Group stunned RCMP pulled support from anti-terrorism handbook
Police force says it can't support 'adversarial tone' in parts of anti-terrorism booklet
The RCMP has pulled its support from a handbook aimed at stopping young Canadians from being recruited by extremist groups, saying parts of the booklet have an "adversarial tone."
The police force is listed as a contributor in the handbook, titled United Against Terrorism: A Collaborative Effort Towards a Secure, Inclusive and Just Canada.
The publication was written by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Islamic Social Services Association. It was released at a Winnipeg mosque on Monday.
But in a statement issued late Tuesday, the RCMP said it is no longer supporting the project.
"After a final review of the handbook, the RCMP could not support the adversarial tone set by elements of the booklet and therefore directed RCMP Manitoba not to proceed with this initiative," the statement said.
The RCMP did not elaborate on its concerns regarding the handbook.
The 38-page handbook is directed mainly at Muslims, asking readers what Islam requires from Muslim citizens in a non-Muslim country and stressing the duty to follow the law of the land.
The RCMP contributed to a section titled "Understanding radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security."
On Tuesday, the police force noted that it's not responsible for the material in the rest of the booklet.
Section four of the booklet talks about rights and liberties for Canadian Muslims.
"Your co-operation with CSIS/RCMP is voluntary. You have no obligation to talk to CSIS/RCMP, even if you are a citizen. Refusing to answer questions cannot be held against you, nor does it imply that you have something to hide. If you choose to answer questions, it is advisable to have a lawyer present. It is best to arrange for a lawyer to contact the agent on your behalf. You do not have to permit CSIS/RCMP representatives into your home or office. They must possess a search warrant in order to enter your property," the booklet said.
In a joint statement, the Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims pointed out that the handbook includes a disclaimer that says: "Contributors are only responsible for their respective contributions and do not necessarily endorse other material contained in this publication.
"This is a handbook for use by Canadian Muslim communities to help them identify radicalization, prevent violent extremism, build civic engagement and uphold civil rights. Canadian Muslims are entitled, like all other Canadians, to know their legal rights when interacting with law enforcement. This is a basic Canadian and core democratic concept which we all uphold," the groups' statement reads in part.
"Our recommendations to security agencies are based on years of direct experience with grassroots communities and the concerns aired by Canadian Muslims during local town hall forums in 2013 in the presence of law enforcement participants," the statement added.
On Wednesday, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) also expressed its surprise over the RCMP reaction.
“We have received no clarification from the RCMP regarding which passages they object to. In fact, we had no idea that they had any concerns with the content of the handbook until they issued their statement,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the NCCM.
“From the very beginning, this has been a collaborative effort between the RCMP, NCCM, and ISSA. There were many opportunities presented for all parties to vet the contents of the handbook and offer feedback. And we’re still open to any feedback they have.”
Manitoba's justice minister still supports effort
Manitoba's justice minister says he has no issues with a "United Against Terrorism Hand book" unveiled in Winnipeg this week.
Andrew Swan was at the launch. He said Wednesday he still fully supports the handbook.
"I've had a look at the booklet, and again, it's in many ways very similar to the way we've tried to make parents and communities aware of the risk of gangs."
Swan praised the Muslim community for taking action.
"Manitoba is an incredibly diverse place and various communities want to make it clear that they are part of the larger community," he said. "I didn't see anything that would go outside those bounds."
Winnipeg police wouldn't comment, Wednesday about the RCMP's pulling out, even though Chief Devon Clunis was at the launch of the handbook Tuesday.
RCMP's full response
Below is the full text of the RCMP's response, issued Tuesday, regarding the United Against Terrorism handbook:
The safety and security of citizens is of the utmost importance to the RCMP, and we take any threat to the security of Canadians and their livelihood seriously.
The RCMP has a longstanding relationship established with the communities it serves and for the past several years, it has been building trust with the communities through its national security community outreach program.
The RCMP contributed to Section 3 of the handbook entitled "Understanding Radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security". We are not responsible for other material contained in this publication.
After a final review of the handbook, the RCMP could not support the adversarial tone set by elements of the booklet and therefore directed RCMP Manitoba not to proceed with this initiative.
Any questions regarding the distribution, use or intention of the booklet should be directed to the authors, the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Islamic Social Services Association.
Source: RCMP newsroom
Below is the full text of the response from the Islamic Social Services Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims to the RCMP's statement:
The Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) issue the following joint statement in response to recent remarks by the RCMP with respect to the United Against Terrorism handbook which was released on September 29th at the Winnipeg Central Mosque.
"We greatly commend and appreciate the RCMP's contributions to this important tool in the struggle against violent extremism. Since Monday, we have received enthusiastic support for this initiative from Canadians across the country and countless requests to distribute the handbook in our diverse communities.
"This initiative has been a true success as it brought law enforcement, community leaders and Canadian Muslim communities together with a common focus on safeguarding Canada and addressing youth radicalization towards criminal violence. The handbook does take an adversarial stance against violent extremists and those who seek to recruit and radicalize Canadian youth towards criminal violence.
"As might be expected, the content of the handbook was shared with all contributors for constructive feedback throughout the 14 month development process. All feedback received was incorporated. The handbook also contains a clear disclaimer on page 1 that states: 'Contributors are only responsible for their respective contributions and do not necessarily endorse other material contained in this publication.'
"This is a handbook for use by Canadian Muslim communities to help them identify radicalization, prevent violent extremism, build civic engagement and uphold civil rights. Canadian Muslims are entitled, like all other Canadians, to know their legal rights when interacting with law enforcement. This is a basic Canadian and core democratic concept which we all uphold. Our recommendations to security agencies are based on years of direct experience with grassroots communities and the concerns aired by Canadian Muslims during local town hall forums in 2013 in the presence of law enforcement participants.
"We look forward to working with all of the contributors in challenging violent extremism and building a more secure, inclusive and just Canada."