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The Struggle with the Role of Religion in Radicalization

by Lorne L. Dawson, Professor, Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo & Director, Canadian Network for Research On Terrorism, Security, and Society 

In seeking to explain instances of jihadist terrorism, like the horrendous attack on Westminster Bridge and the British Parliament on 22 March 2017, there is still a strong tendency to revert, at least implicitly, to one of three overly convenient scenarios, and each these explanatory scenarios tends to reduce, or even dismiss, the role of religion in the instigation of these terrorist acts. For many observers the perpetrator is simply crazy, and hence his religious views do not matter. For others he is engaged in a calculated act of political extremism, of protest against the political policies of the government, and hence his religious justifications are quite secondary. While for some others, the opposite is true: his actions, they assert, are the direct manifestation of the perverse teachings of Islam. The public, however, is largely unsympathetic to this view and tends to respond by denying that Islam, and religion in general, had anything to do with inspiring such acts. Islam is a religion of peace, and to say otherwise, is false. These quick reactions are not mutually exclusive, but they are by no means compatible either. Lay and scholarly accounts of what happened, often shift rather indiscriminately between these popular options.

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Violent Extremism in the News: A Cautionary Note

by Dr. Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, Director, Institute of Intergovernmental Relations & Associate Professor, Political Studies, Queen’s University

We are used to seeing murder and mayhem in the news. News is not filled with the mundane aspects of life, but focuses on the unusual events that attract attention. In addition, there is a negativity bias in news that emphasizes disaster, crime, depravity, and other frightening aspects of humanity. It is not the abnormally good news that occupies newspaper pages and Twitter feeds, but the bad.

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Is the counternarrative of terrorists groups not representing the true Islam helpful for members of the Muslim community?

Imam Mohamad Jebara, PhD, serves as Chief Imam and Resident Scholar at the Cordova Spiritual Education Center

Imam Mohamad Jebara is also an author, poet, athlete, reformer, and inline skater. In September 2014, as the “Cycling Cleric”, Imam Jebara became the first cleric in history to cycle and roller-blade for health, from Ottawa to Quebec City. To find out more about Imam Jebara, check out http://www.facebook.com/imammohamadjebara

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An Overview of Modern Right-Wing Extremism in Canada

by James O. Ellis III – Project Lead for the Canadian Incident Database (CIDB) 

Right-wing extremism is a serious problem that hasn’t been taken seriously in Canada.  There has been little in the way of national level policy and policing in this area.  The Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s 2012 Domestic Threat Environment in Canada report opines: “Such ideologies are spreading in Europe and the United States, but in Canada, they still remain on the societal fringe.  The majority of individuals involved in the milieu in Canada hold strong racist and anti-immigration views, but do not overly propose serious acts of violence.”  The CSIS webpage states: “Right-wing extremism has not been as significant a problem in Canada in recent years. Those who hold such extremist views have tended to be isolated and ineffective figures.”  An Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) Threat Assessment released in January 2017 offered little insight into domestic extremist groups and suggested that there was “no indication that right wing extremists pose a threat to migrants and in particular, recently arrived Syrian refugees.”

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Parents and PVE

By Christianne Boudreau (@ChristianneBoud)

In our world today, parents have yet another concern to educate themselves about as well as learn how to approach the topic with our children and educate them.  This new phenomenon of radicalization, or path to violent extremism, is actually not that new.  It has been around for years in many different forms including cults, gangs and right-wing extremism.  The downfall is it is not something that has been at the forefront of the mainstream population until now.  That also means that it is something that most communities haven’t put on their list to tackle.

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Terrorism Today

In one day the people of seven countries with a Muslim majority population were banned from entering the United States, but several politicians refuse to call it what it is; a Muslim ban.

And in another day, six people lost their lives in a terrorist attack in Quebec City. But instead of deeming it an act of terror, it’s seen as murder.

An important component of the criminal justice model is public confidence in the administration of justice, but how can one have confidence in the justice system when terrorism (which is an admittedly politically-laden term) fails to refer to violent attacks perpetrated by extreme right-wing individuals?

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How does the targeting of legitimate voices (by terrorists or police and security personnel) impact Muslim communities?

Imam Mohamad Jebara, PhD, serves as Chief Imam and Resident Scholar at the Cordova Spiritual Education Centre.

Imam Mohamad Jebara is also an author, poet, athlete, reformer, and inline skater. In September 2014, as the “Cycling Cleric”, Imam Jebara became the first cleric in history to cycle and roller-blade for health, from Ottawa to Quebec City. To find out more about Imam Jebara, check out http://www.facebook.com/imammohamadjebara

Staying Critical Online

The past year has seen the development of a widespread and important problem: the spreading of an enormous quantity of false information online. Fake news is made with the sole intention to be satirical and ironic. However, other news articles are created to be sensational and generate clicks and likes. Moreover, some fake news are propaganda websites that have a specific interest behind the information they convey. Research shows that adults get a good proportion of their news and information from the internet and social media. Most people are therefore at risk of taking false information and believing it to be true. The problem is that fake and real news or information are presented in such a similar way that it is becoming very difficult to differentiate the two. Continue reading “Staying Critical Online”