Montreal’s anti-radicalization center shifts from jihadism to far-right violence

Montreal’s anti-radicalization center no longer occupies the same spacious offices that once received high-profile visitors like then-UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

To reach his current office, visitors must walk through the corridors of the concrete pyramid that is the city’s former Olympic Village, past pizzerias and sushi restaurants, other offices and a grocery store.

The new location is one of many changes the Center for the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence has undergone since it opened to much fanfare in 2015.

Its creation came as a wave of young Quebecers left to join the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and after the attacks in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, inspired by the terrorist group.

Read more:

Montreal restores funding for the 2019-2020 action plan of the Center for Combating Radicalization

The story continues under the ad

After a period of organizational turbulence, the center continued its work, with a lower profile, a reduced budget and a focus that increasingly shifted from radical Islam to the far right and conspiracy theorists. .

Louis Audet Gosselin, scientific and strategic director of the centre, affirms that if the fear of the departure of young people for Syria was the « spark » which convinced the authorities to finance the centre, the institution very quickly specified that its field of action was not limited to a threat.

He says the center quickly found it very important to communicate that radicalization was something far beyond this specific moment, and this specific ideology of jihadism, or a form of political Islam.

Click to play the video:

U of W team works to help teachers identify student radicalization

He says that every type of ideology, social or political idea can have a radical and extremist tendency, and can lead to radicalization.

The story continues under the ad

Audet Gosselin says the COVID-19 pandemic has « democratized » the notion of radicalization by making people understand that it could happen to anyone of any age or from any background.

Calls to the center in 2020 – the first year of the pandemic – doubled from the previous year, with the centre’s annual report attributing the spike to « a fraying of the social fabric » that led to acts of violence, conspiracy theories and a polarized debate.

&copy 2022 The Canadian Press


Back to top button