Title: The Young Muslim Dilemma: To bomb or not bomb? Is that the question?

By Bilal Hassam, April 2010, (UK) Abstract: The title provocatively suggests that young Muslims find themselves in a dilemma. That they are especially vulnerable to be recruited into terrorist networks and that somewhere along the line they make a choice as to whether or not to engage in acts of violent extremism. Such a sentiment raises many questions. How and perhaps more importantly, why would young Muslims find such avenues appealing? Do they have concerns, and are they legitimate? How does a seemingly ‘normal’ person find themselves exposed and potentially vulnerable to extremist thinking? How can we prevent this from happening? Various attempts have been made to answer such questions. However the purpose of this paper is to step back and question the very framework of the question itself; understanding how the current climate has shaped the way a generation of young people are perceived and engaged with by wider society. This paper investigates the entire notion of this alleged dilemma: ‘To bomb or not to bomb?’ Four considerations have been examined: • The Question Consider the origins and assumptions of the question itself. Do we need to answer it? • The Questioned A look at young British Muslims and beyond; explore issues of culture, identity and demographics. • The Questioner Who is asking such questions, who is the ‘other’? Explore how these ‘others’ are perceived? • The Questioning Critically consider the methodology of engagement; how has this issue been tackled and are we promoting models of genuine mutual understanding? After exploring these four considerations, this paper goes onto to draw conclusions from the information presented stressing the need for an open, honest and sensitive discourse. It finishes with a look at how the challenges identified offer an opportunity for a transformational understanding that can help us move towards the building of genuine and meaningful communities in Britain and beyond. (Paper length – Approx 4000 words

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