|Morocco protects mosques from religious extremism|
|الأربعاء, 18 يونيو 2014 07:27|
Morocco's 50,000 mosques are now benefiting from a "Religious Guidance Support Plan" that puts instructors in places of worship to guide discourse.
Some 1,300 imams-mourchidines (spiritual instructors) will provide religious guidance without inciting intolerance or hatred.
"Their task is to help and guide imams in mosques to preserve the fundamentals of Islam in Morocco, based on the Maliki rite, contrary to takfirism, which is constantly invading the minds of our young people," Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq said at the plan's unveiling Friday (June 13th) in Rabat.
The imam-instructors will also develop services provided by mosques, such as literacy programmes, the minister added.
According to Belkacem Elomari, an imam-mourchid in Khemisset, the programme uses modern technologies.
"The creation of an integrated information network will facilitate communication and ensure that religious activity is consistent across the country," Elomari said.
El Haj El Hassani, another imam-mourchid, said that this initiative captured the essence of community religious activity.
"The plan also seeks to tackle all forms of exploitation of religion continuously," he pointed out.
El Mokhtar Baadi, a religious instructor, highlighted the importance of helping imams in mosques to shape the spirit of this "support plan", which also aims to root out takfirist ideology at its source.
The president of the Council of Ulema, Ahmed Yessef, said that the demand for religious services was growing constantly due to people's interest in worship in Morocco.
"The level of education of the population, the emergence of new problems and the polluting parasitism of the religious domain most often make it necessary to provide urgent responses," Yessef told Magahrebia.
But the way in which religious reform is handled in Morocco should not underestimate the importance of civil liberties, some political and civil society figures said.
"Against a background of religion being exploited for political ends, this initiative is needed to protect mosques from political one-upmanship," commented Benzine Fettah from the Party of Authenticity and Modernity.
But Yasser Benmalek from the youth wing of the Party of Justice and Development (PJD) said that freedom of expression must be preserved for religious leaders too: "An imam must condemn social injustices and ills above all other duties."
Houda Ait Lahcen, a human rights activist in Casablanca, said that "amid a regional context of widespread jihadist salafism, fatwas must be issued through an institutional framework so that we can prevent anarchy and disorder in the religious domain."
For the purposes of the "support plan", imams-mourchidines hold licences, memorise the entire Qur'an and have received additional theological and professional training that draws on national values.