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Apart: alienated and engaged Muslims in the West

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Apart explores why many Western Muslims are disaffected, why others are engaged, and why some seek to undermine the very political system that remains their primary means of inclusion. Based on research conducted in London’s East End and Madrid’s Lavapiés district, and drawing on over 100 interviews with community elders, imams, extremists, politicians, gangsters, and ordinary people just trying to get by, Justin Gest examines young Muslims’ daily existences. Confronting conventional explanations that point to inequality, discrimination and religion, he builds a new theory arguing that alienated and engaged political behavior is distinguished not by structural factors, but by how social agents interpret their shared realities. Gest’s conclusion sounds an unambiguous warning to Western policy-makers, and presages an imminent American experience with the same challenges. Our political futures are likely to be shaped significantly by how government and people discipline their fears the better to understand their Muslim fellow citizens.

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