Denmark's Jihadist Rehab: School,Sport and Islam


Young men who have fought alongside Isis in Syria are welcomed back into Aarhus by a controversial rehab programme that has shown signs of success despite being condemned by many as too soft and naive.

How do you turn around a young man who is determined to destroy the West? In Aarhus, you take him to a cafe or a public library and talk about football.

This is the softly-softly approach of Mads, a mentor in an innovative programme to deradicalise young Muslim men who might otherwise turn to violence.

“The guy I’m working with now really wanted to go to Syria,” said Mads, who is in his early 30s but asked not to be identified any further for fear of compromising his work.

“My aim is not to disconnect the religion, because I think it’s fine that he’s religious. But it’s about obtaining a balance,” he added.

Belying its reputation as a harmonious, wealthy country, Denmark has the second largest number of foreign fighters in Syria relative to its size among Western nations, behind only Belgium, according to an estimate by The Economist magazine.


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