Rabat - Following the rise of radical Islam in France, a new Franco-Moroccan statement was signed on Saturday concerning the training of French Imams in Morocco, to promote a tolerant version of Islam.
Rabat – Following the rise of radical Islam in France, a new Franco-Moroccan statement was signed on Saturday concerning the training of French Imams in Morocco, to promote a tolerant version of Islam.
On Saturday, France and Morocco signed a joint statement on cooperation in the training of imams at the Mohammed VI Institute, opened in Rabat in March, during French President Francois Hollande’s visit this weekend.
A report by French news agency AFP said the training will promote “an Islam with the right balance” that conforms to “values of openness and tolerance”.
Over 50 French imams will attend the international institute each year for religious training over the course of three years. A first class of 20 imams joined the Institute at its inauguration in March, while 30 more are expected to begin this month.
The new agreement was hailed by France’s Union of Mosques in France (UMF), reported France’s publication Le Point.
The French outlet quoted UMF head Mohammed Moussaoui as saying, “Through this cooperation between France and Morocco, UMF hopes to meet the immediate needs of training imams and chaplains, and prepare at the same time future teacher training institutions to be created on French territory.”
The Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams was inaugurated in March 2015 by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in the capital, Rabat.
The religious training center aims to instill the values of Morocco’s open, moderate form of Islam, based on the Maliki rite and Sunni Sufism, in the next generation of Muslim religious leaders (imams) and preachers (morchidines and morchidates) from across the region and the world.
The center is a key element in Morocco’s ongoing efforts to promote religious moderation and tolerance as a shield against extremism in the region.
In the aftermath of the January 7 slaughter of 17 people in Paris by Muslim jihadists, the Hollande government announced steps to increase counterterrorism surveillance and to intervene in the classroom to blunt the message of radical Islam.
In February, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called for a push to encourage imams to take university-level civics classes.
Three years ago, Former president Nicolas Sarkozy hinted at growing segregation, singling out as the problem segments of a Muslim population. France’s Muslim population is the largest in Europe, estimated at about 10 percent of France’s 66 million people.
“We do not want on the territory of the French Republic the proliferation of aggressive religion,” he said. “We do not want, for example, that imams can preach violence.”