Echoes of Terror(ism)

The Mutability and Contradictions of Countering Violent Extremism in Québec




radicalization, violent extremism, education, risk, resilience, Québec


Our paper examines the latest frontier of the “War on Terror,” countering violent extremism (CVE), non-coercive approaches that aim to prevent “radicalization” that may lead to “violent extremism” or terrorism. We look at the recent implementation of CVE in Québec’s education sector. Based on an analysis of key policy documents and interviews with CVE practitioners, we find that: (1) teachers are responsibilized to safeguard society from the risk of terrorism through being expected to “know the signs” of radicalization and to build “resilience,” (2) students are responsibilized as agents who can influence their peers against violent extremist messaging and toward “prosocial” behaviour, and (3) elements of school curriculum are responsibilized, especially social studies education, to provide students with “critical thinking” skills thought to be lacking among those at risk of radicalization. We highlight the inherent contradictions in CVE, which, in Québec, claims to foster pluralism and inclusivity to combat Islamophobia, but as a modality of the “War on Terror” also targets and stigmatizes Muslim communities. Critical discussion of CVE’s social implications are needed to initiate critical dialogue in Canada over the impact of CVE in social services provision and the risk of securitizing the education sector in Québec.