The War of Ideas – The Moroccan Experience in Fighting Violent Extremism

Violetta Teetor

(Helsinki, 12.2.2019) In a fact-by-fact account on ‘The War of Ideas’ and fighting radicalisation, Dr. Ahmed Abaddi from Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas or Rabita Mohammadia of Scholars, presented arguments and solutions to a full house of academics, media and other interested parties. Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas is an organization that pursues wisdom, noble values and moderate religious teachings of Islam.

It is no secret that trillions of dollars are spent on weapons and collateral business. Daesh, meaning ‘one who tramples underfoot, crushes’ as he prefers to call it, has been swallowed up by mercenaries and bandits who have employed more than just weapons to recruit followers. New tech in the shape of the dark web where anonymous parties are able to buy weaponry, is their domain. The believers and the recruits that have been lured by tweets, snapchat and other means of propaganda, are drawn by dreams that seem irresistible.

Disenfranchised youth get entrapped by the promise of:

 

  • Unity and how the Ottoman Empire existed before 1921
  • Dignity in the photos they see of proud soldiers in uniform, carrying rifles
  • Purity and how they can practice an ‘untarnished’ form of Islam
  • Salvation in these ‘apocalyptic’ days
  • Mastery in understanding this confused world where the magic formula is a simple binary system of good and evil, right and wrong

It is easy to understand why millennials and devout Muslims would be drawn in by such an ideology.

But what is the response to radicalization and how can this war of ideas be won? The good news is that we live in an age of IT, a world in which children excel and this is where the Rabita Mohammadia of Scholars has recognised an untapped resource. Dr. Abaddi knows that preaching, lecturing or teaching will not inspire the same way as gaming would. Instead of banning smart phones from schools, invite these tools in and get the youth to tell their own story based on superheroes like Batman and Superman that everyone recognises. Encourage them to make videos, draw their own cartoon series, write their own songs to give themselves a voice for the betterment of their society. This has proven to be a strong motivator for young people in Morocco. And if Daesh sends out 90 000 tweets a day, how much more can bodies of students and thinkers send out if they are committed to opposition with no budget necessary, just a will to do so?

Dr. Abaddi closed his presentation with an outline of what religion should mean to the individual: happiness, orientation, discernment, choices, living together safely and ethical and moral deeds. He also reminded us that the country that came first in a survey of the functions propagated by Sharia law i.e. preservation of:

  • Life
  • Ethics and morals
  • Dignity
  • Lineage and the continuation of the species
  • Reason
  • Property

… was Sweden

Violetta Teetor is a freelance journalist and President of the European Journalists Network, the Finnish section of the Association of European Journalists.

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