Could feds’ anti-terror rhetoric hurt counter-terror strategies?
By Anna Mehler Paperny
Global News | February 5, 2015
People who try to prevent radicalization of youth in Muslim communities say rhetoric around the federal Conservatives’ new anti-terror bill, and the way the Prime Minister presented it, makes their job harder.
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Another comment by Harper that day — “It doesn’t matter what the age of the person is, or whether they’re in a basement, or whether they’re in a mosque or somewhere else” — prompted some high-profile Muslim organizations, including the National Council of Canadian Muslims, to ask the prime minister to apologize for characterizing mosques as places of violent radicalization…
“It’s important for our elected officials to be judicious in describing the threats that we together face. They need to be accurate,” said the council’s executive director Ihsaan Gardee. “And when rhetoric like that is used, in the mind of the average person, they don’t necessarily make the distinction between extremists and the average, law-abiding, mainstream Muslim.”
Gardee worries Harper’s tone recycles “myths and stereotypes” about Muslim-Canadians being inherently violent, unwilling to integrate, presenting “some kind of a fifth column.” (Paradoxically, Gardee added, the message that Muslims aren’t as Canadian as everyone else, or should be viewed with additional scrutiny, makes it less likely Muslim communities will integrate.)
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Gardee said he’d appreciate more backing from the government for initiatives such as the “United Against Terror” handbook his group put out last year in concert with the Islamic Social Services Association and the RCMP (the latter pulled out of the handbook’s launch at the last minute because of apparent problems with contents it had helped develop).
“We hope the PM and his party would not politicize national security for the sake of an election,” Gardee said…