Excerpt: “The fundamentalists want us to think it is a war between Muslims and the West, but it is not a clash of civilizations. We all need to stand together.”
The city’s Muslim community is struggling with reports last week that three young Somalis from Edmonton were killed while fighting overseas for the terrorist group Islamic State, said Azim Jeraj, a prominent leader in the Ismaili community.
“These are challenging times and most people just want to understand why this is happening,” said Jeraj.
The problem of alienated young men in Canadian society and among immigrant communities is not entirely new, he added. In past decades, they would have joined street gangs in local communities.
But through the Internet, young men are lured to “global gangs” like ISIS and they go overseas beyond parental control, he said.
Also, many young immigrants coming to Canada in recent years have spent time in refugee camps adding to their difficulties finding a way in a new country, said Jeraj. “Their lives have been broken for a long time,” he added.
Helping them means finding out what they need, he said. “We don’t do enough listening to what their challenges are.”
The Ismaili community has had a lot of success assisting Afghan families coming here from refugee camps, he said. Each Afghan family was paired off with a well-established Ismaili family and “they work together one-on-one.”
“The model seems to work.”
While religious leaders in Edmonton are probing why young men turned to extremism, the broader Edmonton community has to become engaged in this conversation too, said Jeraj.
BY SHEILA PRATT, EDMONTON JOURNAL JANUARY 18, 2015
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