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Giving moderate Muslims a voice

In the fight against Islamist radicalisation, research into what young British Muslims think and feel has provided valuable insight to the UK Government.

Based on in-depth interviews with more than 30 self-identified and practising young Muslims from across the country, Dr Anshuman Mondal's work was a qualitative investigation of attitudes to politics, belief, cultural integration and relationships with peers and parents.

His results challenged the idea that there is a cultural conflict between British ‘norms and values’ and Islamic ones. Rather, for these young Muslims, the principal cultural conflict was with the cultural and religious norms of their elders. Their understandings of Islam emphasized individuality and choice.

The study undermined the stereotypes of dogmatism, intolerance and extremism associated with young Muslims. Interviewees emphasized plurality – there are many ways of being a Muslim – flexibility and pragmatism in approaching their religion.

These young British Muslims did not feel culturally alienated from Britain. They felt very strongly British, were committed to living in a multi-faith, multicultural society, and had deep roots in their local communities. They did, however, feel marginalized and excluded by racism and Islamophobia.

Policy makers from The Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Department of Children, Schools and Families and counter-extremism agency PREVENT have all drawn extensively on the research in formulating tools and techniques to help young people resist the temptations of fundamentalism.