Western Islamic Schools as Institutions for Preventing Behavioral Radicalization: The Case of Quebec
Keywords:Islamic school, Islamic radicalization, Muslim youth, ISIS, Quebec, Canada
Understanding radicalization in the West is more important than ever. Since the onset of the Syrian civil war, there has been increasing media and academic attention on the radicalization process of individuals and foreign Muslim fighters, leaving the comfort of their homes to join ISIS. Numerous initiatives, governmental as well as community-based, were created to combat and prevent this phenomenon. This inquiry sets out the core components to developing a critically reflective approach to Islamic schooling in the West for the purposes of preventing behavioral radicalization of Muslim youth.
Extensive research on Islamic education in North America is lacking; in fact, it is scarcer in Quebec. This paper examines the role of Montreal’s Islamic schools in countering or encouraging radicalization. I seek to address two main questions: (1) Do Islamic schools advance radicalization by providing cognitive radical platforms to students? And (2) how and why do certain parents consider these schools a safe haven from the radicalization of their children? I conclude that modern Islamic schooling, at least in part or in some cases, can be regarded as itself a preventive measure to Islamic behavioral radicalization. Indeed, such schooling can help in creating balanced western Islamic identities that are functional from both western and Islamic worldviews.
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