WATCH: The RCMP says it can’t support a new handbook, aimed at preventing the radicalization of young Canadians, which it collaborated on with Muslim groups. The Mounties are backtracking over some controversial wording. Mike Le Couteur explains.
WINNIPEG – The RCMP is backing away from an anti-terrorism handbook it helped write in collaboration with Canadian Muslim groups.
The “United Against Terrorism” booklet was unveiled at a news conference in Winnipeg Monday. The logos of the Islamic Social Services Association, National Council of Canadian Muslims and RCMP are on the cover, but there was no RCMP representative at the event.
In a news release posted on its website Tuesday, the RCMP says “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 booklet is subtitled “A collaborative effort towards a secure, inclusive and just Canada” and was promoted as a tool to help prevent the radicalization of Muslims in Canada and the creation of homegrown terrorists.
The RCMP said it contributed only to Section 3 in the book, “Understanding Radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security,” and it isn’t responsible for any other content.
It wasn’t immediately clear exactly what “adversarial” elements in the book caused the RCMP to rethink its part in the initiative, or why the national police force allowed a document to be published with its logo on the front without agreeing to all the content inside.
“This is not an RCMP booklet, they have done their part and we appreciate it,” Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association told Global News Tuesday night.
The Muslim groups worked on the booklet for 18 months with participation from Manitoba’s D Division RCMP, but learned only on Monday morning that no RCMP representatives would be attending the announcement later that day, she said.
“This is an opening of dialogue — it’s the beauty of democracy,” Siddiqui said. “If they want to talk, the door is always open.”
It may be parts of Section 5 that the Mounties object to. Titled “Recommendations for intelligence and law enforcement officials,” it suggests officials avoid terms like “Islamist terrorism” and discontinue “inappropriate information-gathering techniques including … showing up at workplaces, intimidating newcomers, questioning individuals religiosity and discouraging legal representation.” It also suggests officials not use the terms “jihad” or “jihadis.”
“Any discrimination at the hand of police, RCMP or CSIS should be reported and not ignored,” a line in Section 2 says.
There is a disclaimer in the margin of the inside cover of the booklet that reads, “Contributors are responsible for their respective contributions and do not necessarily endorse other material contained in this publication.”
A call to the RCMP’s national media relations office in Ottawa was not immediately returned Tuesday night.