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Being Young and MuslimNew Cultural Politics in the Global South and North$
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Asef Bayat and Linda Herrera

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195369212

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195369212.001.0001

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Muslim Youth and the Claim of Youthfulness

Muslim Youth and the Claim of Youthfulness

(p.27) 2 Muslim Youth and the Claim of Youthfulness
Being Young and Muslim

Asef Bayat

Oxford University Press

In Muslim societies, youth politics has espoused two contradictory sentiments: youth as a source of fear and hope. On the one hand, youths are seen as the foot soldiers of radical Islamism and violent politics, and on the other, as agents of democratic change and an open society. Through a comparative analysis of youth cultural politics in the Middle East—notably Iran, Egypt, and, somewhat, Saudi Arabia—this chapter first argues that political imaginations about the young—whether as radical Islamists or democratic reformers—are misconstrued. Second, by conceptually distinguishing between “young people” (as an age category) and “youth” (as a social category), this chapter postulates that “youth movements” are not necessarily about political change, but are essentially about “claiming youthfulness.” The political efficacy of youth movements depends to a large extent on the capacity of the adversaries—the political and moral authority—to accommodate the claims of youthfulness.

Keywords:   Iran, Egypt, Middle East, youthfulness, youth movements, young people, Islamism

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