If we asked young British Muslims what they think about extremism, we might actually be able to tackle the issue

britishmuslimyouthJust this week we saw another young British Muslim, 22-year-old Salman Abedi disgracefully murdering young children, those of whom were his own peers, in an arena in Manchester.

This is not the first time that young people have turned to violence and terrorism. Whether it has been 17-year old Talha Asmal in Dewsbury or the young girls from Bethnal Green who, unbeknown to their parents and peers, concocted a plan to join Isis in Syria. It has all been seen before: “loving, kind, caring” teenagers who all of a sudden become murderers and members of a death cult. Young people that, in the end, vowed to evil methods to express their grievances.

Yet, how many ordinary young British Muslims have we consulted about this issue? Have their voices really been heard on this issue that primarily affects them? Of course, many of those groomed by radicalisation have accepted an ideological pathway that pits themselves against the rest, no matter how inhumane it might be. But could Salman Abedi’s Libyan heritage have been a grievance, caused by a failed British intervention destroying Libya and leaving a power vacuum filled by extremists, as claimed by one of his friends on Radio 4? Could an open dialogue have prevented such a drastic conversion?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT 

 

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Members of Manchester’s Muslim community among those most strongly condemning deadly bombing

la-fg-britain-muslim-manchester-20170523Greater Manchester police ran a mock anti-terrorist operation a year ago featuring a bomber shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar,” or God is great.

Eight hundred volunteers took part in the overnight drill at a huge shopping center on the outskirts of the city to make it as realistic as possible and prepare the city’s emergency services for an attack.

But the day after the practice drill, authorities apologized to the city’s Muslim community and admitted they had been guilty of stereotyping.

After Monday night’s suicide bombing, many Manchester residents praised police, fire and ambulance workers for their rapid response. The 22-year-old suspect in the suicide bombing, for which the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility, was described as an English-born son of Libyan immigrants.

Muslim leaders were among those who were quick to condemn the attack, which killed 22 people and wounded dozens, and declare that the city would not be divided.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of Ramadhan Foundation in Manchester, said in a statement that the deadly explosion after an Ariana Grande concert was the “darkest day” in the city’s history.

Shafiq said the people of Manchester would not be divided and would instead “mourn, remember the victims and get on with our lives.”

“I love Manchester and its people — we are a resolute people and will not be divided by these barbaric animals or cowered by their violence,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

The battle for the soul of British Islam

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Fresh arrivals to any country feel blind and weakened: they seek jobs, housing and familiarity. Newcomers yearn for memories of their old nation state – Italian olive oil, south Indian dosas or Turkish kanafeh. Laws that appear foreign, and values that were never particularly strong at home, are slowly adopted through experience and navigation. Faith provides a shelter from tumultuous change.

In recent years, in no regard has the narrative about immigration and values proved more volcanic than in addressing the role of Muslims. Three new books attempt to cast a light on modern Islam’s contract with the West. Letters to a Young Muslim is a collection of missives written by the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Russia to his elder son, Saif, now aged 16. The author, Omar Saif Ghobash, was six years old when his own father, the UAE’s first foreign minister, was shot and killed by a teenage Palestinian assassin at Abu Dhabi International Airport in 1977. The intended target was the Syrian president Hafez al-Assad’s foreign minister, who was visiting the UAE; the 19-year-old gunman was later executed.

Ghobash’s book is part memoir and part instructional guide to the liberal values he would like to see flourish in conservative Islamic societies. He gives special prominence to educated imams, higher education and a greater tolerance of antithetical views. In the 40th-anniversary year of his father’s death, Letters to a Young Muslim is also a synthesis of grief and purpose. As he writes, “For me . . . it has been impossible to leave my father behind. I have carried his memory with me through the years, always imagining what he might have said to me, or done in my place.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW STATESMAN 

Islam’s ability to empower is a magnet to black British youths

Muslims pray at the Central London mosqueA seminar was hosted last month by Christians Together in England to consider ways to “stem the flight of black British youths to Islam and radicalisation”. In an unprecedented move, Muslims were invited to attend – and they did. Together, both faith groups discussed the reasons why a growing number of young black people are choosing Islam in preference to Christianity. According to this morning’s BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, one in nine black Christian men are converting to Islam.

Following in my father’s footsteps, I was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended Sunday mass regularly as a child. I also attended a Roman Catholic secondary school – initially a cultural shock as I found myself the only black student among a predominantly white class. The religious focus of the school was, however, a refreshing contrast to my urban, street background. Teachers and students were more serious about God than at my previous schools. A student was not considered “nerdy” or “odd” due to their religiosity. I was therefore able to excel in religious studies and was successful in my final O-level exam.

During these lessons, the more we learned about religion, the more we questioned and challenged particular concepts, particularly relating to Christianity. Questions about the concept of the trinity – the Godhead being three in one – caused many debates as some of us; myself and others did not find this logical or feasible. Our religious studies teacher became exasperated by persistent questions on this topic, and arranged for the local priest to attend and address the question. His explanations did little to remove our doubts in this very fundamental and important area of faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN