07 SES 02 B, Intercultural Research on Youth and Media
In Europe and Italy, research and studies have focused on the growing presence of Muslims (Cesari, Pacini, 2005), through observations and insights carried out from different perspectives: religious beliefs and practices, hope for a certain type of society (laic versus Islamic), definition of identity (religious, Italian, cosmopolitan), orientation regarding the education of children and intermarriage and requests made to educational institutions (recognition of holidays, teaching of religion in school). In addition, attention to the religious variable has often been correlated with that dedicated to labour issues (Are the Muslims discriminated against in the labour market, compared to other religious affiliations?), school (Does the increasing number of Muslim students give rise to claims against secularization and changes in education?), urban schedules and spaces, with specific requests regarding nutrition, places of worship and areas for the burial of the dead. From another point of view, the terrorist attacks in Europe added a further perspective of the analysis of this specific group, in an attempt to figure out if its members can become new representatives of fundamentalism in Europe (Meer, Martineau Thompson 2012; Bowe 2010). In this way, the intertwining between Islam and politics is back in the spotlight. However, it was attention directed more to the effects “of reaction” of the immigration society and the security concerns raised rather than the internal analysis of the different communities. This is also an analysis of the management of religious diversity, the result of stabilization processes of immigrant communities, which should be conducted where biographies of the characters are created and where different modes of relationship with the Italian society take form.
In this framework, Italy is becoming an interesting case study. It is not only a recent immigration country, facing a growing presence of immigrants, but also this growth has taken place in a short period, compared with other traditional migration countries. Of course the migratory flows follow a growing trend, but they are characterized by internal transformations. Among these, a growing juvenile population with a Muslim background can be considered a remarkable challenge in a Catholic country.
In this scenario, the paper will be focussed on 1) How young Muslims living in Italy use Facebook for developing, managing and discussing their religious belonging and 2) The effects of this process on the relationship between first and second generations. Should internet (and social networks in particular) be the safe arena in contrast with cities, neighbourhoods and groups where anti-Muslim feelings are in the air and break out frequently? Is online religious identity a good strategy for overcoming stereotyping in the real world?
The above mentioned issues will be discussed using 60 interviews with Moroccans and Egyptians (first and second generations) living in Turin , carried out in 2016, divided equally by sex. The analysis will also be enriched by considering experiences and new practices developed by second-generation Muslims in Turin and by the association Giovani Musulmani d’Italia online and offline (public readings and theatre, Facebook groups…). Respondents were reassured about the confidentiality of information and the ethical uses of the collected interviews. In the interview quotations, they are recalled in the following way: sex (F = Female; M = Male), age and citizenship.
The big challenge deals with the the ability of second generation-Muslims’ associations not to remain “forever young” and well-recognized on-line: they have to learn how to combine the demands of neo-Italians with those of older generations. In other words, after overcoming the phase of retreat to their origins and of shift between various identities both off- and on-line, they look towards the future. A future where becoming adults (and the assumption of new family responsibilities) , is already on the horizon and the appearance of a generation of older people who will consult, once again, religious associationism and the city about needs that go beyond taking care of one’s soul.
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