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Muslim youth speak on Islamophobia and questions on faith


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Muslim youth speak on Islamophobia and questions on faith

Aynur Simsirel wants to dispel myths about Muslims, to escape the seemingly endless political talk about radicalism, terrorism threats, citizenship or halal food.

But as principal of Ilim College, one of Melbourne's largest Islamic schools, Simsirel also wants the voice of youth to be heard first – to know what this constant questioning of their faith means for young Muslims.

"We haven't asked our young enough how they feel," Simsirel says.
To spark what she hopes will be an ongoing "community conversation", her school reached out this week, inviting teachers from neighbouring schools, youth workers and council staff to gauge and discuss stronger social ties.

The forum of almost 50 included staff from the nearby Penola Catholic College, the new state school Mount Ridley College in Craigieburn, as well as primary schools.

"We are here as an Islamic college, we see ourselves as a resource, and we're more than happy to actually help," Simsirel says.
But it was the experience of recent school graduates, Yusuf Ozen and Usama Iftikhar, that really brought home the effect what is sometimes labelled "Islamophobia".

"As teenagers we already face a wide range of different issues," says 19-year-old Iftikhar.
"Then that added pressure from the media, from government policies, and some things that politicians may say – sometimes it just destroys young people."