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Zümrüt Gülbay&Ms. Nas © US Mission Brussels

11. Oktober 2007Young, Muslim – European?

A column from Edit Schlaffer in the Austrian weekly newspaper Die Furche, Oct.11th 2007

Social tensions and security fears regarding Muslim populations dominate domestic political topics throughout Europe. How do European Muslims live and think? Where are they from? How do they define themselves in regards to tradition, religion and modernity? What do we know about the young Muslim generation in Europe? Do they feel as threatened by extremists and suicide bombers as we do?
Young Muslims are the hope for a new European-Muslim civil society. What is obvious is that young Muslims in Europe are put under great pressure. They are caught between Western individualism and Islamic tradition and frequently find themselves in an identity vacuum. Muslim women are constantly in the spotlight, whether they wear a head scarf, a veil, or a miniskirt. Male Muslims are often eyed with scepticism and unease, and are seen as walking time bombs. This treatment can lead to withdrawal and isolation, making them susceptible to online radical opportunists. The feeling of young Muslims that they lack a foothold in society and that their voices go unheard are driving forces behind withdrawal and in extreme cases bring them to live in parallel communities. If young Muslims find themselves unable to establish their place in society and are not supported in their efforts to do so, then they become vulnerable to fundamentalist groups. An analytical look behind the scenes at the aspirations desires and set backs of the young Muslim generation is beneficial in two ways: for interpersonal relations and strategic security.

Edit Schlaffer writes a column once a month in the Austrian weekly newspater Die Furche.


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