Muslim leaders stand united with fellow Calgarians in battle against extremism
CTV News Calgary | March 01, 2015
Published Sunday, March 1, 2015 5:47PM MST
Last Updated Sunday, March 1, 2015 6:24PM MST
Members of Calgary’s Muslim community are taking a proactive approach to preventing vulnerable local youth from radicalizing and pursuing involvement with extremist organizations.
On Sunday evening, Muslim leaders are meeting with officials from other faith groups, police, university groups and politicians to develop a strategy for protecting at risk youth.
“In a very peaceful city like Calgary, we have seen a number of kids from here that have gone abroad,” said Atthar Mahmoud of Muslims Against Terrorism. “I think that they are brainwashed by some sources and that is the authority’s job to find who is behind it.”
At least five Calgarians have joined the forces of ISIS, a decision which has proved fatal for at least four of the young extremists.
“Basically, the idea is to create awareness” said Syed Sohardwary of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. “Islam is not about what ISIL and ISIS are doing. It is against Islam, it is wrong, it is criminal, and it is not jihad. It is terrorism.”
Community leaders say many Muslims are critical of what they perceive to be the federal government’s soft approach to ISIS recruitment on Canadian soil. Earlier this week, reports indicated six young people from Montreal had departed Canada for Syria to fight alongside the members of ISIS.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says additional resources are required to prevent Canadians from joining the terrorist organization.
“We need to make sure that we’re giving our police and information services and security services the powers they need to track and monitor and hopefully intervene in such cases,” said Trudeau.
Bill C-51, the new federal anti-terrorism legislation, has some Muslims fearing isolation and an increase in islamophobia.
“Where our people are getting radicalized, the government has to go after those people who are radicalizing,” said Sohardwary. “Prevention is the way to go otherwise we will be facing this problem for a long time.”