The adults thought they’d done all they could. They had condemned extremist ideology, provided ski trips and scout meetings, and encouraged young people to speak openly about how to integrate their religion, Islam, with the secular world.
But since five college-age Virginia men were arrested in Pakistan earlier this month after allegedly being recruited over the Internet to join al-Qaeda, many Washington area Muslims are questioning whether mere condemnation is enough.
Until now, many Muslim leaders have focused on what they saw as external threats to young people, such as Islamophobia or the temptations of modern secular life. Now they say it is time to look inward, to provide a counterweight to those who misinterpret Koranic verses to promote violence — and to learn what rhetoric and methods appeal to young people.
Radicals “seem to understand our youth better than we do,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.
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Not a very nice story about madrassas in you-know-where and the young students from throughout the world who attend them along with thousands of Pakistani kids, including American youth.
Anas bin Saleem, a 12-year-old American, spends seven hours a day sitting cross-legged on the floor memorizing the Quran.
He is one of thousands of foreigners who have flocked to conservative Islamic schools in Pakistan, despite a government ban, the Associated Press has found through interviews with officials, documents, visits to the schools and encounters with dozens of students.
In Anas’ school, Jamia Binoria, several hundred students from 29 countries live alongside 5,000 Pakistani pupils, teachers said. Binoria is one of the largest schools in the country and one of at least four schools in Karachi with foreign students on its books.
Anas says he’s not taught militant Islam at Binoria. But clerics firmly endorse suicide bombings and jihad against Western troops in Afghanistan on the school Web site, and Anas admits he is fed up with anti-American barbs from teachers and pupils.
“I get it like every second,” says Anas, who left Louisiana last year with his Pakistani-born mother, barely spoke the national language when he arrived in Pakistan and misses Hannah Montana. “I’m like ‘shut up’ and don’t talk like that.”
Only a handful of the foreign students are Westerners; most are Asians and Africans in the late teens or early 20s. Many come to Pakistan for a cheap Islamic education, albeit a conservative one, part of a tradition of Muslims traveling to gain knowledge that goes back centuries.
I guess US kids in Pakistani madrassas don’t get it much easier than the children of US foreign service employees.
…an educational campaign to counter radical Internet sites and tell young people not to visit them. He said the disappearances indicated a “serious problem,” though radicalization isn’t widespread among U.S. Muslims.
I checked on CAIR’s website and they have not yet apparently posted anything about the educational campaign.
Mokhtar Ghambou wrote a guest article at “On Faith” entitled “Sufism as youth culture in Morocco“
Slots are filling up for the 47th annual Muslim Youth Camp, a week-long family camp held in the California mountains August 10-16. There are kids attending this camp whose grandparents attended as kids! If you are interested in a slice of Muslim-American history, and want to see a program that has proven itself able to create a stable Muslim-American identity for the past half century, come and volunteer to be a counselor or teacher. All ages welcome. Go to muslimyouthcamp.org for more information, or get in touch w/me.