By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, March 16, 2012
A few days ago, Spain’s national center of intelligence issued a report highlighting the increasing number of Salafists in Morocco’s northern region. In an interview with Islamonline, an expert on Islamist movements considered the report a clear sign that Spain is very concerned about the Salafist movement as a potential threat to its security.
Spain will never forget that the perpetrators of the deadly Madrid train bombings, in March 11, 2004, were Moroccans with Salafist affiliation. As such, Spanish authorities were alarmed by the number of Moroccan Salafists that were released from prison over the past few weeks. Spanish Intelligence Services are believed to be monitoring the activities of religious movements in Morocco.
The Spanish report stated that the majority of Morocco’s 17,000 Salafists live in major cities, such as Casablanca, Rabat, Sale, Marrakech, Tangiers and Fez. The report also classified the Salafists into two categories: an innocuous, Marrakech-based movement led by Mohamed Elmaghraoui and a very active group in Tangiers led by Mohamed El Fizazi. For Spain, the main threat comes from Salafists living in Tangiers and other northern cities.
In response to the report, Sheikh Mohamed El Fizazi challenges the practical and scientific methodology of calculating the number of Salafists and their alleged threat. “The report is full of factual errors and unfounded generalizations,” he stated. The Sheikh added that he does not seek to promote any particular religious movement, as he and his followers are simply Muslims like their counterparts worldwide. He called on all Muslims to unite against unfounded allegations that seek nothing more than to divide Muslims.
In addition to the Sheikh, several experts on Morocco’s Salafist movement have challenged the rumor that there are 17,000 adherents to this brand of Islam. They argue that Spain is grossly inflating the number and overstating the danger in order to justify treating Morocco as a quasi-matter of Spain’s internal policy.
Misrepresenting the number of Moroccan Salafists and using the outdated narrative of “threat to internal security” is Spain’s modus operandi for carefully following developments in the sovereign territory of its southern neighbor.
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