Rabat – Morocco is sending out 422 religious leaders to officiate in mosques in a number countries in Europe and beyond.
The objective is to unify Moroccan muslims in those countries and “maintain and protect mosques from radicalization, extremism,” according to the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs.
Every year, Morocco sends imams to a number of countries in Europe to officiate prayers, vigils, and religious sermons for Moroccans living abroad on the occasion of Ramadan, the ninth holy month in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.
In a statement on Friday, May 3, Minister of endowments and Islamic affairs Ahmed Toufiq said that Morocco is sending out 422 Moroccan imams, morchidates (female religious guides), preachers and reciters “to provide religious guidance to Moroccans living abroad.”
The ministry said it would ensure that activities within mosques are in harmony with European law. Of the 422 candidates for the mission, 163 will go to France, the country with the largest Moroccan community in Europe. The number of Taraweeh (nighttime prayer) imams totals 361, 29 female preachers, and 32 male preachers, according to the minister.
The mission is jointly coordinated with Moroccan embassies and consulates and religious officials in the concerned European countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, besides other countries like Canada and Gabon.
The number of imams Morocco is sending this year is higher than that of last year, which was 370.
Part of Morocco’s deradicalization program is the creation of the Institute of Mohammed VI for the training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates, as well as the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema, dedicated to supporting African theologians and scholars to promote religious tolerance.