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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 09:43 GMT
Young UK Muslims: Sima
The majority of Muslim people in the UK are immigrants from Asia, from countries such as Pakistan and India.

MEET THE PANEL
Name: Sima
Age: 25
Lives: London
Works: Solicitor

They have a different way of life to someone like myself, who is of Syrian, Armenian and Turkish descent.

Cultural traditions infiltrate into religion. It is a different way of life to those with a Middle Eastern background.

I feel that some of the people who speak under the banner of Islam do not represent me.

We may follow the same religion, but sometimes cultural issues overtake this.

Sometimes, I do feel there is prejudice between Muslim people, that if you do not practise certain elements, they look down on you.

My parents are from Syria and are liberal about many issues. But when I was at school, some of the Pakistani children in my class would be confused and ask "why aren't you covered up? Why aren't you wearing a skirt?"

UK MUSLIMS' VIEWS
But then, when I am in Syria, people assume I am Christian because I look Westernised. It is not really a problem, but they have stereotyped me.

We complain about being stereotyped by whites but we stereotype each other, too.

When the media make programmes about Muslims, they invariably go to socially deprived areas.

A new generation came here in the mid-1980s and early 1990s to seek education and go into respected professions. However, we are portrayed solely as unemployed, working class poor.

People need to see that a new generation of teachers, doctors and lawyers is contributing to British society.

Education is the most important thing. Our community leaders need to be more encouraging to Muslim youth.

At the moment they just make them hard-hearted, when the imams should teach them to know about the importance of achieving.

In a special week of features about Islam in Britain and Europe, the BBC News website is focusing on voices who have something to say - but may not always get heard.






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