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Society does treat me differently and that is a shame’: understandings and feelings of Britishness amongst visibly observant young Muslims

Smithson, HL and Shazhadi, A and McHugh, R and Arun, S (2017) Society does treat me differently and that is a shame’: understandings and feelings of Britishness amongst visibly observant young Muslims. Journal of Youth Studies, 21 (5). pp. 607-617. ISSN 1367-6261

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Abstract

There has been increasing media and political questioning of the national loyalties and identities held by young British Muslims, with a particular focus on those seen to separate themselves through strict and religiously observant dress and lifestyles. This paper draws primarily on research focusing on the meanings of ‘Britishness’ held amongst a group of visibly observant young Muslim adults. Empirical evidence is provided to demonstrate that although these young adults demonstrated an explicit and visible sense of Muslim identity, this co-existed without any conscious conflict with their British identity. The young adults’ acknowledgement of their religious attachment developed from a positive and proactive identification with Islam rather than one in opposition or rebellion against a British identity. Therefore, in a wider context, their lives must not be analysed only through the lens of religion, dress and appearance as this has repercussions in relation to national policy formation and subsequent perceptions of wider society.

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