CEGEPS will host centres to study radicalization
Published Thursday, October 13, 2016 1:56PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 13, 2016 9:01PM EDT
Three schools in the Montreal suburbs will launch a new approach to studying radicalization next week.
Funded with a grant awarded to Cegep Edouard Montpetit teacher Martin Geoffroy, his school, along with Cegep Saint Hyacinthe, along with the St.Jean Royal Military College, will participate in the program.
The centres to study religious fundamentalism and radicalization, nicknamed CEFIR after the French acronym, will not be anti-radicalization centres.
Instead they will be places where students and teachers can learn about what leads people to turn to radicalization, fear of the other, and violent behaviour.
Geoffroy said that many of his students have felt targeted by talk of Muslim extremism, and the centres will point out that all major religions have turned out zealots and terrorists.
"It's not just the Muslim religion that leads to radicalization. There is terrorism in Christian religions, in the Jewish religion. In all big religions in the world there is radicalization," said Geoffroy.
The research conducted at the CEFIRs will lead to the creation of plans to educate not just students, but the general public about religious fundamentalism.
Researchers hope to create scholastic tools and programs that can be used by schools and community organizations.
Geoffroy said one problem is that when the public at large demonizes members of a particular group, the constant harassment convinces people who would otherwise be contributing members of society to radicalize.
"We don't want to go after the Muslim students in our Cegeps and ask them 'Are you a radical?'" said Geoffroy.
"We especially don't want to do that because research shows that if you do that, it can be counterproductive."
In other words, punishing innocent people can convince them to commit crimes -- and create the very problem people were trying to avoid.
Geoffroy said by pointing out that radicalism is a worldwide problem with many root causes, it can lead young adults to better integrate into society.
"When we approach our Muslim students we will approach them by talking about the fundamentalisms of the world," said Geoffroy.
"They will be much more willing to listen to us if we say 'you're not the only ones.'"
The CEFIRs open Monday at the three schools.