Laurier prof analyzes stereotypes of Muslim youths

Earlier this month, Wilfrid Laurier University sociology Professor, Jasmine Zine, spoke about her research on Muslim youth post 9/11 and the negative stereotypes that this “war on terror” has created for them.

While talking with over 100 Muslim youths across Canada, Zine has conducted vast research on this topic, focusing on how Muslim youth are “being securitized.”

“There were these ways in which Muslim youth were being constructed in the media and by the security communities [that] certainly filters sometimes into the public,” Zine said. “I was interested in how that affected their sense of citizenship, identity and belonging in Canada and ways in which they resist that.”

Zine became passionate about this issue specifically after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Zine then expressed that her interest stemmed more specifically in Canada because of the “Toronto 18 case, [which put the youth] as sort of the enemies within and potential domestic terrorists.”

The Toronto 18 case refers to an anti-terrorism case in the summer of 2006, where 18 individuals from the Greater Toronto Area were arrested due to suspicion of terror. Seven of these people admitted guilty to the charge, four men were convicted and the charges against the seven other individuals were either dropped or remained.

Zine explained that some of the youth she talked to expressed that they were nervous giving in to these connotations. They worried about what kind of jokes they could say in public, were skeptical of the type of violent video games they should be playing and  were concerned about whether or not it was appropriate to engage in a simple game of paintball.

Zine explained that some of the Muslim youths she has talked to have found art as a positive outlet for their resistance.

“[It’s] another way of claiming voice in politically turbulent times,” she added.

She elaborated on one comedy group called Conflict Relief, that is made of up of Palestinian and Israeli youth that aims to “bridge the gap between what is happening politically.” Other groups and individuals focus on poetry and art as ways to express their stance on the issues at hand.

Laurier does house a Muslim Student Association club, and Zine had the chance to talk to some of its members in regards to her study.

“In the last year, I have done interviews with some of their members, they have been very cooperative,” she said.

“Unfortunately I think some of these kinds of stereotypes will persist because they’ve actually been around, they’re not new,” Zine added.

However, Zine believes it’s a positive step in the right direction.

“Youth [are] beginning to comprise part of the counter public sphere and [by] us being very engaged in creating new narratives, in creating their own kinds of cultural productions in ways that can counter those representations, [it is a positive thing,” Zine concluded.

“If that continues to grow, then I think that’s what we need to encourage and to support [Muslim youth].”

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