the UK that could lead to a polarisation of and a lack of integration between Muslims and the wider community.
“If a few more atrocities occur on British soil then public opinion could begin to shift quickly and then a permanent and unbridgeable gap could open up between the Muslim community and the rest, this does not necessarily mean civil unrest but could lead to a slow apartheid where people get on with their business with zero interaction with each other and the Muslims become a permanent underclass.”
That is echoed by those who felt that Muslims were being placed in a negative light and that Muslim youth are growing up in uncertain times; many felt under attack but felt that the Muslim community was too insular, isolated and disinterested in being truly British.
Hope: Positive change has happened Muslims need unity and united leadership
There was however, some who expressed optimism and called for unity and in particular a united leadership, Mohammed wrote:
“I am optimistic that we can make a positive change and contribute hugely and positively to the UK / EU society. However, a major social program is needed and most importantly, we need to unite under a single banner / leadership.”
It was also clear that the British Muslim community is a diverse one. Many identified the great concern that Muslims had for the affairs that were unfolding in their countries but felt that it was a distracting from the image of Muslims and this country and could explain the lack of unity that exists.
“We have a group of youth who are more educated and more integrated, and SOME scholars are more acquainted with the issues regarding Muslims and Muslim youth, yet a large contingent of the Muslim population is still living in Pakistan/Palestine/’back home’ (for lack of a better phrase)”
Others were enthusiasts about the financial and educational success the Muslims have attained despite the difficulties, which they felt would continue. They praise the great work of ‘dawah,’ which has increased the number of converts to Islam.
“It’s not all negative. There are some positives and reasons for hope. But there are concerns too. All in all uncertain best represents my view. It would have been (really) positive but concerned, especially with the way laws and politics have been played recently that threatens freedoms to specifically but indirectly the Muslims. However this only slightly cast a shadow over continuous success of the Muslim community in dawah.”
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Part 2: Takes a look in more details about the central issues facing Muslim’s today and the attitudes towards extremism and terror.