Lifestyle & Belief

Moroccan women vs Islamic extremism

A group of women hands out bread, milk and yogurt to a sick man lying on a hospital bed. These women are a regular fixture at this hospital�they're female preachers who have completed a training program run by the Moroccan government. This woman became a preacher two years ago and she tells me it's a dream job. There are now 200 female preachers in Morocco and the government pays them each about $450 dollars a month, a good middle class salary here. They work in economically depressed regions though to be fertile recruiting grounds for religious extremists. The director of the program in Rabat says female preachers play an important role in counter terrorism strategy, for instance when they speak to women in mosques. Violence is a big concern for the Moroccan government. The government has blamed Islamic extremists for violence and has arrested thousands of suspects and also has intensified efforts to bring religion under government control. And it's not only about countering terrorism, many women come to the women preachers with questions about their rights under Moroccan law. But some in Morocco aren't so comfortable with the women preachers. This non violent political party is banned by the government and this representative says she doesn't mind women preachers, but she does mind the government intervention in her religion. The women preachers don't see a conflict in serving their religion and the government. After all there's no separation of Church and State in Morocco.

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