Opinion: Speaking to Young, Second-Generation Muslim Experience is Crucial in Fight Against Terrorism

July 31, 2005

Source: Chicago Tribune


On July 31, 2005 the Chicago Tribune ran an opinion piece by Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core and an adjunct faculty member at Chicago Theological Seminary, in response to the London bombings. Patel writes, "The problem is that some second-generation Muslims in the West are experiencing an identity crisis that is addressed most clearly by the radical fringe... As they grow older and feel the need for a unified Muslim way of being, it is Muslim extremists who meet them at the crossroads of their identity crisis. They say, 'Look how Muslims are being oppressed all over the world. You... have only one way to purify yourself: to become death and kill.' The logic is twisted. The conclusion is perverse. But for some young Muslims, this is the first time they are hearing Islam applied to the world they live in. And so they listen... The single most important effort in the American Muslim community is youth work anchored in the American context... If we do not help our young people develop a Muslim identity relevant for their time and place, we forfeit them into the hands of people who will make human bombs of them."