Lesson Plans

Preventing Radicalization of Muslim Youth in Sweden

Salahuddin Barakat

Salahuddin Barakat, founder of the Islam Academy in Malmo, Sweden, says the school teaches religious and secular topics with the aim of "immunizing our youth against radicalization." Image by Betul Barakat.

Objective:

Students will be able to analyze a news article and cite evidence from the article in a debate about the causes of radicalization in Sweden.

Warm-up:

1. What are the “no-go” zones in your neighborhood? The places where you are told not to visit?

  • Make a list of those places and include a brief description of why you are not advised to go to those places.

2. Jot down your response to the following questions and be prepared to share your response with a partner, or with the class.:

  • Who lives in “no-go” zones in your city?
  • Why do you think those people live in those areas?

3. Consider the following description of what some consider a “no-go” city in Sweden. (The description comes from the article “How Young Muslims in Sweden Are Trying to Protect Youths from Radicalization” by journalist Nick Shindo Street:

"Malmo City Hall is similar to Ferguson," Barakat said, referring to the St. Louis suburb where weeks of civil unrest followed the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in 2014. "Our government doesn't look like the community."

  • List three predictions about Malmo City Hall. What are some ways it might it be similar to Ferguson?

Introducing the Lesson:

1. Today you will utilize an article by journalist Nick Shindo Street in an investigation of the lives of Muslims in southern Sweden that are trying to prevent radicalization in their community.

2. Write your definition of the word “radicalization.” What happens when someone becomes radicalized?

3. An imam that Street interviews is quoted as saying, "We have to address the social reasons for radicalization if we want to work in the long run for the society we would like to see."

  • Make a prediction: Write at least three “social reasons” that youth in the imam’s community might be drawn to radicalization.

Introducing the Resource: “How Young Muslims in Sweden Are Trying to Protect Youths from Radicalization”

1. Read the article attached and answer the accompanying questions.

2. As your read, note evidence of the following:

  • Social reasons that Muslim youth in Sweden may be drawn to radicalization
  • Efforts taken by the Muslim community to prevent radicalization

3. Be prepared to share your responses with the class.

Discussion:

1. Use evidence from the text to engage in a discussion with a partner, or the class, that addresses the following questions:

  • What leads to radicalization, and what can be done to prevent it?
  • What do you think should be the next steps to preventing radicalization in Rosengard, Sweden?

2. Have one partner, or one person from the class, take notes on the discussion.

Option: Use the following table to track the notes from your discussion:

Causes of radicalization

Ways of preventing radicalization

   

Extension:

1. Write a short essay that uses details from the article to describe the challenges young Muslims are facing in Sweden and the solutions they have come up with to combat radicalization. Conclude your essay with your own suggestions for how Rosenberg can continue to combat radicalization. Use details from the article to support your ideas.
 

2. Write down a list of ways that other stakeholders (government, companies, other countries, etc.) could support the Muslim community in Rosenberg’s mission to stifle radicalization in Sweden. Organize your list into a presentation that organizes your ideas around a central theme (powerpoint, poster, commercial, etc.)
 

3. What does radicalization look like in your community? Where do you see people in your community turning to violence in response to discrimination? Use the article to compare the radicalization of Muslim youth in Sweden to radicalization in your own community. Write your response in a short essay. In your essay, include evidence from news articles or interviews in your analysis and conclude by suggesting what could be done to curb radicalization in your own city.

Educator Notes: 

The following lesson plan and classroom resources uses international reporting to investigate how Muslim communities in Sweden are preventing radicalization of Muslim youth in their communities. Using the article attached, comprehension questions, discussion questions and extension activities, students are asked to consider the causes of radicalization and the potential solutions. The lesson plan aligns with the following Common Core standard and is appropriate for middle school and high school students:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Lesson facilitation notes:

1. The lesson plan is written for students to be able to explore the resources and reflection exercises independently.

2. Students may need to have an extra sheet of paper, or a blank online document open, to answer the warm up, comprehension and extension questions.

3. The lesson lists several extension exercises. Students could choose one or work through all of the listed exercises.

4. The warm up and post-reading reflections in this lesson could also lead to rich conversations. You may want to work through the lesson along with the students and denote moments for interactive activities.

5. This lesson can be sent to students electronically by clicking "share" once it is published. From the electronic lessons, students can access the Pulitzer Center reporting by clicking on the links under "Resources". When printing the lesson, the text from the resources will print after the student instructions.

6. With questions about this lesson, contact education@pulitzercenter.org

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