Islamophobia is often a byproduct of media reports of homegrown terrorism
Expect the recent CBC News report that two Canadians were part of a jihadist attack in Algeria to set off a new wave of Islamophobia in right-wing media outlets.
That's despite a growing evidence that politics, not religion, is often the primary force driving young people in the West to join violent Islamist groups.
Two 24-year-old men from London, Ontario—Xris Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej—were among the extremists who died in an assault that killed 37 workers at a gas plant in Algeria.
Katsiroubas reportedly converted to Islam from the Greek Orthodox Church.
Last night on CBC TV, the former deputy head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Ray Boisvert, explained to Peter Mansbridge that homegrown terrorism is not isolated to any one ethnic or religious community.
Boisvert pointed out that these young extremists are attracted to violence for many reasons, ranging from an adrenaline boost to carving out an identity. They also have a religious and political motivation, but in Boisvert's view, "it's mostly political."
This has also been demonstrated in research by Britain's intelligence agency, MI5, which was highlighted in Doug Saunders's 2012 book The Myth of the Muslim Tide.
After studying several hundred people associated with violent extremism including suicide bombing, Mi5 concluded that they fit no single demographic profile and most were "religious novices".
"Rather than intense monastic religious devotees, they tend to be non-faithful individuals who are drawn to radical peer groups for political or personal, but not religious reasons," Saunders wrote.
Richard Reid, the notorious British shoe bomber who tried to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2002, was of mixed white and Jamaican heritage. He reportedly converted to Islam while in jail for theft. This came after his father told him that Muslims get better food behind bars.
Meanwhile, surveys have shown that Muslim youths across Canada sometimes feel under siege whenever there's an upswing in concern over Islamic radicalism or a rise in Islamophobia.
Jasmine Zine, an associate professor of sociology at Wilfred Laurier University, noted last year that many of the Muslim youths she has interviewed have reported a feeling of being under surveillance. She emphasized in her presentation to the W2 Media Café that their preferred tool of political resistance is artistic expression.
If the past offers any lessons, they're likely to seize onto the latest news of homegrown terrorism to call for a curtailment of civil liberties while promoting a fear of Muslims.
Ironically, Saunders reported that Muslims themselves have often been "the most effective forces" in combatting terrorist movements.
"In Britain, London's Metropolitan Police successfully purged the Finsbury Park mosque of al Qaeda–linked sympathizers and activists by working closely with Salafist groups prevalent in the community," he wrote in The Myth of the Muslim Tide. "Scotland Yard found that the Salafists (who seek a theocratic Muslim state through political means) had both the most detailed knowledge of fellow immigrants who were susceptible to terrorist radicalization and also the strongest determination to keep violent and jihadist tendencies out of their mosque."
Somehow, I doubt this will get mentioned in any rants by Ezra Levant.