OTTAWA – Many mosques and Islamic schools in Canada are placing young people at risk by espousing – or at least not condemning – extremist teachings, a new study says.
Co-authors Thomas Quiggin, a former intelligence analyst with the Privy Council Office and the RCMP, and Saied Shoaaib, a journalist originally from Egypt, base their findings on research conducted quietly in mosque libraries and Islamic schools.
The study, titled “Lovers of the Death”? – Islamist Extremism in Mosques and Schools, says what worried them was not the presence of extremist literature, but that they found nothing but such writings in several libraries.
“Further research is required to determine the depth and breadth of this problem.”
The authors say openly available material and analysis of social media postings helped confirm their views that many Canadians, including leading politicians, are turning a blind eye to the dangers.
They argue the issue is too important to ignore, given that a number of young Canadians have become radicalized to violence.
Canadian Muslims with humanist and modernist outlooks are being drowned out by those with extreme views, the study says. “The struggle for the soul of Islam between Islamists and humanists goes on in Canada and the U.S.A., not just in the Middle East, Europe and South Asia.”
The Canadian Council of Imams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Liberal government plans to soon announce details of its plans for a national office of counter-radicalization to carry out research and co-ordinate activities across Canada.
One year ago, the Senate defence and security committee issued a report saying some foreign-trained imams had been spreading extremist religious ideology and messages that are not in keeping with Canadian values, contributing to radicalization.
It called on the government to work with the provinces and Muslim communities to “investigate the options that are available for the training and certification of imams in Canada.”
The report was not supported by Liberal senators on the committee. It was denounced by the National Council of Canadian Muslims as stigmatizing and failing to offer effective solutions to the challenge of violent extremism.