THE BLOG
10/29/2014 04:29 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2014

The Rise of Extremism : A Perplexing Phenomenon

Last week, two separate attacks against Canadian soldiers jolted the peaceful and serene psyche of the country. The shocking murders were carried out by two Canadian-born "lone wolves" who had converted to Islam but who have not been shown to belong to any specific international organizations.

On Wednesday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo as he stood guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, and then stormed into Canada's Parliament where he died in a gunfight with parliamentary security and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The attack occurred just two days after Martin Couture-Rouleau rammed his car into two members of Canada's Armed Forces in a parking lot in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, resulting in the death of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. After a high speed car chase, he, too, was felled by police.

These two incidents may be connected in that the shooters may have had similar motives, however, it is understood that the perpetrators had no connection whatsoever between themselves. Regardless, the two assailants did share the following common characteristics:

1) they were both Quebecers;
2) they were children from separated families;
3) they were individuals who ascribed to Islam at a more mature age;
4) they were both beset by personal financial problems;
5) they sought to travel to the Middle East to fight alongside radical Islamists;
6) they aspired to the idea of a "jihad" against the West.

These are the portraits of two young men who grew up in Quebec but ended up rejecting their origins, their hearts captured by radical Islamist doctrine and thoughts of waging holy war against their native society. As such, their aim was to hit directly at the heart of Canadian nationalism by attacking the country's servicemen and its storied institutions.

Martin Couture-Rouleau's savage attack while behind the wheel of his vehicle is proof of his vengeful fury and his ideological hatred and loathing towards the Canadian Armed Forces and the country's policies.

Likewise, Zehaf-Bibeau targeted a soldier guarding the National War Memorial and proceeded to Parliament Hill, attempting to ravage the very seat of Canada's democracy and strike a blow at the heart of the nation in which he was born and raised.

It is traumatic for a peaceful country like Canada to count two devastating attacks in one week that were carried out by native children nursed in an educational system that taught them to be law-abiding, democratic citizens.

This may be a phenomenon to be studied by sociologists and psychologists but, above all, questions must be addressed surrounding Canadian society in general.
What can be the reasons that even a minute portion of youngsters attempt to distance themselves from their Canadian ideals and end up turning to Islam, perhaps in a desire to satisfy a need for heroism?

1. Is it because of a relaxed approach that Canadian educational institutions adopt with respect to the country's national identity, thereby failing to form proud Canadians but, rather, developing indifferent individuals vulnerable to radical religious and cultural influences?
2. Can it be the result of a Conservative Government that has strongly realigned the country's foreign policies in support of Israel and closely sided with the United States on the issues of the Middle East?
3. Is it due to the recent decision of Prime Minister Harper to send six warplanes to Iraq to join in the fight against ISIS?
4. Should blame be laid at the feet of the collapse of the family unit whereby 40% of Canadian marriages end in divorce, creating insecure youths with scores to settle?
5. Is it the inability of the Christian religion to offer up a vision of humanity and solidarity, of peace and love for Western society?

Whatever the reasons, it is extremely worrisome for Canadian society that "baby-boomer" parents who grew up as disciples of the slogan of the 60's and 70's of "Make Love, Not War!" are raising children hungry for false heroism who are identifying themselves with foreign ethnic radicalism and carrying out extremist attacks inside and outside the country's borders.

It is tragic even if one sole, young Canadian, even in a country where 3.2% of its population is Muslim, identifies with the odious murderers of ISIS and longs to side with the forces of extremist Islam.