NEWS

B.C. Muslim Association tackles youth radicalization

01/16/2015 10:30 EST | Updated 03/18/2015 05:59 EDT
The B.C. Muslim Association is launching a campaign against extremism to counter increasing efforts by radical groups to recruit Canadian youth.

Scholar Aasim Rashid said work is already being done with youth to deal with the issue of radicalization, but more needs to be done in light of Canada's military involvement in Syria.

"There is definitely going to be an increased level of activity from ISIS in terms of recruitment, and with the airstrikes happening they may find many more sympathizers on Canadian soil that they otherwise would," said Rashid.

If people are being radicalized, it's not happening in the mosques, but in fringe-areas of the community and in front of computer screens, he said.

Last year it was revealed that former Kamloops university student Collin Gordon and his brother Gregory, who are recent converts to Islam, were recruited out of the Muslim community in Calgary to join the ranks of foreign fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

It was also revealed that Ottawa shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was kicked out of a Mosque in Burnaby, B.C. because of his radical views.

Public perceptions also a concern

The association is also concerned over how the province's Muslim community and Islam are perceived by the general public, in light of the recent attacks in Paris and at Canada's parliament building.

"We're calling it the campaign against violent extremism or CAVE. The objective of this is to create a preventative campaign to...educate Muslims and...educate non-Muslims."   

Rashid estimates there are about 70,000 to 100,000 Muslims living in B.C. and the association wants to tackle how non-Muslims feel towards Muslims.

"It gives the public also a chance to ask questions and raise their concerns."

The association is planning to reveal more information about the campaign next week.

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