Radicalization hotline appears to be effective: outreach worker
Published Sunday, November 15, 2015 5:37PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 15, 2015 7:00PM EST
A hotline in Quebec appears to helping keep vulnerable youth away from radicalization.
Established nine months ago, the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence has seen a spike in calls since the attacks in Beirut and Paris this week.
The centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to assist those seeking information or reporting concerns about a change in behaviour of someone they know.
“When people call, they usually have concerns about their children, their friends or their students adopting new beliefs or having a discourse – hate speech or a discourse – that is violent or de-humanizing towards the community,” explained outreach worker Meriem Rebbani-Gosselin.
The goal of the centre is to provide support for families and communities, intervening when necessary.
“Any radicalization that leads to violence is concerning,” said Rebbani-Gosselin.
Since March, the centre has fielded nearly 400 calls. Out of those, six have been reported to law enforcement over fears that radicalized individuals could commit violent acts.
“I think that's part of the vigilance that we need to have, because as you see in France, many of them were homegrown radicals, if you will – terrorists,” said Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil.
Religious extremism expert Andre Gagne said terrorist groups target young people online, preying on those searching for an identity, angry and sometimes isolated from society.
More education is required to prevent misinformation online, added Gagne, who is an associate professor in religion and theological studies at Concordia University.
“We don't equip kids with a critical perspective on religious ideologies. We need to understand that religious ideologies come from religious thinking that goes back some 2,000 years ago, which is completely incompatible with our ways of life here in the west,” he said.
The Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence to violence can be reached by phone at 514-687-7141 in Montreal, or 1-877-687-7141 in the rest of Quebec.