Mobilisation through Islam
in Class, ethnicity and religion in the Bengali East End
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Chapter 8 examines the growth of Islamic identity and political organisation. It starts by discussing different approaches to Islam and the meaning of Islamism. It looks at groups linked to Jamaat-e-Islami, whose ultimate aim is an Islamic state, and how they build support through strong organisation, grassroots community work, prosletysing, and civic engagement. And it also looks at more radical groups – Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun - who see themselves as a revolutionary vanguard for the restoration of an Islamic state. It argues that the turn to religion, which has happened throughout the Islamic world, is a consequence of the decline of a left alternative. Young Bengalis face alienation, racism, inequality, and no future. Islam offers them brotherhood, certainty and pride. It also argues that, while a very few have gone on jihad, it is dangerous to claim that Islamist ideas lead to extremist violence. However, Islamism has led to conflicts with non-political Muslims (especially concerning alleged war criminals from 1971) and has put difficult peer pressure on college students. It also perpetuates separatism.Finally, the chapter looks at how governments have deliberately promoted faith groups - which has consolidated religious power, encouraged conservative values, and cut across class-based organisation.

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