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He’s more encouraged by subsequent gatherings that he says have proven far better at engaging Muslim youth to talk about the issues that surround radicalization. These informal discussions and open forums where people can meet and discuss issues with peers stand in contrast to formal panel discussions that include leaders of the Islamic faith.
Facilitating discussion among youth is of particular importance because it’s mainly young people being targeted by ISIL and the other radical Islamic groups that seek to punish those who disagree with their extremist views. Ensuring that youth in the Muslim community have a place where they feel safe to talk about their concerns is the first step to stopping any radicalization, Gilani said.
“In a lot of cases when you have formal structure and formal panels, the kind of young people you want to be reaching out to aren’t going to be attending those,” he said, adding that drawing in as many youth as possible to talk about the issue is the most important thing to stopping unwanted influence.
However, “I don’t think anyone really has an answer,” he cautioned. “There isn’t a cut-and-dry method to addressing the issue of radicalization in our community.”
Sikander Ziad Hashmi, an imam with the Kanata Muslim Association, agrees.
Hashmi noted that Canada’s Muslim population, while steadily increasing since the 1970s, is still relatively young and small. While other community groups have had the numbers and time to integrate with Canadian society and set up services to help their people, Muslims are still working to create such services.