Arab Today, arab today farah pandith is giving young us muslims a voice
Last Updated : GMT 09:22:01
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Farah Pandith is giving young US Muslims a voice

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Farah Pandith is giving young US Muslims a voice

Cairo - Arabstoday

\"There is no us and them, there is only we,\" says Farah Pandith, who will mark four years in her post as the special representative to Muslim communities in the United States later this month In a post created on the heels of President Barack Obama\'s pivotal speech in Cairo in June 2009, her remit has been to engage with young Muslims around the world via social media, youth forums and non-governmental organisations. Yet her fourth anniversary brings with it the sombre warning that somewhere along the way, that message may be getting lost. On April 15 this year, two explosions left three dead and 264 injured at the Boston Marathon in an alleged terror attack. The reputed culprits, naturalised Chechen brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, were brought to Massachusetts as children for a better life, attended high school and dorm parties - yet never quite fit in. \"I don\'t have a single American friend. I just don\'t understand them,\" Tamerlan complained in 2010. \"There are no values anymore.\" Eight thousand kilometres away, a British soldier strolling back to his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, was hacked to death in broad daylight a fortnight ago in an apparently politically motivated assault. The man accused of his murder spoke calmly to passers-by in the following minutes, telling them: \"We apologise women had to see this today, but in our lands our women have to see the same.\" Yet both Michael Adebolajo, 28, and his co-accused Michael Adebowale, 22, were born and bred in London and had a typically British upbringing. They were said to have become radicalised after converting to Islam as teenagers. So how did four men, all under 30, enjoying the perks of a western education and lifestyle on either side of the Atlantic, slip through the net? And how did the very sector of society of which Obama and Pandith talked in such earnest terms about feel so completely disconnected from the system in which they were raised? As far-right demonstrators continue to clash with anti-fascist protesters on the streets of London, it might now be vital to look at the root causes of dissent, mobilised by western foreign policy, which triggered such extreme action and ignited fires that show no signs of burning out. *** Like the Tsarnaev brothers, Pandith was brought to Boston, Massachusetts, as a child. The daughter of immigrants from Srinagar, Kashmir, she was a year old when her Muslim mother, Mehbooba Anwar, arrived in the US on July 4, 1969. \"She said the only thing I can give you is an education. I cannot give you a fortune,\" recalls Pandith, now 45. \"America has the most diverse group of Muslims anywhere in the world. Growing up in a state that prided itself on being a historic part of America was very much part of who we were. I learned very early on about our country, the importance of community and the important narrative of immigrants, but I also grew up going to a mosque in which I was praying side by side with people from all over the world.\" The Boston bombings left her reeling, but the causes behind them, she says, are familiar ones: \"As a Bostonian, as an American and as a Muslim, it has been a very tragic thing to watch in my own city but the themes we see happening around the world with youth are echoed in this particular instance. \"The job that I do as special rep around the world in listening to young people under the age of 30 makes me see things with a perspective that comes from youth - questions that they ask about identity, questions that they ask about their role in the world … it does not matter where in the world I have gone, these are the themes I have heard.\"  

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