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RCMP pulls support from United Against Terrorism handbook

09/30/2014 08:45 EDT | Updated 11/30/2014 05:59 EST
The RCMP has pulled its support from a handbook aimed at stopping young Canadians from being recruited by extremist groups, saying parts of the booklet have an "adversarial tone."

The police force is listed as a contributor in the handbook, titled United Against Terrorism: A Collaborative Effort Towards a Secure, Inclusive and Just Canada.

- On mobile? Read the handbook here

The publication was written by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Islamic Social Services Association. It was released at a Winnipeg mosque on Monday.

But in a statement issued late Tuesday, the RCMP said it is no longer supporting the project.

"After a final review of the handbook, the RCMP could not support the adversarial tone set by elements of the booklet and therefore directed RCMP Manitoba not to proceed with this initiative," the statement said. 

The RCMP did not elaborate on its concerns regarding the handbook.

The 38-page handbook is directed mainly at Muslims, asking readers what Islam requires from Muslim citizens in a non-Muslim country and stressing the duty to follow the law of the land.

The RCMP contributed to a section titled "Understanding radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security."

On Tuesday, the police force noted that it's not responsible for the material in the rest of the booklet.

In a joint statement, the Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims pointed out that the handbook includes a disclaimer that says: "Contributors are only responsible for their respective contributions and do not necessarily endorse other material contained in this publication.

"This is a handbook for use by Canadian Muslim communities to help them identify radicalization, prevent violent extremism, build civic engagement and uphold civil rights. Canadian Muslims are entitled, like all other Canadians, to know their legal rights when interacting with law enforcement. This is a basic Canadian and core democratic concept which we all uphold," the groups' statement reads in part.

"Our recommendations to security agencies are based on years of direct experience with grassroots communities and the concerns aired by Canadian Muslims during local town hall forums in 2013 in the presence of law enforcement participants," the statement added.

RCMP's full response

Below is the full text of the RCMP's response, issued Tuesday, regarding the United Against Terrorism handbook:

The safety and security of citizens is of the utmost importance to the RCMP, and we take any threat to the security of Canadians and their livelihood seriously.

The RCMP has a longstanding relationship established with the communities it serves and for the past several years, it has been building trust with the communities through its national security community outreach program.

The RCMP contributed to Section 3 of the handbook entitled "Understanding Radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security". We are not responsible for other material contained in this publication.

After a final review of the handbook, the RCMP could not support the adversarial tone set by elements of the booklet and therefore directed RCMP Manitoba not to proceed with this initiative.

Any questions regarding the distribution, use or intention of the booklet should be directed to the authors, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Islamic Social Services Association.

Source: RCMP newsroom

Groups respond

Below is the full text of the response from the Islamic Social Services Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims to the RCMP's statement:

The Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) issue the following joint statement in response to recent remarks by the RCMP with respect to the United Against Terrorism handbook which was released on September 29th at the Winnipeg Central Mosque.

"We greatly commend and appreciate the RCMP's contributions to this important tool in the struggle against violent extremism.  Since Monday, we have received enthusiastic support for this initiative from Canadians across the country and countless requests to distribute the handbook in our diverse communities.

"This initiative has been a true success as it brought law enforcement, community leaders and Canadian Muslim communities together with a common focus on safeguarding Canada and addressing youth radicalization towards criminal violence. The handbook does take an adversarial stance against violent extremists and those who seek to recruit and radicalize Canadian youth towards criminal violence. 
 
"As might be expected, the content of the handbook was shared with all contributors for constructive feedback throughout the 14 month development process.  All feedback received was incorporated.  The handbook also contains a clear disclaimer on page 1 that states: 'Contributors are only responsible for their respective contributions and do not necessarily endorse other material contained in this publication.'  

"This is a handbook for use by Canadian Muslim communities to help them identify radicalization, prevent violent extremism, build civic engagement and uphold civil rights.  Canadian Muslims are entitled, like all other Canadians, to know their legal rights when interacting with law enforcement.  This is a basic Canadian and core democratic concept which we all uphold.  Our recommendations to security agencies are based on years of direct experience with grassroots communities and the concerns aired by Canadian Muslims during local town hall forums in 2013 in the presence of law enforcement participants.
 
"We look forward to working with all of the contributors in challenging violent extremism and building a more secure, inclusive and just Canada."

Source: National Council of Canadian Muslims newsroom

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