Three mothers of young people believed to have wanted to join the jihad tell their personal drama

  • Photo Chantal Poirier
    The three women met with The Newspaper in a local Center for the prevention of radicalization dream of their family life resumes its normal course.

    Benoît Philie

    Saturday, 1 July 2017 07:30

    Saturday, 1 July 2017 07:30

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    Fatima, Linda, and Amina have one thing in common. Their children have been arrested together in 2015 by the RCMP, who suspected them of wanting to leave to wage jihad, and they did not see it coming.

    The eldest of Amina succeeded in school and the son of Linda was doing her prayers, and went to the mosque as usual. The daughter of Fatima, for its part, had begun to wear the veil, but there was nothing to suggest that she was going to leave the country.

    The three mothers muslim of arab origin recounted for the first time in the Journal the shock they have experienced, in order to avoid that others live the same drama.

    In solidarity, they met in a local Center for the prevention of radicalization leading to violence (CPRMV), to Montreal, to make the point, two years after.

    “I was shot down. It has been a nightmare, tells the story of Linda, the hair hidden under a veil of colour. I have experienced very difficult times. I was sleeping more. I was faced with this situation all alone. My husband was not well either, he lost his job, did a burn-out… and not everything is finished”

    The three women agreed to speak with The Newspaper on the condition to be able to conceal their identity and their age so as not to attract attention to their families already hard-hit by crises, but also to prevent harm to their children, who are always the object of an investigation.

    Tempted by the jihad

    They were arrested by the royal Canadian mounted police (RCMP) in may 2015 at the airport Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal with seven other teenagers just before take-off. They were questioned and then released a few hours later. In the following days, searches were conducted at their homes. Their passports are still being confiscated, two years later.

    We suspected them of wanting to go to Syria or Iraq through Turkey. Most of them had told their parents they were going to visit Italy.

    To this day, no charges have yet been laid against the youth, but families pay always the price, as evidenced by the loss of jobs of parents, the quarrels of the couple and the dissensions between brothers and sisters.

    According to the director of the CPRMV, Herman Deparice-Okomba, everyone is a victim in this story.

    “These are young people who have been brainwashed and manipulated by agents of radicalization that made them believe and sparkle things. They have exploited the public debates, such as the Charter of québec values, to say : see, we don’t like you here. It is better elsewhere,” he explains.

    Today, young people are all to school, have jobs and are involved in the CPRMV.

    “They have taken the normal course of their lives, because they understood that they had not the absolute truth, and also because the parents have done a great job”, said Mr. Deparice-Okomba.


    The degrees of radicalization

    The CPRMV has developed a barometer to measure the different degrees of radicalization. In the case of young people arrested by the RCMP in 2015, the director of the centre believes that they were all rendered to an alarming level.


    Behaviors associated with political engagement, religious, or community and associated with peaceful actions and democratic.

    • Argue with fervor
    • Wear visible signs of membership
    • Desire to correct social injustices


    Identification growing to a cause or an ideology that leads to deep change in his behavior and reflects a lack of well-being.

    • Break with a family practice
    • Begin to isolate themselves from his entourage
    • Feeling of rejection and victimization


    Increasing distrust of the outside world and the discourse legitimizing violence as a means to advance a cause.

    • To break with his family and they hide a style of life or allegiance
    • Lose interest and suddenly the activities at work or school
    • Get closer to individuals or groups recognized as extremist


    Allegiance exclusive and sectarian ideology that leads to violence as the only means of action.

    • Participate in the activities of extremist groups, violent or going to individuals recognized as being violent radicals
    • Recruit people in the name of a cause extremist violent
    • Planning a trip in areas of conflict


    “It’s better that she goes to the mosque rather than at the bar”, believed his mother

    Photo Chantal Poirier

    Click here to read the testimony


    It is because of the values Charter, said a mother

    Photo Chantal Poirier

    Click here to read the testimony


    She believed that her son was in New York

    Photo Chantal Poirier

    Click here to read the testimony


    A COMIC inspired by their testimonies

    Photo Benoît Philie

    The young people arrested by the RCMP in 2015 almost all of us started to attend the Center for the prevention of radicalization leading to violence a few months after their arrest. According to director Herman Deparice-Okomba, a first of them came voluntarily seek support, and then as other young people of the same group are arrived. For nearly a year and a half, they become involved in the centre and participate in the creation of projects for the prevention of radicalisation. A comic book inspired by their stories has been distributed in Québec schools and community organizations last year. They have chosen to tell their story in reference to Star Wars in order to avoid the targeting of a form of radicalism in particular. Here is a page of the COMIC entitled Radicalishow.


    Preventing the radicalization leading to violence

    A first in North America, the Center for the prevention of radicalization leading to violence (CPRMV) was established in Montreal in 2015 by the City and the government of Quebec in response to the multiplication of cases of radicalization around the world. A total of$ 2 Million has been invested to create the center, whose mission is to prevent any form of violence related to religious, political, or ideological. Although the religious radicalism represents 70 % of cases in the CPRMV, more and more people come for behaviors disturbing associated with positions of extreme right and anti-immigration, supports the centre’s director, Herman Deparice-Okomba.


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