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In Theory: Is 'radicalization' child abuse?

March 07, 2014

The mayor of London wrote in a March 2 column in the Daily Telegraph that Muslim children who are at risk of radicalization by their parents are victims of child abuse and should be removed from their homes.

Mayor Boris Johnson says that such a move could stop the children from becoming "potential killers or suicide bombers," but the Muslim Council of Britain cautions Johnson that his remarks risk flaming an anti-Muslim feeling.

Q: What is your opinion of Johnson's suggestion?

Radicalization that leads to hate divisiveness, or violence against people or groups in society should be shunned, condemned, and countered. For Muslims this is clear in the Koran "…[God has] made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another…" (49:13). In addition, taking a moderate and middle way is mandated "And thus We have willed you to be a community of the middle way…" (2:143)


Europe's historic cultural norms have resulted in a poor integration of Muslims, leading to geographical ghettos there. This has been a contributing factor to the problem of rioting and radicalization. When people are socially or economically frustrated, radicalization (however it is justified) is sure to follow.

Muslim integration in America is a wholly different and more positive success story. U.S. Muslims embrace and contribute in America, with basic American values and culture congruent with Islamic values.

But with regard to the issue, two fundamental questions come to mind: (1) should government set the standard of what constitutes radical thought or speech (1st Amendment freedom of speech issue)? and (2) is it government's role to intervene in families and remove children from environments where the government "thinks" radicalization pervades (4th Amendment unwarranted seizure issue)?

If a child is being raised in a household where white supremacy/anti-black prejudice is being taught, should the government remove children from those households?

What if one opposes our nation's Middle East policy? Does that constitute "radical" thought that could lead to hate or violence?

Government should regulate behaviors that will harm society, but not thought or speech, no matter how anathema it is. But it is society's solemn duty to use legal means to counter hate, or in this case, misinterpretation of religious texts that leads to radicalization. 

Omar S. Ricci


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