Live Magazine: Omar Shahid

We present the first in our interview series with the young journalists behind Brixton's youth-orientated Live Magazine to find out why the so-called lost generation have made England shake

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So much has been, and is still yet to be, made of what happened over the course of the past week. It's easy to become completely preoccupied with the immediate turn of events rather than contextualising the broader picture of how and why the riots actually came about. With the levels of violence, and the rapidity in which events took a turn for the worse, we now look for factors that could have contributed to this mess; youth unemployment at an all-time high, an awareness of income disparities within society, a consumer-orientated society and the effects of heavy government cuts.

Everyone seems certain to trade tabloid opinions and offer hypotheses towards a reason, but what we often forget is the voice of a neglected generation that may give some explanation. Here, we speak to Omar Shahid, political editor of South London's Live Magazine, about the riots, London's youth and how the future will treat them...

Dazed Digital: With the disturbances that have spread from London right across the country at the forefront of everyone's mind, what does the majority of your demographic really think about it all? Is there any form of justification?
Omar Shahid:
I have yet to come across one person who has justified the riots or looting. Everyone is against the riots but many are trying to ascertain why this has happened. I have heard reasons ranging from: capitalism, government cuts and police brutality.

DD: Why do you think the rioters took to the street?
Omar Shahid:
For the simple reason that they could. The protests that started in Tottenham were justified, as the killing of Mark Duggan, it seems, was unjustified. But since then we have seen a frustrated youth vent their disquietude by causing havoc. The reasons are complex - as Ed Miliband says. I believe they stem from the voracious and egotistical society we live in.

DD: In your latest feature for Live Magazine you talk about there being a lack of respect and a lost sense of direction.Do you think there is a deep-seated discontent among the marginalised youths of our society that needs to be addressed? If so, how?
Omar Shahid:
Of course. The youth need to be empowered. The only way this can be done is through promoting the importance of education.

DD: Do you believe that the nature of these riots relate to a number of issues - for instance, government cuts in education, an awareness of the disparities income, a consumer orientated society, race relations i.e with the police, youth unemployment and ultimately the death of Mark Duggan?
Omar Shahid:
It’s got little to do with government cuts or the disparity of income. There are lots of people who didn’t take to the streets and are probably much less financially fortunate. Why didn’t they? Those who rioted didn’t think about the consequences. They saw an opportunity to get instant gratification and acted upon their impulses.

DD: Can you see the trouble escalating any further?
Omar Shahid:
Not for the mean time. It could erupt in the future if harsh punishments aren’t meted out to the guilty ones.

DD: What do you think will be the outcome from all of this and do you think youths within our society maybe ostracized in the future because of what has happened?
Omar Shahid:
There is good in everything. We saw solidarity between different ethnic communities; riot clean ups and people showing their bravery by protecting their livelihoods. There is no doubt our country has been disgraced by a minority of the youth. It is the job of the majority to stand up to stop this from tarnishing the reputation of the many good young people.

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