Toronto youth ‘brainwashed’ with extremist views of Islam, report says - thestar.com
Muslim youth say extremism is on the rise and that “brainwashing” is taking place in Toronto, according to a two-year international study on homegrown terrorism that will be released Wednesday.
Researchers with a UK-based think-tank studied the differences between violent and non-violent Islamic radicals across Europe and Canada — including the so-called Toronto 18 terror cell — and conducted focus groups in Toronto and Montreal with about 70 Muslim youth last year.
One focus group in Toronto made up of young men between the ages of 18 and 30, “was unanimous that brainwashing was taking place,” says the 250-page report, titled The Edge of Violence.
Pamphlets containing extremist views were being handed out in downtown public spaces, such as outside Toronto Eaton Centre, they said.
But while the literature promoted an extreme interpretation of Islam, there wasn’t an overtly violent element to it, said Jonathan Birdwell, one of the authors of the report by Demos, a think-tank focused on power and politics.
“I recall young people talking about brainwashing and I thought it was interesting that they put it in those terms,” said Birdwell, who was in town last weekend with co-author Jamie Bartlett to present their findings to members of the Muslim community.