Examining the Extreme: The Causes and Tools of Radicalisation
The Intercultural Dialogue Institute Edmonton organized a panel discussion on the Causes and Tools of Radicalisation at Jefferson’s Armoury in Edmonton. The attendees included academicians, cultural community leaders, religious community leaders, educators, and representatives from NGO’s. Edmonton Police Service and the Loyal Edmonton Regiment proudly sponsored the event. Speakers for the panel were Dr. Sandra Bucerius from University of Alberta, Cpl. Mark Osedowski, Community Outreach Liasion, RCMP and Inspector Dan Jones from Edmonton Police Service. The topic of the panel was “Examining the Extreme: The Causes and Tools of Radicalisation. Attendees had a chance to ask their questions during Q&A Session. At the end of the panel everyone enjoyed light refreshments while brainstorming on solution for Radicalisation.

Please visit IDI Edmonton Facebook Page for more photos.

Intercultural Dialogue Institute Edmonton – Panel Discussion Wrap-Up

Examining the Extreme – The Causes and Tools of Radicalisation

On October 28, 2015, Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) partnered with Edmonton Police and the Loyalty Edmonton Regiment to hold a discussion panel on the understandings and responses to radicalism and extremism across various facets of community within Edmonton. The event was held at the James Curry Jefferson Armoury and drew a significant audience including City representatives, local media, students, and residents from across Edmonton.

The expertise of the panel members was the most important drawcard of the event. Our three subject matter experts were able to highlight a number of important tools, studies, and programs that show how the concept of radicalism interacts amongst contemporary society, but also how a community such as Edmonton is well positioned to identify challenges going forward. The panel spoke in depth about how ‘identity’ is integral in framing discussions on this issue. Radicalism is born out of a perceived or actual injustice, and it is up to community as a whole to ensure ones identity is not attacked in a way that removes them from a positive interpretation of reality. Assuring the security and respect of an individual’s identity, means that their sense of ‘belonging’ is strengthened and grievances are limited.

Please see the below links that show transcripts of speeches from the panel members:
Dr. Sandra Bucerius; Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology, University of Alberta
Dan Jones; Investigator, Edmonton Police – Investigative Support Branch
Mark Osedowski; Community Outreach Liaison, Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, RCMP

While it was important for panel members to provide conceptual and action-related takeaways about how do address radicalism and extremism within our community and how best engage those who may be vulnerable to an ideological mindset that contravenes social harmony, we were most concerned with the feedback from participants that would help build an ‘action plan’ for IDI to use as a youth-based educational concept.

We asked participants for feedback on a variety of questions. We raised the following questions: what are key factors that ‘push’ an individual to an extreme or radical mindset; what do extreme narratives offer an individual that ‘pull’ them towards a certain way of thinking or behavior; and what can the wider community do to prevent people from becoming ‘radicalized’, reach out to those who have engaged with extreme ideologies, and prevent the threat or use of violence.

The feedback we received was encouraging, insightful, and very positive. We identified a number of factors that initiate the ‘push’ towards a radical mindset. These included identity challenges, cognitive dissonance (notably between democracy and religious repression), exclusivist ideology, online indoctrination, lack of stimulation, disrespect of culture and religion, economic difficulties, and peer group pressure. Participants outlined the following themes as important to understand the ‘pull’ of extreme narratives: solidarity, sense of belonging, sanctuary, revival of a unified identity – solidifying the notion of ‘us’, defiance, strict scriptural adherence, potential economic reward, a ‘voice’. Finally, responses from participants highlighted the many things we can do as a community to address the onset of radicalism and extremism and prevent a turn to violence. Creating an environment of respect, open-mindedness, and cultural appreciation is paramount. This will help prevent xenophobia and racism, stop excommunication and build the sense of trust. Action should be focused on positive resilience and relationships with authority and community where there is a mutual belief in each other. In summary, those who are marginalized and potentially at risk must be involved in and constructive opportunities where frustrations can be vented in a receptive environment.

In light of recent events across the world – from Mali to Iraq and Syria, Lebanon to France – the more ‘we’ begin to address, discuss and understand these concepts as a community, the more inclusive and accepting we become as a society. Identity recognition and appreciation, and creating a sense of belonging for all people through education and awareness will be the focus of IDI as we look to develop and implement an ‘action plan’ that will have a positive effect on community in Edmonton.