Rabat - A frequently asked question raised in our discussions is related to fundamentalism. Participants want to know what it is, its origins, its various manifestations, what people here (in Morocco) think about it, how to eradicate it, etc. In many of our discussions, it appeared that the concept "fundamentalism" did not mean the same thing to everyone. In all cases, however, the concept seemed to refer to a radical religious Islamic movement which calls for Jihad which the participants tend to understand as a global war against all non Muslims.
Rabat – A frequently asked question raised in our discussions is related to fundamentalism. Participants want to know what it is, its origins, its various manifestations, what people here (in Morocco) think about it, how to eradicate it, etc. In many of our discussions, it appeared that the concept “fundamentalism” did not mean the same thing to everyone. In all cases, however, the concept seemed to refer to a radical religious Islamic movement which calls for Jihad which the participants tend to understand as a global war against all non Muslims.
I always start by pointing out to the complex nature of the issue whereby the necessity to approach it with a lot of methodological care and caution. In fact, while contemporary fundamentalism may well have religious dimensions, these are actually but the ideological manifestations or expressions of political, economic, social, cultural and historical dysfunctions of a society. Many of these dysfunctions are, of course, rooted in the endogenous identifying structures of societies with a dominant Islamic background, but many other dysfunctions have originated in the injustice and the incoherence which resulted from the contact / confrontation with other societies especially during the second half of the nineteenth century. The contact / confrontation took place within the framework of the expansion of European colonialism and the attitudes that accompanied it which reduced anything not European / Western to Barbarian, uncivilised and which endowed the West with a civilizing mission. The self-righteousness of the civilisation mission which meant also transforming the social structures, the economic systems, the political and judicial systems as well as imposing foreign languages and cultural norms on peoples is the origin of the rise of fundamentalism which appeared as a resistance movement in the nineteenth century in many parts of the world sharing Islamic traditions.
Another general tendency is to take Islam to be what anyone who claims to be a “Muslim” says it is. I try to explain that there are as many versions of Islam nowadays as there have been centuries, states, political movements, conflicting economic interests among nations and social groups and as many readers of the official documents in which Islamic law and tradition have been encoded since the death of the Prophet. In fact, although the creed has remained essentially untouched, the Koran unchanged since it had been compiled after the death of the prophet and although the Hadith remained unchallenged – in the major schools of Islam, at least – since the consensus on the major two documents known as “Assahihhayin” had been achieved among scholars and historians, political interpretations of the Islamic tradition have been multiple.
One leading concept of Islamic political thinking has always revolved around the central idea of how much distance one can take from the literal expression of the teachings of Islam given the changes that occur in society and in the environment in which human beings have to co-exist. Fundamentalists are the people who claim that no distance should be taken from the literal and exact expression of the laws as expressed in the Koran and in the Hadith. Among these fundamentalists, some tolerate interpretations and propositions that seem to them to be coherent and in tune with the letter of the law while others insist that a Muslim should be an exact replica of the prophet; meaning one should dress, eat, talk, behave socially, etc. in exactly the same way as the prophet has been reported to have behaved. This is extreme fundamentalism.
The revival of fundamentalism took place with (i) the fall of the Ottoman Empire, (ii) the loss of lands formerly under Islamic rule to Christian powers and (iii) the French invasion of Egypt. This revival referred to as Assalafiya was, however, led both by Arab and non Arab leaders. In fact, one of the major leaders was Jamal Eddine Al Afghani who had elected to launch his actions from Egypt. Literally, Assalafiya means the movement which advocates the return to the ways of life of ancestors. In political terms, it meant the opposition of any form of social, political, economic or cultural organisation that was different from that under which ancestors ruled.
Many such interpretations tend to underscore an important principle in Islamic law and tradition, namely that they had been installed gradually and in response to actual social, economic and political situations of the time of the prophet. Many scholars see in this gradual installation of Islamic law the permission for Muslims to adapt to the conditions of their actual living conditions. In fact, this gradual enactment of laws as well as the various cancellations and amendments of formerly enacted laws have allowed some interpreters of the laws to claim that whatever the law, it has to go through the test of actual enforcement to be assessed and adapted. In other words, laws may be judged to be valid in some times but not in others. It is not the law itself which is the end, but the aims it seeks to achieve as a social, economic or political instrument. Others refuse this principle and insist that no adaptation can be attempted. This disagreement has influenced readings and interpretations of the official documents on which Islam is based in another important way. In fact, adherence to the first position makes any interpretation of Koranic ayat (verses), for instance, a function of all other verses. No aya can therefore be interpreted or explained in isolation of its immediate environment or from the general context of the Koran, the Hadith and its historical conditions. This refers to the condition of analyzing and interpreting founding texts as they relate to the causes and reasons for which they were revealed or said. Many fundamentalists reject this approach and prefer to read and interpret Koranic verses in isolation as if they had no congruity to the actual human life they were supposed to relate to.
