As violent extremist attacks seem to occur more and more frequently and our communities become polarized by divisive rhetoric and Islamophobia, it is important that we reflect on the factors that may drive an individual to join such a group.
In this article, “Safety in Belonging,” Kim Samuel draws on a conversation with a friend, Sabrina Sassi, a young researcher on violent extremism at l’Université Laval. Sabrina explains that extremist groups often offer a sense of belonging that a young person is unable to find in mainstream society. By exploring examples that failed and succeeded, Kim advocates for approaches to combatting extremism that rest not on an ‘us-versus-them’ mentality, but that are grounded in respect, recognition and youth empowerment. This is not an easy approach to take, but it starts with all of us; by calling out exclusion and expanding our circle of compassion.