Sociology professor Jasmin Zine says Muslim youths are often misunderstood
An Ontario academic says that Muslim young people in Canada are experiencing negative effects of the so-called war on terror in some unusual ways.
On September 10, Jasmin Zine, an associate professor of sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, said during a panel discussion at W2 Media Café that she has interviewed more than 100 Muslim youths over the years and that many believe they’re under surveillance or being watched.
“Because they were often quite young, they said, ‘9/11 didn’t affect me,’ ” Zine said via Skype during the forum called What Has Changed Since September 11, 2001?
However, when she probed deeper, she heard troubling stories. Some Muslim kids reported that they sometimes walk quickly in the mall in order to get away when they have the sense that they’re being followed by an agent with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Others worry about playing video games in public for fear they’ll be viewed as violent. She even heard from members of a Muslim student association that debated for a month about whether or not to play paintball because of concerns over being seen as a terrorist training group.
“These are the very real ways in which the politics of empire weigh against youth,” Zine said.
She described the so-called Toronto 18 case, in which Muslim youths were arrested en masse, as a “flash point” for creating overblown fears about homegrown terrorism in the general public.
“A lot of youth are [construed] as a potential radical threat to the nation,” Zine stated. “In fact, when you really look at what youth are involved in, they’re incredibly engaged actors.”
She noted that art is the preferred tool of resistance to discrimination, citing Muslim youths who have become comedians, spoken-word performers, and musicians in order to express their political views. She emphasized that none of the kids she’s interviewed has expressed any interest in committing violence against society.