Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Iraqi youth becoming less religious

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The International Herald Tribune reports that, disillusioned by the daily violence that surrounds them, young people in Iraq are becoming less religious.

Over a period of two months 40 young people from five cities were interviewed, and their responses showed "a pattern of disenchantment ... in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives."

Of course, this is anecdotal evidence and, as the Herald Tribune points out, "it is far from clear whether the shift means a wholesale turn away from religion. A tremendous piety still predominates in the private lives of young Iraqis, and religious leaders, despite the increased skepticism, still wield tremendous power."

Nevertheless, the study suggests that young people are far from impressed by the violent extremism that is often seen to prevail in today's Iraq. Many of the responses echoed the sentiments of Sara Sami, a high school student from Basra, who said "I hate Islam and all the clerics because they limit our freedom every day and their instruction became heavy over us. Most of the girls in my high school hate that Islamic people control the authority because they don't deserve to be rulers."