"British Muslim girls and extremism" by Sara Khan

Many teenagers feel their parents are not credible authorities; mothers, for their part, told us they were unaware of what educational resources existed to challenge extremist ideology.

Source: theguardian.com

I met British Muslim women from Sunni, Shia, and Ahmadiyya denominations; women from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Somali, Arab, English, Welsh and Kurdish backgrounds. Young women, mothers and grandmothers. So diversity and complexity of views should always be reckoned with. However, three common themes began to emerge: barriers within families, barriers within communities and a lack of engagement with “outside” agencies that could help.

Within families, the barriers start with language. This was evident when group facilitators were needed to translate some of our workshops from English to Arabic, Urdu and Punjabi. Raising teenage children is hard enough, but different first languages can widen this inter-generational divide as a mother and daughter struggle to make sense to each other. Cultural, religious and gender expectations of parents also often differ to those of their children’s.

When children ask searching questions about extremism and religion, parents often close down the debate because they can’t answer theological questions. The lack of religious knowledge among families was recognised as a weakness.

Inevitably, some of these children go online to find their answers – and extremist websites are there awaiting their curiosity. Many teenagers feel their parents are not credible authorities; mothers, for their part, told us they were unaware of what educational resources existed to challenge extremist ideology.

Wider concerns were also… read more at theguardian.com

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