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Religious Youth Radicalization in Canada Dr. Paul Bramadat (University of Winnipeg) and Dr. Scot Wortley (University of Toronto) Prepared for The Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Religious Youth Radicalization in Canada Dr. Paul Bramadat (University of Winnipeg) and Dr. Scot Wortley (University of Toronto) Prepared for The Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religious Youth Radicalization in Canada Dr. Paul Bramadat (University of Winnipeg) and Dr. Scot Wortley (University of Toronto) Prepared for The Department of Canadian Heritage Multiculturalism and Human Rights Branch February 2008

2 Purpose of Project: to investigate the empirical data that exists on religious youth radicalization, and to thematize the question so other scholars and policy analysts might continue to address some of the broader issues to investigate the empirical data that exists on religious youth radicalization, and to thematize the question so other scholars and policy analysts might continue to address some of the broader issues

3 Methodology: literature reviews literature reviews outline of the arguments for and against violence outline of the arguments for and against violence study of the radical sensibilities evident in in-group websites study of the radical sensibilities evident in in-group websites

4 Terms of reference: Youth: Youth: Religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism Religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism Religious radicalization: those who explicitly link their religious and radical convictions Religious radicalization: those who explicitly link their religious and radical convictions

5 Historical subtext: What is perhaps new: the intersection between: age-old anxieties about youth, and age-old anxieties about youth, and new anxieties about the state of secularism new anxieties about the state of secularism

6 The Problem: in the 1970s and 1980s, we saw a concern over cults in the 1970s and 1980s, we saw a concern over cults the concern now (among parents, policy makers, and religious moderates) is not that alienated youth might become Moonies the concern now (among parents, policy makers, and religious moderates) is not that alienated youth might become Moonies the concern is that youth might be drawn into radicalized forms of Christianity, Islam, etc. the concern is that youth might be drawn into radicalized forms of Christianity, Islam, etc.

7 Background: the classic secularization hypothesis has not stood up well empirically or historically the classic secularization hypothesis has not stood up well empirically or historically indeed, in some places in the West religion has returned with a vengeance indeed, in some places in the West religion has returned with a vengeance

8 both empirical evidence and common sense from the last years tell us that religion is alive and well, though greatly transformed both empirical evidence and common sense from the last years tell us that religion is alive and well, though greatly transformed the secularization hypothesis remains a crucial component of the ideology of secularism the secularization hypothesis remains a crucial component of the ideology of secularism public and political discourse about religion in the West is full of dire predictions about the consequences of abandoning secularism public and political discourse about religion in the West is full of dire predictions about the consequences of abandoning secularism

9 but now we ask: what might happen to youth if they enter a world in which religion doesnt know its place? but now we ask: what might happen to youth if they enter a world in which religion doesnt know its place?

10 many people worry that particular religions might be more or less suited to liberal democratic societies many people worry that particular religions might be more or less suited to liberal democratic societies however, all religions have been associated with both violent and non- violent texts, figures, movements, and ideas however, all religions have been associated with both violent and non- violent texts, figures, movements, and ideas this should make us reluctant to argue that any religion is inherently inclined toward violence this should make us reluctant to argue that any religion is inherently inclined toward violence

11 Obstacles to Grappling with Religious Youth Radicalization: First, two essentialisms: First, two essentialisms: 1. religions are or a particular religion is inherently violent or illiberal 1. religions are or a particular religion is inherently violent or illiberal 2. religions are essentially non-violent and only appear to be violent when hijacked by political or economic movements 2. religions are essentially non-violent and only appear to be violent when hijacked by political or economic movements

12 Neither essentialism is warranted, since: Neither essentialism is warranted, since: 1. all religions have been prone to both violence and non-violence 1. all religions have been prone to both violence and non-violence 2. it is a secularist conceit to assume that stated religious motivations always mask other or real motivations 2. it is a secularist conceit to assume that stated religious motivations always mask other or real motivations

13 once the burden was only on religious people to translate their religious convictions into neutral secular concepts once the burden was only on religious people to translate their religious convictions into neutral secular concepts now the burden is also on non-religious people to translate their convictions into terms that religious people can engage now the burden is also on non-religious people to translate their convictions into terms that religious people can engage

14 The second obstacle: The second obstacle: scholars and policy makers are beginning to realize that many people in Western societies are religiously illiterate and unable to respond to these issues scholars and policy makers are beginning to realize that many people in Western societies are religiously illiterate and unable to respond to these issues

15 religious youth radicalization in Canada is barely addressed in the academic or policy literature religious youth radicalization in Canada is barely addressed in the academic or policy literature the phenomenon is far less prevalent than many of us think the phenomenon is far less prevalent than many of us think however, it does exist, and we need to think about how to address it however, it does exist, and we need to think about how to address it Conclusions

16 it stems from feelings of alienation, perceptions of persecution and the unfairness of the social order it stems from feelings of alienation, perceptions of persecution and the unfairness of the social order as such, we need to focus our efforts on including all youth in Canadian society as such, we need to focus our efforts on including all youth in Canadian society perhaps we need to reach out specifically to religious youth (as we have to visible minority youth) perhaps we need to reach out specifically to religious youth (as we have to visible minority youth)

17 widespread religious illiteracy and the on- going popularity of secularism must be addressed, perhaps by public education campaigns and mandatory high school courses about religion widespread religious illiteracy and the on- going popularity of secularism must be addressed, perhaps by public education campaigns and mandatory high school courses about religion

18 secularism is deeply entrenched among our elites, but the openness of federal policy makers to religion is a good sign secularism is deeply entrenched among our elites, but the openness of federal policy makers to religion is a good sign so is the increasing sophistication of legal scholarship on this matter so is the increasing sophistication of legal scholarship on this matter so are discussions around reasonable accommodation so are discussions around reasonable accommodation


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