MPAC Releases Special Report on Muslim American Youth

Washington, DC: Muslim American youth must be engaged directly rather than being discussed in a vacuum, Muslim Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati said June 7 during a forum in Washington, DC to announce the findings of a special report on Muslim American youth and identity formation post-9/11.
Entitled "The Impact of 9/11 on Muslim American Young People: Forming National and Religious Identity in the Age of Terrorism and Islamophobia", the special report provides analysis of key issues of identity, social and political alienation, the definition of moderate, and Islamophobia as root causes of radicalization. It also provides specific recommendations to government officials, media professionals and universities to bolster integration and prevent radicalization of Muslim American youth.
"The report is the first substantive Muslim American policy position paper addressing radicalization in an effort to prevent this phenomenon from taking root on US soil," MPAC Government Director Relations Director Safiya Ghori said.
Click here to download a pdf file of "The Impact of 9/11 on Muslim American Young People".
Interfaith Alliance Vice President Suzie Armstrong cited the need for dialogue as a tool to change people's thinking from viewing our nation as being rooted in multiculturalism to pluralism. She cited a passage from the paper, which notes that multiculturalism assumes that a majority population is "making room" for minority communities, while a pluralistic paradigm inherently holds different segments as being equal parts of a larger whole.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) shared the following statement about the paper:
"We share an interest in tapping into the enormous potential of the American Muslim community, and working with that community to better understand the challenges we are confronting around the world. I look forward to reading the report you are issuing today and hope that it will provide valuable insights into the steps that we need to take to rid our world of radicalization and extremism. I strongly believe that the American Muslim community is a big part of the solution, and that engaging Muslim youth in our nation in this effort is most vital. By sharing insights and strengthening voices of tolerance, we can find common ground in our own communities and strengthen efforts to protect our country from the threats we face at home and abroad. Congratulations again on your work."
Al-Marayati cited three major problems faced when tackling the question of Muslim American youth, as described in the report: 1) the failure of public officials and media commentators to talk to youth, preferring instead to talk about them, 2) the failure to distinguish between anti-establishment ideologies and criminal intent when considering rhetoric on college campuses, and 3) the failure to engage with Muslim Americans at all levels of decision making and to publicize that relationship to the Muslim community and the American public at large.
"If the ground is rotten, then radical violent ideologies can seep in more easily. If the ground is healthy, then a vibrant and robust sense of self can take hold and mature," Al-Marayati said. "As they find themselves wedged between daily reports of terrorism and extremism on the one hand and Islamophobia and intolerance on the other, Muslim American youth's individual and collective identity evolves continuously. We in the public and private sectors share an obligation to ensure that fertile soil exists where young Muslim Americans can grow up feeling accepted and productive."
Major recommendations outlined in the report include:
• Develop a support infrastructure for Muslim students in US college campuses, including an institutionally supported Muslim religious advisor funded, staffed and certified by the university to ensure the applicability of the chaplain's contributions are germaine to each campus.
• Create a US government inter-agency Muslim American Youth Advisory Board of student leaders and young professionals.
• Publicize the engagement with Muslim American community leaders to assure the American public of the close partnership between the Muslim American community and its governmental partners.
• Deter Islamophobia in the media through seminars for anchors and producers to be introduced to authentic approaches to conversations about extremism and violence among Muslims to better engage an Muslim American perspective, and introduce broad scale ad campaigns showing the value of diversity and pluralism).
Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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