Throughout the twentieth century, politicians, theologians, ideologists and philosophers have tried to develop thinking systems within which some conciliation between the salafyia option and some form of modernism would be possible. One could, perhaps, say without little risk of being mistaken that streamline Arabic and Islamic thought has been dominated by this issue throughout the last century and will probably continue to be for quite some time. When there have been times and places in which modernism seemed to be about to overcome, however, foreign forces intervened to support dictatorships and to legitimate the salafiya option. The most recent eloquent example is the support of Bin Laden and of the Taliban in Afganistan by the USA and their instrumentation against the threat of secular regimes. Many people would also give the example of the American support to the Wahabi Saudi regime which is based on one of the most freedom limiting interpretations of Islam and the least open to reflection and contextualization. In fact, for decades, the USA supported the Saudi regime which denied women equal rights and men any form of political right unless they belonged to the ruling tribe. By supporting undemocratic regimes, the USA was actually also fighting modernist and democratic options and stifling freedoms. In this sense, the radicalisation of political alternatives – not only Islamic ones – in these parts of the world is therefore to a great extent the direct consequence of US foreign policy in the area.
The origins of the current difficulties of Arab countries to establish democratic models lie way back in history. The most recent failures of the political elites of these countries are, however, to be found during and immediately after the independence from Western colonialism starting the forties of the twentieth century. In fact, independence, which has generally been the result of some form of nationalist activism averred to be unable to install democratic regimes even when that was a major argument in their anti colonial discourse. Not in one liberated Arab country was democracy installed. The problem seemed to be that earlier political models having been dismantled, no elite seemed to have been able to imagine a model that could at the same time be rooted in democratic philosophy and maintain what was taken to be Arab and/or Islamic culture and political heritage.
Independence was expected to be a way of recovering identity and specificity but also a way of ensuring equity and justice to those who contributed to making it possible. Neither of the political models available at the time, namely the socialist and the European liberal models, averred potent enough to ensure the coherence between the two poles of the dichotomy and the complexity of the issues at hand. Half a century later, one can but witness to the bankruptcy and the failure of all attempts to meet either objective. Hard line dictatorships; be they monarchies or self declared presidential republics, ruled Arab countries. The tendency to assimilate all populations to one archetype which fitted neither the diversity of the cultural, ethnic and historical backgrounds present in the region nor the intellectual dynamism and aspirations of the liberated populations resulted in extreme hegemonic policies. Everywhere in the region, minorities were excluded from mainstream political and cultural development initiatives and their attempt to express their aspirations were met by violent resistance. Kurds were thus crashed in Iraq, non Muslims in other countries, and modernists throughout the region.
This failure has been exacerbated by the lethargy of the ruling intelligentsia which limited its field of action in such ways as to exclude any thinking or innovation in the areas of religion and ideology. As a matter of fact, investigation in those major areas was tolerated only when it aimed at confirming past alternatives or at reviving ancient ideas whereby such appellations of political movements as “Assahwa” and “annahda” respectively the wake up and the standing up. Critical thinking and innovation were both off limits. Innovation was equated to straying off the right path and deserved harsh punishment. Free thinkers suffered the worst exactions in practically all Arab countries. Tolerance and patience thinned. Nationals who dared propose alternative political or cultural models fell under the attack of both the religious and the political establishments. The failure of the socialist revolutionary experience and the other models that tried to integrate some liberal and democratic concepts in local political options in the Arab region to meet the people’s expectations favoured the rise of new Islamic ideologies rooted in the radical Wahabist strand. The radicalization of ideologies found in these conflicting options a propitious environment to thrive.
