The Moroccan approach to countering extremism has proven to be a successful model that continues to develop across the country.
The Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas in Rabat organised a conference bringing together academic and Islamic scholars to deliberate over the methods that may be applied to improve counter-extremism strategies in Morocco. The Rabita Mohammadia is an institution officially charged with the role of countering religious fanaticism and extremism in the country.
Participants at the conference touched on a broad variety of themes that are seen as pertinent to the context wherein extremist ideas grow and spread in Moroccan society. These themes included the history of colonialism, corruption and the role of social media and the internet in motivating recruitment. Many reached the conclusion that in order for religious preachers to reach out to their young followers, they should engage with youth people via social media. This strategy may help to drown out the more extremist online voices who have recognised the effectiveness of spreading propaganda that appeals to young people.
The role of the education system and curricula at schools was emphasised at the conference. Participants noted the rigidity of curricula in Morocco and the incapacity of the education system to adapt to modern trends and grievances among the youth.
Young people across countries with large Muslim populations in the Middle East are often living in a context of political instability and lack of employment opportunities. In addition to this, the perception of excessive foreign intervention and the implementation of “neo-colonialist” policies in the region add fire to the already burning potential for recruitment by extremist groups who take advantage of widespread discontent directed towards external “foes”.
Similar initiatives to bring together expert to discuss counter-terrorism in Morocco have been launched before. The first anti-radicalisation conference of its kind was launched back in 2016.
ISIS has been particularly unsuccessful in their attempts to recruit young people and launch terrorist attacks in Morocco thanks to the counter-terrorism units and the continuing anti-radicalisation programme adopted at the national and sub-national levels.