WINNIPEG – The RCMP and two Islamic groups are hoping to combat the glossy recruitment videos of extremists such as ISIS with a booklet aimed at youth who are in danger of being radicalized.
The booklet, titled “United Against Terrorism,” is meant to combat the idea spread by extremists that being a true Muslim means waging war on western society.
“All these verses that the terrorists twist, of the Qur’an, or misinterpret, we have addressed them and we have brought information to back that up,” Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association, said Monday.
The 37-page booklet is also aimed at alerting parents to warning signs that their kids may be radicalized — sudden anti-social behaviour, an interest in extremist websites and an adoption of views that are anti-women.
The booklet comes amid a small but growing number of reports of Canadians joining extremist groups and some going overseas.
Earlier this month, the Canadian Somali Congress of Western Canada wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and warned that young people in Alberta are being recruited to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Last winter, Damian Clairmont, a 22-year-old Calgary man, was killed while fighting with Islamic extremists in Syria. His mother, Chris Boudreau, has called for new efforts to reach young people before they become radicalized and go overseas.
Siddiqui said her group, along with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, does not have the type of funding to make high-tech videos and websites that ISIL-related organizations have. She hopes that the new booklet will help arm both young people and their parents.
There is also a section aimed at non-Muslims — to educate the public at large about the difference between the Muslim religion and the violence of extremists. For example, Siddiqui said, using the term “jihad” for extremist violence is wrong, because the term denotes a religious duty.
“The terrorists pick that up and they say, ‘Aha! Look. Even (westerners) recognize what we are doing is noble’.
“Islam only allows war under self-defence. It does not allow for random violence against civilians or the stuff that they are doing.”
The RCMP contributed a section to the pamphlet that explains the role of law enforcement and offers tips to parents about monitoring their children’s online activities. It says no community or racial group is being targeted.
“The RCMP does not target communities; we target criminal activity wherever it takes place.”