Religion guards against radicalization among Quebec’s CEGEP students: study
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, October 29, 2016 10:08PM EDT
A new study is dismissing the role of religion as a driving force behind radicalization within Quebec’s publically funded pre-university college system.
The research led by Dr. Cécile Rousseau, a child psychiatrist and scientific director of the SHERPA research group, shows that non-religious students, second-generation immigrants and those with even deeper roots in Canada are actually more susceptible to embracing radical beliefs.
Dr. Rousseau analyzed survey responses from 1,894 CEGEP students across eight campuses in the province.
“Having a religion and being religious is a strong protection factor which not only has a direct effect on the support through radicalization, but also moderates and decreases the impact of adverse life events,” she told CTV Montreal.
The findings of the online questionnaire looking at the causes radicalization paints a portrait of those most at risk. Men under 25, those who have suffered family violence and individuals who have faced discrimination or suffer from depression were found to be most vulnerable.
“The risk factors are mainly adverse life events,” said Dr. Rousseau.
Six young people from Montreal – four men and two women – left the country to join Islamic State militants in the Middle East earlier this year. The group, which includes 18- and-19-year-olds, is said to have left Canada in mid-January, and was likely headed to Syria. Four of them were students at the Collège de Maisonneuve in Montreal.
Approximately 130 to 250 Canadian have left the country to join ISIS, according to The Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence (CPDLV).
“These are people who either have very low job prospects, or feel disconnected to their current environment, and then decide this is how they're going to make some meaning for themselves,” Hussein Hamdani, a lawyer who works with families to prevent radicalization, told CTV News Channel in February.
A separate study released in August also pointed to social tensions as a significant driver of young Quebecers towards religious extremism.
The CPDLV found that radical Islamic groups have exploited religious tensions in Quebec, as well as the debate over the proposed Charter of Values, to lure young and alienated Muslims to foreign battlefields.
“Agents of radicalization played a very active role in stoking the anger and ‘sowing hatred’ in these young people by emphasizing Quebec society’s rejection of Muslims and Islam in general, as well as the impossibility for young Muslims to affirm their Muslim identity in Quebec,” said the report’s authors.
Dr. Rousseau research, which was prompted by increasingly effective recruiting efforts by terror organizations, underscores the need to find ways to reach out to troubled youths. Quebec’s CEGEPs say budget cuts make it difficult to provide the support recommended by the study group.
"We would like to be able to offer more, of course, because we have a lot of students and a limited number of people that can support them,” said Monique Magnan, director of student services at Vanier College. “You can see the importance of these services in preventing things like radicalization, but other issues as well.”
With a report from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin, and files from CTV News Channel and CTV Montreal