New anti-radicalization center on the South Shore - with a twist

A new anti-radicalization initiative has been created by some CEGEPs in the Montérégie aimed at educating Quebeckers about the phenomenon and dispelling the myths in a bid to to help try to prevent it.

The new Centre d'expertise et de formation sur les intégrismes religieux et la radicalisation (CEFIR) was set up by CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit, CEGEP de Saint-Hyacinthe and CEGEP de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The St. Jean military college is also involved.

The center was made possible by a $240,000 grant from the Social Services and Humanities Research Council of Canada to Martin Geoffroy, a sociology professor at CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit who will head up the center.

Geoffroy said the center will not be like other centers such as the one in Montreal which has a tip line and social workers. He said it will focus on research and expertise that it will share with schools, teachers, managers and community groups.

"Our mandate is not to prevent (radicalization itself). Our mandate is to give the tools to everybody in Quebec to prevent it," said Geoffroy at a news conference.

Geoffroy said they also want to help dispel misconceptions about radicalization to promote more awareness and understanding about it, adding that religious fundamentalism can be observed not only in the Muslim faith but in others as well.

Geoffroy said they'll be setting up a website, circulating surveys, conducting interviews and forming a team of experts to create a data base and offer training about radicalization and what leads to it. The center will officially open next Monday.