By Jenn Piatt
Jennifer is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Jennifer below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

The question has been asked, what role does one envision young people possessing in the context of US-Muslim relations. Before one can define a particular role for the nation’s youth, one must understand what is meant by “US-Muslim relations”.

The “Muslim World” does not fit into a box. “US-Muslim relations” should be understood as the relationship between the US and Muslim countries and the separate, but important perspective of the US and its own American Muslims.

As of 2009, Muslims made up nearly 23% of the world’s population and inhabited at least five continents. For many, the typical Muslim image is that of a Middle Easterner with Bedouin robes. Yet, nearly 60% of the world’s Muslims are Asian. While the faith remains consistent, the practices and daily life of the world’s Muslims are drastically different. American youth must learn to understand the difference. Indeed, the danger to the long-term relationship between the US and Muslims is the notion that the “Muslim World” somehow speaks, acts, and looks the same. Americans would hardly entertain the notion that all of its youth supported President Obama and in the alternative, President Bush.

In the context of pluralism, American youth are appropriately positioned to address this issue. The specific role can materialize in many ways, but perhaps the easiest is doing what youth naturally know to do; remain open to new ideas, engage the world, its people and its food at every opportunity, strive to see the similarities and explore the differences, travel and perhaps most importantly, talk to their fellow students about what they discover. These natural actions have a great and lasting impact and will undoubtedly produce a generation of youth more capable of approaching the world’s problems.

Jennifer is currently a JD/MS candidate at Creighton University’s School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska. Jennifer earned a BA in Political Science, minoring in Chicano/Latino Studies and is interested in working on U.S. Policy to the Middle East. Jennifer is married to a Muslim from Saudi Arabia and has two children. She believes in the capacity of students to bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world through travel, mobilization and engagement.