Monday, October 29, 2007
Young men watching popular American TV shows on satellite dishes. Young women wearing garish makeup. Teenagers sending secret text messages and arranging illicit trysts. These are perhaps scenarios you'd expect from a major U.S. city, not the images we normally see from the Middle East.
These are some of the things Jared Cohen found when he set out to get the real story from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. This young foreign policy force is responsible for public diplomacy, Muslim world outreach and North Africa at the U.S. State Department's Office of Policy Planning and, at 25 years old, has the experience to rival his veteran counterparts. Defying government orders, Cohen toured hostile Islamic regions to talk face-to-face with terrorists in an effort to debunk stereotypes and reveal a shocking subculture in his latest book, "Children of Jihad: A Young American's Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East."
As a Jewish American, Cohen has guts. He went to Lebanon to interview Hezbollah members at, of all places, a McDonald's. In Iran, he found underground parties, where bootleg liquor, Western music and the Internet are all easy to access. His risky itinerary aims to show us how and why the under-30 generation in the Islamic world is the best hope for the West.
Update: Watch the CNN.com Live Video interview
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Young People Who Rock is a weekly interview series focused on people under 30 -- from CEOs to entertainers to athletes to community and political leaders -- who are doing remarkable things. CNN Anchor Nicole Lapin introduces them here, then interviews them Fridays on CNN.com Live. Log on in the 3 p.m. ET hour to catch the interviews.