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The Extremism of Moroccans! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Despite what the title of this article may suggest or the fact that it might provoke some people, it is a title that expresses concern and does not aim to pass judgment.

Morocco has always been known as the most tolerant of Arab countries, a statement made by the late King Hassan II in an interview when he was asked about the emergence of extremist organizations that resort to violence in the Middle East and the Gulf and whether he feared that such attacks would extend to his country. He answered saying, “You know of course that Moroccans are more tolerant than the people of the Middle East and this tolerance is our immunity from ideological violence.”

Moroccan tolerance is real and the clear evidence of this is the coexistence of Muslims and Jews that have always been existent in Morocco despite the unrest that ravaged the region. The same explanation was given after a number of successive explosions rocked Casablanca in 2003 carried out by 13 terrorists, killing 23 people. Back then, it was said that the attack was an exception and that a hasty judgment on Morocco should not be passed as a result. Last month, a relatively minor attack was executed in an internet café. This week, Moroccan police pre-empted terrorist operations by raiding a terrorist cell of four people, three members of which managed to blow themselves up.

Despite this, we cannot claim that extremism has engulfed the Moroccans, the most tolerant of Arab nations; however, undoubtedly, it is now clear that terrorist ideologies as well as terrorists have infiltrated Morocco, a fact that must be acknowledged. Three years ago, local authorities began to pursue extremist ideology directly by confiscating books, closing some libraries and preventing some preachers of hate from carrying out their activities. Nevertheless, Morocco has become a victim of the terrorism epidemic but we still do not know the extent of its injury. One argument that tackled the Moroccan phenomenon in terms of the origin and reasons behind the fact that such a tolerant society would be inflicted with this wide scaled sabotage was presented by a writer who said that Morocco is witnessing a reversed crisis since many Moroccan extremists are European Moroccans, and not resident Moroccans. The writer claims that many of these terrorists come from France, Britain and the Netherlands, already plagued by the disease in their countries. They call for denouncing people as non-believers and bringing about change as well as challenging the entire community. Such people, because they are Moroccans [by origin], are accepted in their homeland that respects the opinions of others who come from developed countries, even if these ideologies themselves are underdeveloped. It may seem strange that European Moroccans would be the ones to promote certain ideas such as denouncing people as non-believers, rejecting others and the idea of terrorism to the local Moroccans. If this is the case, then it refers to a crisis of migrants abroad who suffer from being targeted by extremists.

I understand that the four terrorists in Casablanca, a city that is overcrowded by a population of 7 million, are not a reliable indicator to pass judgments. However, the continuous emergence of cells and armament despite prosecution and prevention means that Morocco must fear the worst. This is exactly what happened to the Arabs of the Middle East and the Gulf who underestimated the disease of terrorism at beginning until it had spiraled out of control.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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