Canada gets passing grade in anti-radicalization fight

The Globe and Mail – March 10, 2011

Is Canada doing a better job of integrating Muslims and preventing Islamist extremism from taking root? Canadian officials speak of having done a relatively good job of fighting radicalization. These officials say subtle policy initiatives, including managing immigration flows and reaching out to Muslim communities, can make a huge difference.

Al-Qaeda and its adherents recruit Western acolytes by framing the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan as aggression against Islam. Canada was named as a target by Osama bin Laden years ago, but it may be a lesser target today – the Canadian Forces never sent soldiers to Iraq and are now ratcheting down operations in Afghanistan. Whatever gains have been made in the fight against extremism of late, some Europeans, Americans and Canadians continue to flock to terrorist training camps in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia – prompting fears that at least some of their ranks will eventually return to attack the West.

The Canadian Forces Begin Recruiting in Mosques

In an effort to generate interest among Muslims in careers in the Canadian military, the Canadian Forces have begun making appearances in mosques. Reception is mixed. At Burnaby, British Columbia’s Al-Salaam mosque, some members claim a religious institutions should not be used to showcase the military, while others warn of an organization involved in a combat mission in Afghanistan where fellow Muslims are being killed.

Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phililps of the Canadian National Defense Public Affairs Office says that like women and Aboriginal people, Canadian Muslims are underrepresented in the Forces. The sessions seek to disseminate information in a direct, unfiltered manner to minority groups. They also highlight the army’s “Muslim-friendly” accommodations, including the availability of halal foods and Muslim chaplains.

The Canadian Forces has made strides in attracting women (about 37% are now women), but only 5.4% are visible minorities and just under 4% are aboriginal.

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