Thursday, February 26, 2009

Canadian Mosque's "Specialized De-Radicalization Intervention Program" - Sounds Good

In today's news: Saudi Arabia's 'jihad rehab' has competition - and this program may do something besides serve the House of Saud.

"Canadian Mosque Sets Up 'Detox' Program for Would-Be Terrorists"
FOXNews (February 26, 2009)

"TORONTO — A Canadian mosque is taking a page from the Alcoholics Anonymous guidebook and applying it to its fight against terrorism...."

The mosque's director, Mohammed Shaikh, says that his "Specialized De-Radicalization Intervention Program" is the first of its kind.

The idea is to take the idea behind the Alcoholic Anonymous 12 step program, and gear it for young people who got in the "wrong crowd." (The Internet is great - but it's also a place where people can meet some very - ah - interesting individuals. When that happens to an adolescent/early adult, whose brain and mind are still sorting themselves out, bad things can happen.)

Getting off-topic there.

Complete Rejection of Religious Extremism and Suicide Bombings

One more quote. Talking about Al Qaeda's version of Islam, a counselor with the program, Ahmed Amiruddin, said:

" 'Their interpretation of the Islamic faith is inconsistent with the last 1,400 years of Islamic schools of thought,' Amiruddin says, 'We clarify the differences and bring people back toward the traditional interpretation of the Islamic faith, which completely rejects suicide bombings and extremism in all of its forms.' "

This is another case where I seem to have more in common with traditional Muslims, than with people in the dominant North American cultures. I'm a Catholic, and get frustrated by the odd, to be polite, notions of what Catholicism is. More of that in A Catholic Citizen in America (blatant, shameless plug).

What struck me about Toronto's Masjid el Noor Mosque was the "completely rejects suicide bombings and extremism in all it's forms" statement. It sounds like this group has twigged to the notion that killing people you don't agree with went out of style a long, long time ago.

However, it's close to what the Fiqh Council of North America published in a fatwa some years ago. Saying that "
'Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism....
' " sounds very reasonable.

Not Even Terrorists Support "Terrorism," it Seems

Just how reasonable the Fiqh Council's fatwa is, depends on what's meant by "extremism," "innocent lives," and "terrorism." Last year, following some of the standard-issue propaganda (or news, depending on your point of view) from the east end of the Mediterranean, I wrote:

"...I think I understand now. Palestinians blow up strategic schools and students, attack tactical markets, and the Jews are to blame for it. That makes outfits like Hamas 'national liberation movements.' When the Jewish military takes down rocket launchers hidden inside someone's home, that's terrorism.

"Goofy, but pretty straightforward: and quite simple to understand, once you learn to look at the world that way."
(May 16, 2008)

So much depends on how terms are defined.

As for the Fiqh Council: I still haven't made up my mind about whether they're being extremely cautious and academically scrupulous, consciously giving an 'out' for Muslims who want to kill people they don't approve of, or something else. I really don't know.

Masjid el Noor Mosque's Program - Probably Better than Jihad Rehab

I haven't read many glowing reports about Saudi Arabia's 'jihad rehab' program lately. A possible explanation may be that too many people read the fine print, and found out just what the House of Saud was teaching the terrorists.

As nearly as I can tell, the message was: Attacking the House of Saud, or embarrassing the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is contrary to Islam. That's dandy for people living in Saudi Arabia, who don't offend the religious police, but not so good for the rest of us.

"Specialized De-Radicalization Intervention Program" - Let's Keep a Good Thought

The Toronto mosque's program isn't intended to deal with deeply-committed radical Muslims. The target group is younger people, who probably have as firm an idea of what Islam is, as many of their non-Muslim counterparts do of Christianity, Buddhism, or whatever.

I said no more quotes, and I meant it, but I suggest you read what Daveed Gartenstein-Ross has to say in the article, about the jihad rehab programs in Saudi Arabia and Yemen: He says a reason for their high recidivism rates is the high incentives for 'renouncing' terrorism.

Back to Toronto: At this point, I'm willing to wait and see. I've corresponded with enough Muslims to think that quite a number of people who follow Islam are calm, sensible, people who don't think bin Laden is right.

I hope, with some reason, that the Masjid el Noor Mosque's program has the goals they say it does: and has a chance of achieving those goals.

Related posts (so much depends on what the terms mean): In the news:


Anonymous said...

Hey - sounds like a really good thing they have. If this war is about hearts and minds, this is the way to fight it. I truly pray for their success.

Brian H. Gill said...


As do I.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.