Modernism was celebrated only in the technological aspects of its manifestations. Science, as a discipline that could also investigate human nature, study the mind or analyze the organization of societies and economic and political relations among human beings and propose solutions to the problems of humans was rejected as heresy and polytheism. Likewise, the dimensions of science that proposed the investigation of language, discourse and symbols to explain human beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviour were also rejected. In other words, Men and Women as a social, historical and psychological thinking beings were off limits for science. The inevitable result was that neither politics could propose alternative organizations of human relations nor could science propose any assessment of the value and belief systems of people. Modernity could not, for instance, include such conditions as democracy or free thinking. Criticism of what is was prohibited because allegedly it is rooted in the absolute truth of religion.
The questions which Arab and Muslim intellectuals would still like their political leadership to answer relate to the extent to which one is free to exercise free thinking and reason in imagining solutions to the daily problems of men and women in the course of their normal life. In other words, what should the place of reason, science and Man be in the decision process related to policy making and to legislation. The question is therefore about the contribution of human beings in the shaping and development of their religion. The question, however, raises critical issues such as the conditions for making these contributions. Are there, for instance, any constraints on who should contribute and who should not? Should such contributions be limited to a given community, that community would end up with all political powers.
Asking the question is, however, part of the answers expected. There are two possible answers. Where one stands makes of him/her a modernist or a radical. The first answer is that such contributions be limited to those who have traditionally had the authority to make them, namely, the ‘ulema’ and the ‘fuqaha’ that is theologians and self declared religious clerics. The second answer is that such contributions have to include people from all walks of life and from all fields of science. No exclusion of any science – be it natural, physical or human – should be tolerated on any basis. The difference between these two answers is that the first one guarantees the perpetuation of a cognitive and experiential status quo while the second does not and tolerates change on the basis of the evolution of knowledge and of the changes that result from it in the organization of human life.
The second answer tolerates new readings of the founding texts of religion and situates them in their relative order within the coherence of their internal hierarchy as well as within the evaluation grid of reason and knowledge. Furthermore, the second answer removes the authority of legitimizing political power and rule from the community of the ‘ulema’ and the ‘fuqaha’ and places it within the community at large removing thus exclusivity from the political decision making process.
Put differently, the question could be ‘can modernism be reached exclusively from within the Islamic tradition or should it be sought from without it as well? Can Muslims reinvent a dialectic through which they can revisit their past and reassess their heritage? Is modernism to be seen as a total alienation from the Islamic heritage or can it be reached through some sort of balancing of this heritage and Western modernist traditions?
Whether Muslims can build their present identity without having to give up either past or present and within the perspective of who they would like to be in the future depends a lot on their ability to cure their cognitive and experiential approaches from the chronic fear they have of the West and of their veneration of their history. Both attitudes have, however, served to perpetuate the hold of small communities on Muslim peoples. In fact, restricting legislative and interpretation procedures are said to protect religion both from internal and external threats. Furthermore, isolating the founding texts, for instance, from the community at large, is one way of securing the perpetuation of a status quo by avoiding them to interact with real life and real people and hence to acquire new meanings based on the cognitive and experiential evolution of the community. In other words, restricting the free access to the founding texts means to restrict possible interpretations that could challenge the dominant ideology. It is fundamentalism.
And What about Jihad
As to the concept of Jihad, which too, seems to be worrying participants, it is a concept that has been discussed thoroughly in the Islamic tradition, philosophy and political literature. In short, this concept has, like all other concepts, been subjected to the influence of the discussion of the central concept I have just discussed. Some claim that Jihad is a type of war to take Islam where it is not known. Others claim that Jihad is a sort of discipline by which the individual learns to control his/her emotions, passions and instincts so as to purify his/her soul and be worthy of meeting his/her God. This form of Jihad is also one way of expressing gratitude to God for all the bounties and the goods He has endowed the person with including reason and the capacity to do good to others. The two interpretations of Jihad need not, however, be exclusive. In fact, one can imagine taking Islam to where it is not known in peaceful ways or in non peaceful ways. Here, the decision makes the difference between a fundamentalist and a non-fundamentalist. This issue is related to what people decide to do and to make of what they have, including religion and a body of texts. Islam, for instance, may be taken to be the proposition of a human organisation in which all men and women, regardless of their race, their ethnic origin and their religion, would have equal access to education, to social services, to safety, to dignity and to justice. Jihad would be under this definition of Islam a global program that seeks to ensure to all equal opportunity and dignity in a world that recognises, respects and protects their difference and their respective identities and specificity.
