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The Impact of 9/11 on Muslim American Young People

Forming National & Religious Identity in the Age of Terrorism and Islamophobia

June 7, 2007


Fostering effective engagement with Muslim youth in America requires understanding their priorities and aspirations on the one hand and potential causes for their dissent and disenfranchisement on the other. Much government and media attention has been paid to the phenomena of radicalization and extremism, but has left largely untouched the question of root causes and the importance of common definitions. There must be a clear distinction between the radicalization that leads to violent rebellion and the radical rhetoric commonly expressed on college campuses that represents dissent and disenfranchisement.

One key social goal is to include the many diverse experiences of Muslim life in America in public discourse on integration and ghettoization. The more narrow the orbit of acceptance is toward young Muslims who are traversing the various stages of adolescence toward becoming young professionals, the more likely we will begin to see serious cases of radicalization that can evolve into trends.

Published in 2007, this special report attempts to do two things: first, frame the issues related to the radicalization of Muslim youth in the West in a way that is consistent with realities on the ground and emphasizes the distinction between the American and European experiences; and second, provide a series of recommendations to Muslim American institutions, government and the media in their efforts to engage young Muslims in a healthy partnership of respect and equality with the goal of enhancing their integration and reducing the possibility for radicalization.

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