August 14th, 2009
11:37 AM ET

Young Muslims: The Battle for Hearts and Minds

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/08/07/generation.islam.tech/art.young.muslims.cnn.jpg]

Eboo Patel
For the Washington Post

Are young Muslims going to be bombs of destruction or bridges of cooperation? That's the central question asked in Christiane Amanpour's documentary Generation Islam, which aired on CNN Thursday night, and for which I was interviewed.

There are 780 million Muslims in the world under the age of 25 – over 11 percent of the world's population. The median age in Afghanistan is under 18; the median age in Iraq under 20. Too many of these young people grow up in poverty. And while poverty doesn't cause extremism, it does create conditions that extremist groups like the Taliban exploit.

The Taliban's strategy is simple: build schools in villages too poor (and too poorly served by their governments) to afford their own.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Eboo Patel • Islam
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. RoseProphecy

    Those in poverty of mind and spirit are far more tragic than those in poverty of body! I rose for the youth of the world who were silenced angry and neglected when the giants were running the rat race without any knowelde of how to be or a larger purpose in life at the cost of humanity! I wrote 9 books in 1994 to liberate humanity and give back the right and dignity of the young and those who did not want People Power and Young Power faught me all theway to the point of enouraging the young to martyr themselves instead of following my Unviersal Laws of Human Rights and Leadership Excellence of creating freedom and peace in the world without war and violence and sanctions that are at the cost of the people!

    August 16, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  2. Shahd

    I do agree that the educational system and media as well in middle east affects the heart and mind of young muslims, and another problem is i feel that some people depent on limited amount of knowledge, and they are close minded, they are not open for new ideas or even discussion to get to a solution, its the my way or the highway kinda thinking. I think that the young generation has to get out there and educate themselves whetheir religiously or globally, be open to listen to other ideas and be respectecfull, no matter how bad your treated be paitent about, fighting has to be the 100000000th solution

    August 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  3. Joe G. (Illinois)

    When looking at comfort in all practicality one would think that those who have been accustom to less know only less and therefore be happier for less.. But handing over free sniffs of “America’s Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll” can surely poison innocent minds and stir up turmoil. “All done innocently of course.” At least that's my opinion. Thanks

    August 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm |
  4. JC- Los Angeles

    It's one thing for Christiane Amanpour to be born into a life of privilege in the Middle East but an entirely different matter for her to continually force feed Americans with issues confronting today's Middle East.

    US education today and the youths of America today are being failed by our leaders in historical ways and it's getting a little old to repeatedly hear of other parts of the world rather than our own home.

    The United States has been the cleaning lady for far too many houses and it's long overdue for us to clean up our own mess.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  5. Isabel • Brazil

    This strategy is great. Education is the solution for the people not be oppressed. The more knowledge the people have access, greater will be its capacity of understanding of what is right or wrong, what is fair or not.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  6. Joanne R. Pacicca

    Sadly, their culture allows only religious zeal as a form of adolescent descent. Many can be lured to the propaganda in their state of poverty and extremism.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  7. Fred Pomerantz

    I watched Generation Muslim and was upset by a number of things:

    I preface my remarks by saying I am a CNN viewer on a regular basis, a NY Times reader, a left-leaning Democrat and an American-born Jewish professional.

    1. In the program's second part on Gaza I found incredible anti-Israel bias. There was no balance in the discussion of why Gazans find themselves in their pathetic plight. Had there been a discussion of the constant rocket firing into israel by Hamas prior to December 2008, and the regular use of civilians as human sheilds by Hamas, and the failure of Hamas to improve the plight of its citizens, or the incredible financial and medical/humanitarian assistance provided to gazans by Israel and the U.S., or even the contrasting and improving conditions of the Fatah-governed west bank's Palestinian population, the bias would have been ameliorated. This report, howver, made no pretense of balance. I was disappointed by the reporting and highly offended.

    2. There was a segment whose translation was inflammatory and should/could have been edited because it was so offensive. It portrayed a Palestinian woman and her children who had lost their father/husband in an airstrike in December 2008. The propaganda impact and the widespread hatred against Jews was unrecognized by the producers and should have been edited. The remarks to the effect "if I find any Jews I would kill them all; I will teach this to my children as well." could have been edited by substituting the word "Israelis" or "Zionists" for "Jews". Although the remarks were reported on accurately and precisely that does not mean it was appropriate and it certainly was potentially inflammatory and inciteful of anti-Jewish sentiment and actions to viewers around the world and should have been recognized and edited as such. I say this in view of the increase in anti-Jewish hate crimes around the world in the past year and in light of my first set of reactions above.

    I believe this should be changed before the program is rebroadcast. I challenge you to post these remarks, but more important, to act responsibly and to do the right thing.

    Fred P.

    August 14, 2009 at 11:59 am |