Fear of youth radicalization leads to new helpline

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The Cooperative Union of Dutch Moroccans SMN is launching a hotline and website for radicalization  today, as a low-threshold arrangement for Moroccan Dutch parents who suspect that their children may be considering jihad and who don’t know what to do about it.

SMN spokesman Farid Azarkan explained that there are many parents who suffer quietly and lonely because they do not really know what their children are going through, how they should deal with it and how to get help. They do not trust government departments, are afraid of being stigmatized and unsure about their own educative role,” he said. The initiative for the hotline was realized without support from Government. Azarkan said at the outset the hotline is meant for the SMN’s own membership. “Because most young people who get involved in Islamic radicalization have Moroccan background,” he said, adding however that the organization will not turn back other families who have concerns. They are appointed a confidant and need not fear that telling their stories will lead to their child being arrested, his or her passport being revoked or they will get all kinds of police and media attention. In a later stadium the confidant can also lead people who want to, to the appropriate Government department, for instance to the other radicalization hotline Government is setting up in April. SMN has meanwhile trained 20 confidants who hail from cities with radicalization problems, like The Hague, Arnhem, Delft, Amersfoort, Zoetermeer, Zeist, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Gouda. Project manager Chakib Lamnadi said the intention is to further roll out the initiative in 2015. “Huizen and Tilburg have also indicated that they need an arrangement,” he said. “Nobody knows how to approach the jihadist phenomenon. Everybody - including the official institutes- is looking for a solution. I would like to help find a solution together with the parents who are often ashamed,” one of the confidants said after one of the training sessions. The confidants prefer to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the work. They hint that it is often not clear to the parents what their children are dealing with, but at the same time parents often encounter indifference when they approach the appropriate departments. “You say your son left with a car and €1,100 in his pocket? I’m sorry, there’s not much we can do; he is a grown up,” one parent was told when she informed a Government office that her son had left for Turkey and did not want to return. Parents have many questions that often go unanswered. “Seeking assistance in the Netherlands is a specific competence,” said Fouad el Haji, a former PvdA Second Chamber member from Rotterdam. He said the SMN hotline should offer some security.

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