Youth Strike Balance Between Conservatism, Modernity

By Wassim Bassem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The youth in Iraq are taking advantage of the summer months to wear the clothes they like and flaunt their flexibility in changing hairdos and giving themselves makeovers. In light of the increasing social openness and society’s improving purchasing power, advocates of conservatism find themselves at odds with the emergence of modern trends.

Imad Saqr, a social researcher and youth-affairs activist, told Al-Monitor, “The young people who follow modern traditions are religiously conservative and expressive and enthusiastic when it comes to religious events.”

It is now common in Iraq to show religious affiliations through fashion, blending local religious culture with Western and modern style. Mohammad Kamel, 18, has his armed tattooed with the sword of Imam Ali, which is currently in fashion in Iraq. In Adhamiyah in Baghdad, Rahim Maher had his wrist tattooed with the name of Omar, an influential 6th century caliph.

Saqr highlights a love for “change” among Iraq’s youth, who follow the latest trends in clothing, hairstyles and cellphones. Even young boys buy the latest technological devices that broadcast religious texts, prayers and Quranic recitation, embodying an amazing harmony between love for modern technology and attachment to social and religious customs and values.

Saqr accuses Western nations of seeking to spread their culture via the modern technology exported to various countries around the world.

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