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'From cricket lover to terror suspect' - challenging representations of young British Muslim men

This paper comes out of a wider project looking at the educational attainment of young British Pakistani Muslim men and women and focuses on the findings from the interviews with 58 young men from Bradford and Slough.  Whilst not suggesting that these form ideal types, the authors present their findings around four different comparative identifications: 'religious' masculinities; 'middle-class' masculinities; 'rebellious' masculinities; and 'ambivalent' masculinities.

Their findings, which concur with those of other researchers such as Alexander  (2000), show that the identification of young British Muslims could not be further from the homogenous 'enemy within' popularised in much of the media.  The authors also found that committment (and practice) of Islam did not have a negative correlation to the desire to study hard and achieve personal betterment.

The clear evidence challenging popular media portrayals of Islam as fostering fundamentalism and terrorism is neatly presented in this short paper.  Whilst Islam was an important identification for all the participants, they articulated this in very different ways.  Where a 'hard' (British) Islamic identity was expressed it was, the authors state "not necessarily reflected in observance of religious practices, and might be understood instead as an idiom for the expression of 'protest masculinities'."

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