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Global events, national politics, local lives: Young Muslim men in Scotland Peter Hopkins.

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Presentation on theme: "Global events, national politics, local lives: Young Muslim men in Scotland Peter Hopkins."— Presentation transcript:

1 Global events, national politics, local lives: Young Muslim men in Scotland Peter Hopkins

2 Summary of research project Young Muslim men in Scotland: Scales of in/exclusion and the location of identity. 11 focus groups and 22 interviews between March 2002 and July Young Muslim men aged 16 – 25 from Pollokshields in Glasgow and South Edinburgh.

3 Disengaged from politics: Anwar:I dont actually know anything about the Scottish Parliament or politics and things like that…politics isnt me at all (Interview, Edinburgh, 17th December 2002) Qamar:I dont know, Im not really into politics (Interview, Glasgow, 23rd June 2003) Young people often regarded as apathetic and disengaged from politics Low levels of political participation, start-up problems, changing transitions to adulthood Young People and the political

4 Not really into politics: Michael:Im not into voting anyway John:What is the point in voting anyway? Bob:We dont really care we just want peace in the world, that is all Michael:Not really bothered Asadullah:Aye, were not really into politics Bob:Aye, none of us done Modern Studies, none of us picked that (Focus Group, Glasgow, 3rd April 2003) Around half of the seventy participants claimed that they were not interested in politics

5 … in Scotland, the police in Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders reported that racist attacks increased sharply - physical and verbal abuse, vandalism, graffiti and arson. A mosque in Edinburgh was firebombed, bricks were thrown at the central mosque in Glasgow, shopkeepers were abused, school children and their parents became fearful. The British National Party seized the moment to relaunch its campaign against Islam, boasting that it has now recruited Sikh and Hindu members (Kelly, 2003: 1). Global events

6 Asadullah:I think that George Bush and Tony Blair … they encourage racism against the Muslim community because they want to go to war with all the Muslim countries Kobe:If George Bush was here I would slap him man Michael:What has Britain got to do with it? Asadullah:Aye, I know. Why is Tony Blair backing up America and being his bum chum? (Focus Group, Glasgow, 3rd April 2003) Shakir:Aye, Tony Blair is his chum yeah Azam: Bushs poodle (Focus Group, Glasgow, 3rd October 2002) Global events

7 National and state politics The young men are not apathetic, or disengaged from politics Lothian Muslim Voting Committee Arif:I mean we can't speak for the Labour candidates who haven't voiced their opinions in recent weeks, but the ones that have spoken, apart from Robin Cook really and George Galloway, the others have all been pro war. (Focus Group, Edinburgh, 30th April 2003) Aware of influence of Prime Minister and others in world affairs

8 National and state politics In October 2002, David Wilson was found guilty of distributing hate-filled leaflets to households in Pollokshields The young men were aware of the existence and views of those associated with the BNP Qamar:… the best way to deal with these people is to ignore them, that is the best way (Interview, Glasgow, 23rd June 2003)

9 Arif:… At the end of the day they think they are doing a favour by standing for the British National Party, but if you look at it, if you look at what ethnic minorities have brought to this country in terms of culture, in terms of skills and expertise, the country is going to loose out as a whole, and these people dont realise that … they probably dont realise how much we rely on people from ethnic minorities … shops are open to ten oclock at night, they open early in the morning, the restaurants, the diversity of cuisine, and also, taking it from a professional point of view, a lot of ethnic minorities are doctors … the bottom line is the NHS … if they were to get rid of us, if they were to reduce the numbers of Muslim or ethnic minority doctors, then the NHS would collapse … and you cant replace doctors overnight (Interview, Edinburgh, 1st November 2002)

10 National and state politics Knowledgeable about contributions to society Omar:I see the BNP as a party that is trying to take away one of my identities, you know, if they could take away my Scottishness, they would … but they cant (Interview, London, 19th May 2002) The young men are not a generation apart (Henn et al, 2002) or disinterested, apathetic and inert (Skelton and Valentine, 2003: 132) Resistance, struggle and assertion

11 Local lives A mosque in Edinburgh was firebombed after September 11 th 2001 Impact upon the young mens negotiations of and struggles for the scale of the local much of the negotiation of difference occurs at the very local level, through everyday experiences and encounters (Amin, 2002: 959)

12 Local lives Peter:…what should Islam mean? Asadullah:It should mean peace Michael:Aye peace John:Peace Asadullah:Thats it man, it should mean peace … our countries dont go to war over silly things like oil and that, they go to war when they are defending themselves Bob:Aye and none of the Muslims go to mosque to talk about bombing other countries Asadullah:Yeah, we just go to pray for our God, in it (Focus Group, Glasgow, 3rd April 2003)

13 Summary and conclusions Three main contributions: Young people as knowledgeable and competent social and political actors Different geographical scales provide the setting for different kinds of social interactions, contestations and struggles over power and identities Challenges to the (mis)representation of young Muslim men as militant and aggressive, intrinsically fundamentalist ultimate others (Archer, 2001: 81).

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