France is to open a centre for deradicalizing youth who have shown radical and extremist tendencies. This is the first of the planned 12 centres, officially called the “Centre for the Prevention, Integration and Citizenship” will start operations at the end of September. In an 18th century chateau, in Beaumont-en-Veron, located some 290 kilometers south of Paris, the centre will house a maximum of 30 youth at a time aged 18-30 in dormitory-style accommodation for 10 months and aim at changing the lives and minds of approximately 3600 people in the next two years. Participation is to be voluntary and not be force. France’s Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, stated that this was the latest strategy of the government in the fight against terrorism, and said “We can only fight against terrorism by respecting the principles of the Republic”. At this centre, residents will undergo a type of boot camp, waking up at 6.45 am, ceremonially saluting the French flag, and undertaking athletics and courses in French history, religion and philosophy. They will wear a uniform during their stay, and will have a chance to do internships in nearby companies.
This is an ambitious project and has already started receiving criticism. However, the stakes of doing nothing are too high. Already In France more than 230 people have died since January last year in terrorist attacks. Several hundred young French men and women have gone to extremist training camps and returned to France, amid increasing concern of more attacks. It is estimated that about 9300 people have been radicalized.
In addition to the current efforts of the French government, education about True Islam, one based on peace and brotherhood, will no doubt help these youth understand that they have been misled by terrorists claiming to be Muslim and who use their warped understanding of Islam to corrupt the minds of vulnerable youth for their own gain.