Furthermore, freedom of speech includes talking about your own preferences and trying to convince others to adhere to the alternatives you propose and to support your choices. Jihad can be understood as the peaceful political action of making your voice heard and of trying to rally people to your own religious preferences. It is the Jihad through the word. In strictly Koranic terms, Jihad is associated with self defence. It is the action one takes to protect one’s family, one’s personal integrity, one’s home, one’s property and one’s sacred values from any aggressor. It is important to reiterate the fact that by home it is also referred to homeland which, in Islam, includes the peaceful coexistence of other religions.
One may choose to read only one aya (verse) in isolation while another one may choose to read it in relation to other verses and in the framework of a global system of referential values. In other words, it all depends on how one chooses to read a text and to interpret it. A good example which I have given in many meetings is the case of polygamy in Islam. Like all other concepts, Jihad will be interpreted from a theological stance as well as from a political and ideological position. A radical fundamentalist will manage to give the concept a meaning that legitimates his/her violence and a modernist will find in it the recommendation to be tolerant and respectful of the choices of others.
Fundamentalism and Jihad are political issues. They must be approached as such and any solution to problems related to them must also be political. No security approach to these aspects of political Islamism will overcome them.
The case of the hijab or the veil
While there is in fact an aya which stipulates in straightforward Arabic that a man can take up to four wives, this same aya is followed by two other ones which make taking more than one wife simply impossible. Many people quote only the first aya and justify thereby polygamy in Islam. Many others prefer to read the following ayat and conclude to the impossibility of taking more than one wife. The discussion of Jihad is exactly like this one. It depends on what a person decides from the beginning he/she wants to justify. If a person wants to justify violence, s/he will not refer to the many ayat which insist on the peaceful side of Islam.
This variety of interpretations has become possible for many reasons. Of these reasons is ignorance of what Islam is by the masses essentially because of their ignorance of the Arabic language and because of the exclusiveness of the rights to interpret the Koran and the Hadith which some scholars have enforced in outright violation of Islamic creed which makes no intermediary between a human being and God, let alone between man and the teachings of his God. In fact, a major founding principle of Islam is that it accepts no priesthood. One precept our religious instruction teachers insisted on and insisted we never give up was “There is no priesthood in Islam.” This is the reason for which there is no clergy, no church and no Mullah in Morocco.
In addition to this, Islam is like any other religion, it has been part of the political system for fifteen centuries, it has been used to support judicial systems which were not always all Islamic in nature, it has been used to justify economic measures which did not always correspond to the wants of populations, it was used to seclude women while there are many teachings and indicators that posit the equality of all genders in the founding texts of Islam, etc.
Islam has been used to support dynasties and to wage wars against others. It has been evoked to justify republican options and to confirm monarchies. It has been used to validate socialist choices and invalidate liberal alternatives. In other words, what people do in the name of Islam or what they claim they do on behalf of Islam is not necessarily Islam itself. The same can be said of socialism, democracy, Christianity, communism or globalisation. All these are ideals, what people have done with them throughout history comes down to the same thing. All have been used to wage wars against races, against different minorities and to promote the interests of different groups at the expense of others. They have been used as ideologies to justify the struggle for power and hegemony from their very start and throughout history to the present times.
In more recent years, and especially after the American led wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and after the 9/11 aftermath, Islamic fundamentalism has been often associated with political and activist groups that people associate it with. A point to start is then to say a few words about these groups.
If very little is known to the general public about their internal organisation, the sources of their finances, their recruitment strategies and their political ambitions, these factors must be well known and well documented to major intelligence agencies in the world, especially the Western democracies on whose pay roll many a leader of these groups was for many years and which hosted them and protected them from the alleged injustice of their home countries. In fact, not only have many western countries hosted the first groups but many of their leaders had actually been trained, organised and financed by some of these countries. In other words, many of the monsters which the USA, the UK and other Western countries are warning the world against and against which they are trying to mobilize everyone, have in fact been conceived, indoctrinated and unleashed against their own people by Western democracies at times that these same countries needed surrogate warriors and armies against the other challengers of that time.
In other words, these groups are organised in such ways that make them practically invulnerable, highly protected and able to regenerate from their own ashes. Their financial channels are not all underground and not all related to crime. They are deeply anchored in legal multinational corporations and international business. Their leadership is highly educated both in the sciences and in the humanities and trained in the arts of communication. They have developed recruiting strategies that are integrated in their social and economic programs through which they practice everyday solidarity. Their ideology is presented in ways that make individuals give up reason and rational thinking and argumentation to their elite that requires total submission to the hierarchy that, alone, can make interpretations of holy texts and religious laws.
