Morocco’s Islamic Exports | Foreign Affairs

A look inside Morocco’s Imam training academy, and how it plays a major role in the “global war of ideas against Islamic radicalism”:

foreign affairsAt first glance, Madinat Al Irfane seems like an odd location from which to launch a global war of ideas against Islamic radicalism. The upscale middle-class suburb of Rabat is packed with nondescript office buildings and recently built apartment blocks, telltale signs of the widening prosperity of Morocco’s capital. But nestled behind these structures is a marker of a very different sort: a multimillion-dollar academic campus that houses the kingdom’s premier religious training academy, formally known as the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams.

Launched in late 2015, the institute is the central “professionalization” school for religious education in the country, subsuming other official training programs that had previously been carried out elsewhere. But it is also much more. The facility, and the ideas it promotes, lies at the center of the complex counterterrorism effort that Morocco has erected over the past decade and a half—one that has put the North African state on the frontlines of the intellectual struggle against radical Islam.


Morocco’s contemporary counterterrorism strategy can be traced back to the spring of 2003. That May, 14 suicide bombers carried out a series of synchronized attacks throughout the city of Casablanca, killing 45 and wounding dozens of others. For the kingdom, the bombings and the individuals that perpetrated them—native Moroccans from the city’s hardscrabble shantytowns—were a wake-up call. They provided concrete proof that, contrary to conventional wisdom among the country’s elites, the nation was not immune to the radicalism plaguing the rest of the Middle East and North Africa…[FULL STORY]


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