By Karima Rhanem – Morocco World News
Morocco World News has recently organized a debate on “Moroccan youth and extremist sects.” Participants agreed that the main factors that throw youth into extremist ideologies are the absence of religious knowledge, the spiritual vacuum or lack of faith, family problems and social conditions, psychological troubles, and parents’ laissez-faire policy. What Moroccan youth think about Satanism and fundamentalism?
Khalid, 28, managing director
In my opinion, even though some extremist ideologies influence some young Moroccans, it does not really have strongholds in our society because of our religious beliefs, culture and traditions. Personally, I think that these young people have a spiritual vacuum, and they are searching in vain to satisfy their lost souls by performing strange rituals that are contrary to the precepts of our religion.
Tarek, 45, director of a private security institute
I’m not sure if there is a sect or movement called “Satan worshipers” in Morocco, because this phenomenon remains very strange and unacceptable in our society. I consider these kinds of practices as a teenage delinquency. Young teenagers are easily attracted to strange beliefs and behaviors because their spare time is not effectively used. In other words, they do not have interesting things to do. Most of them do not practice nor participate in their school activities. People who resorted to these kinds of movements live in families torn by too many problems. They do not receive enough attention or love. Their parents give them money but do not teach them how to use it. Schools and teachers have an important role to play in highlighting things to students and orienting them. I would also like to emphasize the government’s fundamental role in taking care of young people so they won’t be vulnerable to extremist sects. Furthermore, we have to know and understand the red-lines of freedom. Our freedom ends when it threatens others’.
Mohamed, 27, BA in Economics
I think that the phenomenon of “Satan worshiping” is apparent specifically in big cities and among young people. They are easily influenced by everything coming from the West. Moreover, foreign mass media and Internet also have a great impact. The education received in both home and school is certainly wrong. In my opinion, government officials should react to fight this phenomenon and find urgent solutions. The trial of the 14 Moroccan musicians in 2003 should be a warning to those whose faith has been shaken.
Hicham, 28, information officer
I believe that Satanism is a movement that has gained ground among middle and upper class youngsters. However, fundamentalism seems to concern more poor class people. Both Satanism and fundamentalism are direct results of the failure of a social and cultural system. At first glance, they may appear distinct, but they really have many points in common. Both are hard evidence of the degradation of moral values in our society whether at the educational, social, political, or economic levels. They are symptoms of a “sick society”. One wonders why these two phenomena have appeared.
I think the kind of education that a person gets is one of the main reasons that lead young people to be attracted to Satanism. Parents who fail to assume their responsibilities in fully educating their kids may expect them to end up influenced by the Satanist doctrine. The “Laissez-faire” policy is catastrophic in terms of raising children. I think that Satanism might be a kind of rebellion against a corrupted society. It is somehow an aggressive reaction against the social system in which they live.
Mohamed Daoui, 19
I don’t have enough information about extremist groups and their ideology. I only know that they are terrorists and that they influence young people to commit crimes, which is against religious and human values, like what happened on 16 May 2003.
Asmaa Othmani, 15
I think Salafiya Jihadiya is a sect controlled by unknown groups whose fundamental goal is to distort the image of Islam. Salafiya Jihadiya has many group sections under its control. I bet that even Salafiya Jihadiya adherents don’t know who their big boss is.
The word Salafiya Jihadiya reminds me of the May 16 attacks. For me, it refers to bombs, terrorism, and crime. These people have no identity and are using religion for their own interests. They abuse poor young people and fill their heads with dark ideas about life, people, and promise them heaven after death, as if they were God.
I think that Salafiya Jihadiya is a movement which has its roots in the Middle East. “It is an exported culture.”
Salafiya means following the sunna (the teaching of the Prophet Mohamed, Peace be upon him). Jihad as presented in the Quran concerns the sacrifice of material property, social class and even emotional comfort solely for the salvation and worship of God. As a result, someone who practices jihad will gain tremendously in the Hereafter. The meaning of jihad given by the media is false, because it implies devotion to war and conflicts, which has nothing to do with the real goals of jihad in Islam. Islam forbids the killing of children, old people, women, and sick and handicapped people during war. Moreover, killing is an unforgettable act in Islam.
This extremist movement is against Islam and against freedom. The people affected are often illiterate, therefore they know little about Islam. God forbids killing except for self-defense in wartime.
Tolerant Islamist movements, such as Islah wa Tawhid (Reform and Monotheism), Al Adl wa L’Ihssan (Justice and charity), Daawa wa Tabligh (Preaching and Outreach), have existed in Morocco for a long time. Today, we see other movements like Salafiya Jihadiya, Sirat Moustaqim (the Straight Path) and Hijra wa Takfir, but they all refer to blood and terrorism.
As far as fundamentalism is concerned, this too can be related to education, but is mostly due to the economic conditions in which fundamentalists are living. Poverty is one of the main reasons that leads people to embrace the fundamentalist doctrine.
The trial of the Moroccan fundamentalists has shown that most of those arrested in the May 16 attacks grew up in poor areas, such as Sidi Moumen and Toma slums.
It is certainly nonsense to justify such terrorist acts by blaming poverty and unemployment. I think that fundamentalist groups such as Salfiya Jihadiya and others take advantage of this situation to recruit desperate young people and transform them into ready bombs.
The young participants stressed the dangerous role of extremist movements because they use teenagers as weapons to destroy societies and discredit the image of Islam. They give themselves the right to punish people and tell them what to do and what not to do.
Most of them agreed that people who are likely to be attracted by these movements are the ones who rebel against bad social and economical conditions; those who have a weak educational background; those who lack religious knowledge; and those who have problems in dealing with the outside world.
The participants ended the debate by suggesting new campaigns to make young people aware of the real principles of Islam, and to explain the real meaning of the word jihad. They added that the government must start debates with young people about religion, and put their concerns among the top priorities in their agenda.
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