Aid & Development

Religious Leaders In Morocco Stand Strong In The Face Of Extremism

North Africa

The Institute of Mohammed VI for the Training of Imams in Rabat aims to teach aspiring imams how to combat extremism, both in Morocco and internationally.

Moroccan religious leaders continue to show their firm stance against the wave of violent extremism that has affected the region. Following the rise of ISIS in 2014, the Moroccan king established the Institute of Mohammed VI for the Training of Imams, in the country’s capital, Rabat, to teach and promote a non-extremist interpretation of Islam.

“Unfortunately, some Muslims have distorted the image of Islam, and in the eyes of non-Muslims, it became a religion of extremism,” said a teacher at the institute. “[Thus] the Institute is keen to provide complete studies so that the graduates are capable of dialogue.”

This approach to countering radical extremism is one that Morocco has held since the early days of the conflict against ISIS. In 2016, Morocco hosted the first anti-radicalisation conference in the country, in an attempt to develop further solutions to the rise of extremism in the country. The conference brought together academics and religious leaders, who agreed that military action would not stop ISIS or any other radical movements that may follow course. As a result, they stressed the need for religious literacy and the promotion of alternative interpretations of Islam, with many existing in Morocco for decades.

Since the issue of radicalisation is not a problem for Morocco alone, the institute has shown its keenness to teach Imams from all around the world the methods of countering extremism so that young men and women are not affected by radical ideology.

According to the administrators of the institute, over 1,100 international students have attended and graduated from the institute since 2014.

“As for us, those who have been learning here at the Institute for three years, we will return to France to work in leadership and guidance,” said Morgan Calé, a French Imam who is currently enrolled in the Institute. “It is not possible to fight extremism alone, but it comes with education and knowledge. These are keys that must be used to combat extremism and terrorism.”

As the country’s security forces continue to successfully conduct operations to dismantle extremist cells throughout the country, the religious leaders say that their role in educating the masses plays a huge role in defeating militant groups and, more importantly, their ideology.