The hierarchy is, however, at the same time part of the ideology, the recruiting system, the communication strategy and the political alternative they propose. In fact, the dynamism of the hierarchy is such that a poor and illiterate individual recently recruited can be moved up to gain titles that he would have never dared dream of. With the titles come, of course, responsibilities and obligations, which the same hierarchy has developed ways to monitor, protect and make sure are implemented and carried out when the time comes.
A major principle of many of these groups is that no law, no act, no behaviour is legitimate unless it occurs within the framework of a particular understanding and interpretation of what every group takes to be Islamic tradition. Because what is referred to as Islamic tradition has been / is subjected to many interpretations throughout history, one expects these groups to hold different understandings and interpretations of them. What one would expect less, fifteen centuries after these traditions have been established, is how a person or a group would wish everyone in the world to submit and adhere to their own understanding, interpretations and law, or become an enemy to kill.
Anachronism here is not one of ideas and of laws but of thinking and reasoning attitudes which, by all means cannot be expected from highly educated people. This anachronism is the more dangerous that it seems that it has been opted for by the leadership and ideologists of these groups consciously for political purposes. The political purposes at issue are the manipulation of illiterate and vulnerable populations of Islamic background. These populations have been targeted because they are the more predisposed to be influenced because they have suffered for very long from poverty, lack of democracy, of injustice and of humiliation. In fact, the dignity of these populations has been violated so often and for so long and their aspirations have been betrayed by the many ideologies and political promises that were suggested to them in the past.
The rise of the ideologies proposed by these groups is in a way the triumph of irrationality when rational approaches to the solution of social, economic and cultural problems have failed. It is also the triumph of home-grown alternatives when the adaptation of others that have been conceived and developed elsewhere failed to eradicate poverty and to improve the standards of human dignity.
In many ways, the rise of these ideologies is also a triumph over democracy which had been sacrificed by the biggest democracies of the world when they supported dictators and pretended they did not see what they did to their own people for strategic and geopolitical reasons and to spare their own interests or promote those interests of a small number of corporations and foreign companies. In like manner, the rise of these ideologies is in a way the failure of the world economic system and the financial adjustment measures which, instead of reducing poverty and peace, exacerbated poverty in rich countries and generated deadly regional conflicts in formerly peaceful areas.
To sum up, the rise of fundamentalism is no historical accident. It has been engineered both consciously and unconsciously by national and international decisions that have been made or not made in appropriate times. Removing the dangers of fundamentalism requires therefore the removal of the conditions that gave rise to it. Among the most determining conditions is essentially international economic, social, cultural and political injustice led by the most powerful countries of the world. Another set of conditions can be summed up as the global violation of human dignity of the people by their own political systems under the urge and the protection of the most powerful countries of the world. The last condition is the freedom of the people to make their own political, economic, social and cultural decisions by themselves and not under the various pressures of the interests of the most powerful countries of the world.
Fundamentalism and Reading
What is meant by reading here is not reciting or voicing words and verses. I raise this issue because for some leading Islamic thinkers not everyone can read the Koran and suggest interpretations, exegesis or recommendations on the basis of this reading. Denying the majority of people to read the Koran is one way of excluding them from the circles of those who can make decisions based on the Koran. In my opinion, this attitude is a fundamentalist ideological position which seeks to monopolize the decision making process within the hands of some self declared gatekeepers of the Islamic religion. In this section I will introduce the concept of reading and the conditions for reading any text and the Koran.
Reading is by definition a participative intellectual and cognitive process that is informed by the reader’s experience, values and intentions. As such, every reading is an interpretive approach to the text. When the reader’s experience and cognitive stock include the knowledge of the general and specific conditions under which the text came to being, interpretation can theoretically be closer to the intentions of the text provided the reader shares and/or adheres to the values of the author. In this perspective, the validity and the reliability of a reading depend respectively on the reader’s knowledge of the text conditions and on the extent she/he can maintain methodological neutrality towards the values proposed in the text. In other words, reading is as much a process of informing the text as it is an activity for collecting information from it. What one gets from the text depends on one’s competence to read and what one contributes to the formulation of significance, that is; interpretation depends on one’s ability to control and reduce bias.
