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Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West

Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West

Author: Justin Gest
Published by Hurst & Co. Publishers Ltd., London WC1B 3PL

In July 2010, Hurst Publications arranged a presentation for journalists at the London School of Economics, where the author of the book, Justin Gest, personally presented his latest work.

Gest is a Harvard College Fellow in the Department of Government at Harvard University; he also serves as Deputy Director of the Migration Studies Unit at LSE, where he is a Research Associate at LSE’s Global Governance. Over the past ten years, he has reported and written for a variety of British and American newspapers.

Apart gives reasons why Muslims in the West stand ‘apart’. It is an analytical study of second generation Muslims living in Madrid and London. It explores why so many Muslims are disaffected, why others are engaged and why some seek to undermine the political systems that could embrace them.

Gest undertook research in London’s East End and Madrid’s Lavapies districts, where he conducted over 100 interviews with community elders, imams, extremists, politicians, gangsters and ordinary people who are just trying to lead their daily normal lives.

Confronting conventional explanations that point to religious inequality and discrimination, Gest comes up with a new theory, arguing that alienated and engaged political behaviour is distinguished not by structural factors but by how social agents interpret their shared realities.

Apart sounds an unambiguous warning to Western policy-makers and presages an imminent American experience with the same challenges. How Western governments discipline their fear and understand their Muslim fellows may shape democratic social life in the foreseeable future. Gest has carefully researched and brought a fresh perspective on the question of Muslim alienation in Europe. Balanced and judicious, his valuable insights have a wider application.

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