Young British Muslims: Identity, Culture, Politics and the Media

Young British Muslims: Identity, Culture, Politics and the Media

Young British Muslims: Identity, Culture, Politics and the Media

Young British Muslims: Identity, Culture, Politics and the Media


The 7/7 bombings that shook London created a new, highly politicized atmosphere, especially for Britain's young Muslim population. Young British Muslims constructs a portrait of contemporary British Muslim identity through social constructs such as migration, settlement, religion, culture, socioeconomic status, and wider social environments.

Nahid Afrose Kabir is a long-time researcher of young Muslim identity in Australia and the UK. For this book, she conducts ethnographic fieldwork with more than two hundred young Muslims from five British cities: London, Leicester, Bradford, Leeds, and Cardiff. Her careful analysis and revealing interviews offer insight into the hopes and aspirations of British Muslims, and her impeccable selection of testimony represents a remarkable range of ethnicities: Algerian, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iranian, Iraqi, Kenyan, Libyan, Mauritius, Moroccan, Pakistani, Palestinian, Somali, Sudanese, Syrian, Yemeni, and English and Scottish converts. Emphasizing the value of biculturalism, Kabir paints a realistic and hopeful vision of Muslims and their successful integration into British society.


There is an avalanche of books seeking to address and illuminate what many dub since 9/11, Madrid and 7/7, Europe’s ‘Muslim question’. However, the number of works which incorporate the views of young Muslims themselves so as to understand their hopes and fears, struggles and perplexities of growing up in contexts frequently suspicious of Islam and Muslims, can still be counted on one hand. Dr Kabir’s work adds significantly to our knowledge of how young British Muslims between 15 and 30 years old make sense of and manage their multiple identities – ethnic, religious, cultural and local.

The author brings to this task a number of key assets. She is an academic who has already published on Muslims in Australia, where she and her husband have lived for sixteen years. She is a Muslim herself, part of the educated Bangladeshi elite: she has lived in Pakistan for some years and speaks Urdu, as well as spending ten years in the Middle East. The book is thus enlivened by a comparative perspective and rooted in a deep knowledge of the Muslim world. She also has a real desire to enable Muslim minorities and wider society to discover ways of living together that draws on the best in all communities.

Another valuable feature of this study is that its in- depth interviews with more than 200 young people are drawn from five major cities: Bradford, Cardiff, Leeds, Leicester and London. While a majority of respondents have roots in the South Asian communities, other more marginalised voices such as Yemeni and Somali are also audible. Another welcome feature of the work is the space given to the perspectives of young women.

The study is structured to elicit their views about a number of key issues, including whether and to what extent they share a sense of ‘Britishness’; what they think of the media coverage of their communities; and their responses to the furore generated by comments made by Jack Straw, MP for Blackburn . . .

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