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Morocco: controversial flyers promote religious extremism

A view of the Moroccan port of Tanger Med, on 14 March, 2020, in the northern city of Tangiers [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]
A view of the Moroccan port of Tanger Med, on 14 March, 2020, in the northern city of Tangiers [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

People in Morocco are outraged at the distribution of flyers promoting extremist ideas promising dire punishments for citizens who dare to commit sins and depart from the path of righteousness, especially women. The leaflets were circulated in Tangier, criticising the way that women dress and scolding the parents of girls for allowing them to wear "immoral" clothing.

Many citizens have now started to question the degree of religious awareness among large segments of Moroccan society, given the lack of respect for individual freedoms reflected in the flyers.

"Moroccan society has been witnessing an increase in religious extremism, even though it is not associated with terrorist acts and remains limited to collective manifestations in relation to issues of individual freedoms, as some people claim guardianship over the implementation of Islamic law in society while ignoring the rule of law that underpins modern societies," said an editorial in Hespress.

The newspaper added that, "The remnants of Wahhabi ideas are still entrenched in Moroccan society, and despite the efforts made by state bodies overseeing the management of religious affairs, there are some social groups who are convinced with their extremist thoughts regarding issues of peaceful coexistence and try to circulate them in the form of flyers on the streets."

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According to Islamic Studies researcher Muhammad Abdel-Wahhab Rafiki, the issue should be addressed from a security perspective. "There is no room for debate in this type of conduct in a state of law, and modern societies have already settled the matter, as no one has the right to impose guardianship on the others." Unfortunately, he added, such behaviour shows that Morocco is still suffering from imported religious ideas which have made people think that they can force their beliefs on other people.

The researcher pointed out that Morocco has made a lot of effort since 2003 against this pattern of religious extremism. "In my opinion, these ideas can explode at any time, which requires the introduction of ways to combat such ideology within society."

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