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Welcome Back to Canada for ISIS Jihadis?

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(Photo: John Li/Getty Images)
(Photo: John Li/Getty Images)

Are ISIS jihadis being welcomed back to Canada without consequences?

Nearly 180 Canadians are known to have traveled overseas to join extremist groups says Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale. About 60 have returned to Canada, according to government figures released in 2016.

Goodale has said that the chance of rehabilitating them is “pretty remote.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to disagree, suggesting that these brutal jihadis can be reformed through reintegration support.”

“We know that actually someone who has engaged and turned away from … hateful ideology can be an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalization,” the PM said about those who may return to Canada after setting off and joining the ranks of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

I don’t know if this is naivety or wishful thinking, but it certainly is a cause for concern for many Canadians.

If we are to believe that our justice system that is fair, then these returning fighters should be tried in court for treason and murder. Only once they have undergone due process should there be a discussion about rehabilitating them, if that is all possible. As the saying goes, “If you do the crime, do the time.”

Every country takes criminality very seriously. Are jihadis not a criminals? They have attacked places and people all over the world; they have beheaded, taken sex slaves and perpetuated multiple horrors on fellow citizens. Is this not criminal? Then why a different set of rules for them?

What example will we be setting for other wannabe jihadis if all we do is try and rehabilitate them without putting them through the justice system? There has to be some punishment for those who willingly join ISIS and terrorize innocent people.

However, it is worth noting that instead of having to embark on the task of rehabilitation, the best way to address radicalization is to stop it from ever happening in the first place.

To this end, Clarion Project is initiating training programs on Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) to stem the tide of radicalization by reaching potential recruits before they come to the end of the conveyer belt where they are fully radicalized.

But with regards to those returning jihadis, I hope that our prime minister can understand how dangerous it is to let murderers loose among masses of citizens.

 

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Raheel Raza

Raheel Raza is ​an adviser to Clarion Project. ​She is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker on the topics of jihad and sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.