By Katherine George
A Muslim leader on Tuesday expressed qualified support for a new effort in Montreal to create a hotline and a centre to reduce radicalization.
Sameer Zuberi, board member of the Canadian Muslim Forum told Humber News that the core idea of prevention is a good idea, but the way it was launched raises some concern.
It is unclear what sort of radicalization we are talking about – Sameer Zuberi
“The fact that it appears the police are leading this initiative means we aren’t dealing with prevention, but rather crisis management,” said Zuberi.
“If we are going to be effective in preventing these problems we need to focus on public education, social programs and counselling,” he said.
The plan for the centre would be a first in North America, the Montreal Gazette reported.
Thee announcement comes shortly after a Montreal man was issued a peace bond last month over fear of committing a terrorism offence and after another incident in February, as well, in which several teenagers in the city were believed to have joined militants in Syria.
Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, the city’s police chief Marc Parent and Kathleen Weil, Quebec’s Minister of Immigration, made the announcement on Monday.
The hotline will seek to end violence while providing social support and guidance to families and stakeholders in the community.
No details yet
Details on how the centre will run have not been released yet, Anna-Claude Poulin, a Montreal police media relations officer, told Humber News.
“The centre will aim to work upstream of the phenomenon of radicalization leading to violence and to support families, relatives and other organizations in Montreal,” said Poulin.
The Radicalization Prevention Centre is partnering up with various local sectors including public safety, education, health care, community and social services.
“It must have means to put a stop to the radicalization process and to minimize the number of radicalized individuals who go on to commit violent acts,” said Coderre in a statement released on Monday.
The effectiveness of this prevention centre depends on how people view it, said Zuberi.
“It is unclear what sort of radicalization we are talking about. The mayor tried his best not to speak about any religious group in particular, but all that we are talking about in society are Muslims for radicalization,” he said.
“We’ve decided to show our leadership on vigilance. Violent radicalization is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon,” said Coderre.
The hotline is already up and running, but the centre will take a couple more weeks, said Poulin.
Zuberi hopes the centre will get ahead of the problem and not put the police force behind it.
“We need public education and social service – if that is to happen I think it will be a positive contribution, and if it isn’t we will be reproducing the same errors we already have in the past,” said Zuberi.