Concerns have been raised about the lack of political engagement of Canadian youth. During the federal election, voting flash mobs at Canadian universities were seen as a way to get young voters excited and eager to vote.
Unfortunately, most efforts to engage youth have been initiated by groups and organizations that I feel do not reflect the ethno-cultural diversity of Canada's major cities. As an activist in Ottawa's Muslim communities who is passionate about civic engagement, I wanted to take a lead in addressing what I've seen as a lack of engagement among young Muslims of voting age.
On the eve of the second decade of the new century, a renewed alliance between young and old would help Canadians trying to make a better life for more citizens. Much of current public policy debate turns around attempts to foster irrational fears about what the future holds. A prime example is attempts to manipulate public opinion by evoking threats an aging population pose for our public healthcare system. The next generation will stagger around covering the debts incurred to look after the health (and income) needs of retirees; we are told this so often people start to believe it.
Scare headlines about young people becoming "radicalized," going overseas, being transformed into robotic Super Muslims, graduating from Beheading School, and being returned to Canada ready to strike at the heart of our values, freedoms, and traditions have filled the media in the past few months, leading to an upcoming Canadian campaign of bombing Iraq and repressive new legislation to be introduced this week in Parliament.
Given the Fourth Estate's role as stenographer to power, it is unsurprising that the many articles asking "why" young people are attracted to overseas adventures are all playing into the same "blame Islam" game that results in horrible "jihad" headlines, increased fear, and suspicion of anyone who does not look like the CBC's Peter Whitemansbridge.
Mo3, as friends knew him -- Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud -- from Hamilton and long before that Somalia, died this week in Syria, possibly fighting for ISIS. He was 20. He'd been a bright kid, on student council, got involved in religion, then politics. Sounds familiar. Oh wait, that would be me in high school and the years after. These young people aren't monsters and haven't had their brains or bodies snatched. They're going through adolescence. It's dicey.