Washington, DC, June 16, 2016 (MACP) — On Tuesday, in yet further evidence of his commitment to promoting religious moderation and tolerance in the region, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI inaugurated the Higher Council of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema. First announced in June 2015, the Foundation brings together 120 Ulema, Muslim scholars recognized for their knowledge of Islamic law and theology, from 31 countries in Africa. Their aim, as King Mohammed VI explained in a speech at the inauguration ceremony, is “to make sure [Islam’s open-minded values of moderation, tolerance and coexistence] help us promote security, stability and development in Africa.”
“I am convinced the Foundation, through its branches in African countries, and together with other religious institutions, will play its role in disseminating enlightened religious precepts and in combating extremism, reclusiveness and terrorism – which our faith does not embrace in any way – but which are advocated by some clerics, in the name of Islam,” he added.
The inauguration comes just over a year after the opening of the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines, and Morchidates – a religious training center that aims to instill the values of Morocco’s moderate form of Islam, based on the Maliki rite and Sunni Sufism, in the next generation of Muslim religious leaders (imams) and preachers (morchidines and morchidates) from across the region and the world. To date, the Institute has enrolled students from Mali, Tunisia, Guinea Conakry, Cote d’Ivoire, and France, and Morocco has signed agreements to train imams from several other countries—including Libya and Belgium.
These efforts are part of Morocco’s broader “counter-radicalization” strategy, which has garnered praise from leaders around the world, including in the US. During a visit to Morocco in April 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that Morocco “plays a very important role in facing extremism, and it also disseminates cooperation with African countries in the religious domain at a moment where Africa needs this spiritual support to face terrorism based on these values, the values of tolerance.” The State Department’s 2015 Country Reports on Terrorism acknowledged Morocco’s “comprehensive strategy for countering violent extremism that prioritizes economic and human development goals in addition to tight control of the religious sphere and messaging.” It stated that “Morocco has developed a national strategy to affirm and further institutionalize Morocco’s widespread adherence to the Maliki-Ashari school of Sunni Islam,” focusing on “upgrading mosques, promoting the teaching of relatively moderate Islam, and strengthening the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (MEIA).”
”Morocco has long been the regional leader in combating terrorism and radicalization through its enlightened, moderate religious practice, and the Foundation adds yet another level of support for those fighting against ISIS’ and other extremist groups’ propaganda machines,” said former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel.
Contact: Jordana Merran, 202.470.2049
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