‘It is a battle for hearts and minds’: Trudeau’s $35 million gamble to counter radicalization

By Douglas Quan
National Post | June 11, 2017

As a family gathers around the dinner table, one seat is conspicuously empty.

“He’ll be back soon,” the mother says in the video, referring to her son, a presumed foreign fighter. “You know how much he loves my cooking.”

Her husband reaches his hand over to hers. “Darling,” he intones, “it’s been over two years now.”

As the scene fades to black, a message flashes on the screen: “They’ll be missed more than they’ll ever know.”

Grassroots organizations in Europe, such as Families Against Terrorism and Extremism, have produced a number of high-impact videos in recent years aimed at curbing violent extremism among youth and undercutting terrorist propaganda.

But whether these and other counter-radicalization measures being tried in the West are having any impact on would-be terrorists is anyone’s guess; the evidence is still largely lacking, experts say.

That uncertainty now looms over the Canadian government as it prepares to unveil a new office aimed at thwarting radicalized violence, whether perpetuated by radical Islamists or far-right extremists. After a lengthy delay, the Liberals are expected to launch the new office — currently called the Office of the Community Engagement and Counter-Radicalization Coordinator — in the near future, pledging $35 million over five years to support intervention efforts, counter-narrative campaigns and research.

. . .

Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said her organization has been getting regular updates on the counter-radicalization office and is so far encouraged that Ottawa seems to be taking an inclusive approach to the problem. “We’re all in this together.”

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