Two campaign groups have teamed up to launch a national consultation that will explore issues affecting young British Muslims – the “forgotten voices” being ignored by politicians and academics in their attempts to combat radicalisation.
Today, on the 10-year anniversary of the 7 July London bombings, British Muslim Youth and Faith Matters will launch their national youth consultation in hopes of engaging with young people across the UK and assessing the drivers that could push them toward extremist groups such as Isis.
The initiative will connect with youth groups in Birmingham, London, Manchester, Bristol and Leeds over the next 12 months to create a detailed picture of online behaviour and the extremist material available, as well as assessing which elements of the material is deemed to be appealing.
Muhbeen Hussain, founder of British Muslim Youth (BMY), will lead the consultation, which will begin in September 2015. The consultation is being supported by the NGO Faith Matters and will be chaired by Naz Shah, the new MP for Bradford West.
“Young people have become the forgotten voices,” Mr Hussain told i.
“We have academics, politicians, men speaking political rhetoric – but we haven’t spoken to any young people in grassroots group. It is young people that are being radicalised. No one is listening them. Their voices need to be heard.”
Mr Hussain, who is 21, pointed out: “It is usually older people dictating to them. This consultation is by young people for young people.”
He added: “We are failing the young people in our country… We have to stop neglecting them, stop treating them as toddlers, and give them the voice they deserve.”
Many young Muslims are “very confused” and it is crucial that leaders and decision makers pay attention to their concerns, Mr Hussain said.
“On the one hand we are trying to fight radicalised people and terrorism, but on the other hand we are faced with Islamophobia and are being labelled terrorists.”
Fiyaz Mughal, chief executive of Faith Matters, said: “This is a real opportunity to assess…what influences young people online and how material may influence behaviour in relation to the way that extremist groups promote their caustic and deadly narratives.”