Friday, August 26, 2016
Extremist literature common in many mosques and Islamic school libraries in Canada, study says. But, you may not tell a joke about Islam in Canada. Suicide by guilt.
OTTAWA — Many mosques and Islamic schools in Canada are placing young people at risk by espousing — or at least not condemning — extremist teachings, a new study says.
Co-authors Thomas Quiggin, a former intelligence analyst with the Privy Council Office and the RCMP, and Saied Shoaaib, a journalist originally from Egypt, base their findings on research conducted quietly in mosque libraries and Islamic schools.
The study says what worried them was not the presence of extremist literature, but that they found nothing but such writings in several libraries.
“Further research is required to determine the depth and breadth of this problem,” the study says.
The authors say openly available material and analysis of social media postings helped confirm their views that many Canadians, including leading politicians, are turning a blind eye to the dangers.
They argue the issue is too important to ignore, given that a number of young Canadians have become radicalized to violence.
Canadian Muslims with humanist and modernist outlooks are being drowned out by those with extreme views, the study says. “The struggle for the soul of Islam between Islamists and humanists goes on in Canada and the U.S., not just in the Middle East, Europe and South Asia.”
The Canadian Council of Imams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Liberal government plans to announce details soon of its plans for a national office of counter-radicalization to carry out research and co-ordinate activities across Canada.
One year ago, the Senate defence and security committee issued a report saying some foreign-trained imams had been spreading extremist religious ideology and messages that are not in keeping with Canadian values, contributing to radicalization.
The committee has urged the government to explore imam training and certification in an effort help curb radicalization, one of 25 recommendations it made in the interim anti-terrorism report.
When the report was released, an Ottawa imam, Mohamad Jebara, raised questions about its key recommendation.
“Who is going to do the certifying?” asked Jebara. “Islam is so diverse, like many religions. So what sect or school of thought are you going to certify?
“It is extremely complex,” he said. “It’s like having certification for Christian clergy. The question is: Would the Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons agree on requirements for certification? Obviously not.”
Targeting Muslim clergy exclusively could backfire, said Jebara, and result in further marginalizing Muslims.
The committee report called on the government to work with the provinces and Muslim communities to “investigate the options that are available for the training and certification of imams in Canada.”
The report was not supported by Liberal senators on the committee. It was denounced by the National Council of Canadian Muslims as stigmatizing and failing to offer effective solutions to the challenge of violent extremism.
The Canadian Press, with files from Ottawa Citizen