“…When Djemila Benhabib heard about the Montreal students heading off to jihad, she immediately recognized the story. She lived next to it.
Ms. Benhabib grew up in Algeria and was in her late teens when she first noticed neighbourhood boys disappearing. They were off to join Islamist fighters in the Algerian civil war. In 1994, she fled the country with her family and became an influential anti-fundamentalist writer.
While Western societies engage in endless self-analysis, Ms. Benhabib is not convinced Quebec’s regular drumbeat of stories about conflicts between religious minorities and the wider community have had a corrosive effect. The problem, she says, is that people like Mr. Charkaoui politicize Islam in a way that turns Western, democratic countries into an enemy, creating a hothouse atmosphere perfect for growing radicalization.
“A lot of mosques are no longer just places of worship,” she said. “They’ve been diverted from their mission toward ideology and politics. They talk non-stop about the Palestinian cause. They talk non-stop about Jews, apostates, even about westernized Muslims who don’t share their view. A youth who is rebelling against his parents, the environment, the media and needs a cause suddenly has it.”
By and large the article is pretty good, superior even for the passage excerpted above, still it falls short of pressing those interviewed on hard questions.
Interesting fact from the article – Toronto’s Muslim Population is 7.7%, Montreal’s is 6%.