Conference Paper

Constructing the "enemies within": Muslim youth and the racial politics of Canada's 'home grown' war on terror

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International security and intelligence communities have identified the radicalization and ‘jihadization’ of Muslim youth as the greatest threat to global security. As a result many western nations have implemented draconian immigration and security policies that have targeted Muslims immigrants and citizens. As a result Muslim bodies are coded as potential risks to the nation and the safety of citizens. New ontological categories such as the “radical,” “terrorist” and the ‘jihadist” are created that further demarcate Manichean divides and serve to justify imperialist policies and practices that operate within what Agamben notes is a ‘state of exception’ where civil liberties are eroded to safeguard national security interests galvanized by a culture of fear and national paranoia. This paper will examine the dynamics of racial securitization in Canada’s “home grown” war on terror and examine the impact of these policies and practices on Muslim youth labeled as potential threats to public and national safety. In Canada the arrests in 2006 of 17 youth and one adult under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the case of the “disappearing Somali youth” who have been allegedly recruited to fight with Al Shahbab will serve as case studies to examine how in a climate of heightened fear and risk, Muslim youth are constructed as the new “enemies within” and are central targets in the “home grown” war on terror. The paper will draw on qualitative responses from Canadian Muslim youth to provide a narrative analysis that situates their experiences as part of the ‘9/11 generation’ who are growing up in the shadows of this tragedy and the ongoing politics of imperialism, global militarism and racial securitization. The connection between these factors, rampant Islamophobia and the ‘radicalization’ of some groups of Muslim youth will be examined to redefine where the conditions of “risk” actually reside.

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