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Canada: “Promotion of Peace and Prevention of Youth radicalization”

A two day International conference on Peace Promotion and Prevention of Radicalization has just been concluded in Ottawa, Canada. The conference was hosted by Canadian Friends of Somalia, a multi task   agency based in Ottawa.

Organizers of this International Conference brought together all the stake holders including Youth, Diaspora Community members, Government leaders, experts, scholars, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, educators, imams and media members. In his opening remarks Mr. Farah Aw-Osman, Executive Directors of CFS and chair of the organizing committee lay out the goal of the two day conference which is to start a frank and transparent discussion on ways to advance peace and coexistence and prevention of radicalization. Echoing Farah’s remarks  Hon Vic Toews, Canada’s Public Safety Minister said:

“Canada’s strength lies in our commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  These are core values that are deeply rooted in our society.  We are proud to live in a country that embraces the many cultures and religions of the world but we cannot take our security and our freedom for granted.  As Minister of Public Safety, I have a responsibility to engage Canadians in an open discussion about the challenges we face in continuing to strengthen our country’s safety and security.  I also have a responsibility to speak candidly about the nature of threats facing Canadians.  These threats are real.  They pose a major risk to our lives and our livelihoods and they must be taken seriously. We must also focus our efforts on long-term preventative programming that aims to foster individual and community resilience. Violent extremism is not limited to any specific ethnicity or religion. Nor is there a single profile for individuals, communities or countries that are vulnerable to radicalization leading to violence,” said Minister Toews. “The Government commends the Canadian Friends of Somalia for initiating this important discussion today, and we welcome the opportunity to engage all Canadians in a serious dialogue on violent extremism and other national security issues.”

Searching causes of Youth disenchantment in general, representatives of Somali Youth in the Diaspora Communities addressed the conference about the challenges facing community members such as cultural, language, unemployment, discrimination and other existing social barriers. Youth representatives presented milestone success stories achieved by Diaspora communities in the participation of affairs in their adopted countries including social, political and educational achievements and contributions.

Dr Hodan Isse, Somali Scholar discussed the current affairs of Somalia and the threat of extremist groups. Dr Isse described extremism as a new global phenomenon which has no basis in the Islamic teachings and contemporary Somali culture.  In her presentation, she emphasized the role family, community and good role models can have on the lives of young people.

Dr Nauja Kleist, Project senior researcher, Migration Unit Danish Institute for International studies and Dr Rima Berns-Mcgown, Phd, Centre for Diaspora and Transitional Studies and Department of Historical Studies – University of Toronto presented a through research on Somali Communities in the Diaspora depicting many challenges facing and their participation in the social affairs of their adopted countries.

Keynote Speaker: Amanda Lindhout, Canadian Journalist and Former Hostage, moved beyond 15 months of unimaginable hardship to relate her unique perspective on the depravation caused by lingering war and conflict upon Somali women. Ms Lindhout called for the support of women’s rights to education by encouraging everyone to play a role in creating sustainable change inside Somalia.

Conference delegates addressed growing and dangerous trend of Somali Youth involving criminal gang activities in Canada and United States. In the past five years more than 37 young Somali men were murdered in Canada alone. This necessitates the need to have open and frank discussions on these matters. Community members accepted to that silence and ignorance are no longer available options.

Discussing the way forward, Somalia Diaspora representatives agreed the need to create synergy among its members and adopted to form a Somalia Contact Group, a networking and information sharing platform. This outreach will lead to a higher level of trust and communication to help our Youth realize keeping the peace and reject allure to extremism. Upon returning to their communities representatives will mobilize their country and regional members to share the outcome of the conference and the need for an immediate attention for the promotion of peaceful coexistence and prevention of radicalization.

Other topics include:

Video: Impact of Youth radicalization on the Somali Diaspora Families and Communities: Farhia Absie, Freelance Journalist

Radicalization in Canada: Young men and Jihadi Narrative

Michael King, PhD Candidate, McGill University

Countering Youth Radicalization – Prof David Shin, Elliott School of Int’l Affairs and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Ph.D, Candidate – Director of the Centre for the study of Terrorist Radicalization

Elelments and Protocols  for De-Radicalization and Social Cohesion Programs:

Dr Elaine Pressman, Senior Research Fellow, Canadian Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies (CCISS)

Forging and Effective Counterterrorism Strategies between Somali Diaspora Communities and Respective Agencies:

Abdirazak Farah, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, U.S Department of Homeland Security

Symposium: Building an integrated, socially responsible Somali Diaspora who respect core democaratic values

The connection between Identity and Radicalization and What to do about it:

Rima Berns-McGowan, Phd

Building an Integrated Socially Cohesive Society:

Andrew Griffith, Director of Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Master Ceremony

Abdulkadir Khalif Abdi, Ottawa Police Officer


Somali Diaspora Community – Canada, USA, UK, Sweden, Holland, Denmark and Norway

For more participants:  http://canadianfriendsofsomalia.org/

P.S: A Detailed report of the Conference and its recommendations will be released soon.

Venue: National Arts Centre December 6 – 7, 2010 – 53 Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario

About this article, contact:
Abdirahman W. Abdi

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1 Jawaab " Canada: “Promotion of Peace and Prevention of Youth radicalization” "

  1. Abuukar says:

    We have to know what is exactly redical, we have to undarstand redicalization and it is definition, who is a redical. Mostly westerns express to Muslim Community that is why they are conducting this activity, and inviting to somalis and other Muslim people over there.
    Let us talk more, loby and spend more time to prasuate to non-muslims, and promote any Muslim must apply his/her religion as it’s. we should mention also that we supposed to deal people in best way and tolerate, respect to their religion, and sects.