Applied to a text taken to be Holy like the Koran, reading becomes an individual effort at making the text release significance within the limits of the knowledge the reader has of the conditions under which it came to being including the values and the intentions it carries. The problem, however, is that while one may assume that the study of history can reveal the social, economic, cultural and political constraints of the time the text came to being, one can hardly assume that there is any science which will help reveal the intentions of an author who is not available, let alone those underlying revelation. In fact, while one can easily suggest a correction to an interpretation which avers to be based on partial knowledge or erroneous information, for instance, by supplying relevant information, one can hardly suppose that the information supplied will not be proven wrong later. In other words, every reading is provisional. At best, interpretation may be but an effort at revealing one of many potential arrays of significance that the knowledge and the experience available to the reader make possible. In this sense, all readings are valid and reliable provided they are rooted in sufficient knowledge and the reader’s values and attitudes are not liable to let bias infiltrate the text.
The knowledge necessary to read a text includes the language, the discourse and the historical context in which it has been written as well as its functional and organic relationships with other texts. In the case of the Koran, the reader needs to have sufficient knowledge of (i) the Arabic language and discourse of the fourteenth century as compared both to their contemporary forms and to the linguistic and discourse structures of other languages, (ii) the history and the status of religions in the Arab peninsula especially in Mecca and Medina, (iii) other Holy books, (iv) the socio-economic and cultural situation of the region, (v) the political conditions under which the Koran was revealed to the people and (vi) the specific occasions in which each aya was revealed.
There are at least four major reasons to read the Koran with these conditions and these constraints. The first reason is lexicological and conceptual. In fact, conceptual references of Arabic words have developed in many ways throughout history changing their semantic and ideological tenure to comfort various interpretation attempts. The second reason is that the compilation of the Koran was neither linear nor chronological. The third reason is that the Koran addresses individuals and groups people. In other words, the reading of the Koran needs to take into account not only the structure of written discourse, but also that of oral discourse. The fourth reason is that the Koran takes up discourse, images, stories and teachings from other Holy books to confirm them, complete them, correct them, extend them, or simply to remind people of them. To read the Koran and make sense of it, one has therefore to be aware of the readings of other Holy books prior to its revelation and to be able to situate it in its own perspective.
It seems that these minimal conditions can ensure as relatively an adequate interpretation and explanation of the Koran as a human being can make. In other words, no prohibition of reading the Koran would be legitimate if the reader meets these requirements and no exclusion from the reading effort can be made on criteria other than knowledge and observation of methodological discipline.
A reader may choose to seek support and assistance in the readings of others just like he may choose not to. In fact, the reader of the Koran does not have to take the interpretations of other readers into account unless he so chooses. Of course, there are highly credible and commendable readers among those who specialized in the Koran and whose writings and attempted interpretations will benefit any reader. This, however, does not mean there are any set interpretations which one has to take for granted. Trying to impose one’s own understanding or reading of the Koran on others is a form of fundamentalism.
 Literally the two true ones.
 In some cases, however, like in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, a minority ruled and imposed its power through violence.
 Verse is perhaps not an adequate translation as it bears the connotation of poetry, rhyming, etc. while the Koran is not poetry. I have chosen “verse” because it is part of the religious identification of specific text units for readers used to the Bible.
 The institution of “Amir Al Muminin” or “The commander of the faithful” as some have referred to the religious authority of the King in Morocco does not pertain to priesthood nor to any exclusive authority to exegesis or to the interpretation of Islamic sources. It is a surveillance or watch function according to which the King makes sure – through consultative councils of learned and knowledgeable scientists – that Muslims in General do not stray in their interpretations and recommendations from the consensual principles of the Malikite option.
The book, Reflections on the formation of Western opinions, stereotypes and attitudes about Islam and Arabs, published in 2005 is based on a series of reports on Cross Culture seminars the author had conducted at LangCom during academic year 2004-2005. Over two hundred participants from various American universities and many Moroccan university students and English language teacher trainees from ENS Rabat took part in these seminars.
The seminars were a rare opportunity for both Moroccan and American participants to exchange ideas, opinions and attitudes about Islam, Arabism, and the various stereotypes that have come to be associated with them especially after the 9/11 aftermath and the two Gulf wars. They have also been an exceptional occasion for the participants to share thoughts and feelings about the various concepts associated with globalization, westernization and the new challenges of the communication era. The chapters are thus to be read as reports of these seminars.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy