The 20 or so participants hesitate before entering the basement of Anatolia Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Most of them come to the mosque every day for prayer. This is the first time they are joined by national security officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). All of the attendees, mostly middle-aged Muslim men and a few women of mixed ethnicities, are here to take part in the RCMP citizen’s academy course, a get-to-know-your-local-law-enforcement workshop that will cover such things as Internet safety, immigration and recruitment.
The national security arm of the RCMP created the academy in 2005, a few months before the terror bust and arrest of the Toronto 18, as a way to give Muslim leaders and community members a venue to air counter-terrorism concerns and dispel misconceptions about how the RCMP operates.