Report: Voices of Young Muslims

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Our report, Voices of Young Muslims: Building a Society free of Islamophobia captures an important moment in the story of Muslims in Britain today. It is a story of discrimination, fear, identity and above all – resilience.

As part of Jawaab’s leadership training initiatives, we trained a group of volunteer researchers who went back into their communities to collect the stories we are sharing in this report. Our
research set out to explore questions about our place in society as Muslims – and as young people part of the next generation who will take Britain forward.

What did we find?

Our report presents a thematic analysis of qualitative data. This means we structured our report around common themes that emerged from our case studies and interviews. These include: Islamophobia, Muslim Women, Young Muslim Identity and Muslim Generational Changes.

Islamophobia is multi-layered, operating at several levels of society. It manifests indirectly through negative stereotyping and attitudes expressed towards Muslims. However, Islamophobia
also operates across British institutions. Formally recognising Islamophobia will help to provide security to a beleaguered and targeted Muslim community.

Muslim Women: Visibly Muslim women still struggle to find acceptance in society. Many Muslim women are actively changing their style to appear ‘less Muslim’ to avoid Islamophobia. Two of our female interviewees felt they needed to take off their headscarves altogether.

Young Muslim Identity: Muslim identities are complex, and young Muslims have multiple locations of belonging. ‘British Muslim’ discourse homogenises the diversity of Muslim identities. We are concerned that processes of racialisation will result in a new type of Muslim: one that is readily identifiable, easily governed, yet, unprotected against Islamophobia.

Muslim Generational Changes: Young Muslims perceive themselves as more willing to challenge Islamophobia and racism compared to their elders. Their ability to challenge discrimination is rooted in a sense that Britain is their home compared to their elders, who felt more insecure about their position in society.

We also found:

  • 61% reported personal experiences of Islamophobia or knew someone who had experienced it.
  • 60% of our participants reported feeling pressure to hide or downplay their Muslim identities. Mostly at work or at airports.
  • 43% of our participants reported feeling conflicted in their identities. Acts of Muslim-perpetrated violence, wanting to fit in, feeling unwanted, and evolving relationships with Islam were the main sources of conflict.
  • 55% said they identified at least partially as British.
  • 19% said they did not feel part of any British identity.

Read the full report here