Many British Muslim Women Embrace Political Islam

Two and a half years after British-born Muslims carried out suicide bombings in London that killed 52 people, British authorities are worried about the growing number of Muslim youth turning their backs on mainstream British society.

Most surprising is that many second-generation daughters of South Asian immigrants are embracing a political form of Islam.

Some say British Muslims have felt a growing sense of alienation since Sept. 11, 2001, and the London bombings, which has inspired some to segregate themselves from mainstream society and to greater assert their Muslim identity.

The ‘Muslim Woman’s Dilemma’

At the Islam Channel TV network, located in a sleek glass and steel building near London’s financial district, the reporters are mostly women — all with their heads covered. Some reveal only their eyes underneath black veils.

The network broadcasts a talk show called, “The Muslim Woman’s Dilemma.” Host Aamna Durrani wears a headscarf tightly wrapped around her head that falls into soft drapes over her shoulders.

Durrani was born in London to Pakistani parents and is increasingly asserting her Muslim identity, especially since 9/11 and the 2005 London suicide bombings that led to what she says are draconian anti-terrorism laws.

“My allegiance to the Muslim ummah, the community, definitely has got a lot, lot stronger as a result of the war on terror. And it has made the sense of solidarity throughout the world a lot stronger — and definitely for Muslim women here in Britain. It has really made us think where our loyalties lie,” Durrani says.

Growing Alienation from British Society

Analysts here say another cause of local Muslims’ growing alienation has been Britain’s role in the war in Iraq. They say it has inspired many young Muslims to segregate themselves from mainstream society.

A 2006 Pew poll showed 81 percent of Muslims surveyed considered their Islamic identity more important than being British. Like some others, Durrani says she would take part in the electoral process only if it were based on Islamic law and the Koran.

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