Australian Muslim leader blasts govt's deradicalisation drive

July 22, 2015 08:41

A prominent Australian Muslim leader criticized the government's $1 billion program to deradicalise Muslim youths on Wednesday, saying it put too much emphasis on law enforcement and not enough on factors that drive young people to fight overseas.

About 100 Australians are fighting in Iraq and Syria but Samier Dandan, president of Australia's Lebanese Muslim Association, branded the conservative government's 9-month-old program to stop the flow of radicalized Muslims "a mess."

The problem is faced by many Western countries, especially members of U.S.-led coalitions that fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to unveil a five-year counter-extremism strategy he described as "struggle of our generation."

"Almost universally, research points to the enormous influence that wider social, economic and political issues have on the process of radicalization," Dandan said.

"Yet, the focus of the government's strategy seems to rest heavily on how best it can strip people of their rights in the name of 'security'," he wrote in an opinion piece shown to Reuters before it was published later on Wednesday.

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