The director of the Prevention of Radicalisation in Canada, Herman Okomba-Deparice, has highlighted the Algerian experience against radicalisation as an important model for research that will help the centre's own efforts.
Attending an international conference on the fight against violent radicalisation in Algiers today, Okomba-Deparice joined Algerian officials to learn from the people's "determination to fight against violent radicalisation" particularly in training imams against extremism.
"I am here to learn [about] training imams [and] school-based prevention programmes…particularly the Algerian approach that promotes a tolerant Islam to strengthen living together." Though the Algerian experience with radicalisation is very different to Canada's, Okomba-Deparice believes learning from each other's expertise will provide a collaboration best equipped to "fight against the polarising discourse".
Canada is home to around 50,000 Algerians who reside mainly around French-speaking Montreal. "The experience of Algeria in the fight against violent extremism clearly demonstrates that education and the balance between security and preventive approaches are the antidotes to this threat," Okomba-Deparice explained.
The conference held in Algeria comes in light of recent efforts by the French Republican Party to pass a bill to the National Assembly to prohibit any foreign financing of mosques in France or recruitment of imams abroad. The proposal is an attempt to enforce stricter secular French values, harbour greater respect for state sovereignty and prevent any collaboration with "foreign powers" to influence Islamic activities on the ground.
The Algerian government annually pays €4 million ($4.5 million) to religious institutions and has sent around 120 trained imams.