Dr Ahmed Abbadi heads the Mohammedan League of Scholars in Morocco. The League operates 15 centres around Morocco which engage in research and training on religious issues. As part of these efforts, graduate students in Islamic fields are trained to deconstruct extremist arguments and work directly with people in disadvantaged areas where extremists may recruit.
On 31 October, Dr Abbadi gave a public lecture at CAIS. The lecture attracted a sizable and diverse audience comprised of members of the diplomatic community, public servants, students and members of the public.
Dr Abbadi is an expert on soft security measures to counter terrorist messages and propaganda. In his lecture, he attempted to explain how in recent years, radical religious organisations have been making headway in their efforts to recruit new followers to their extremist causes. Harnessing new technologies, decentralised groups like ISIS or ‘Daesh’, can now spread their messages across borders, using the same video technology and social media channels young people access in their every day lives. He said the challenge was not to react blindly to these extremist narratives, but instead, to take control of the narrative itself.
Dr Abbadi stressed the need to restore equilibrium, order and authenticity in teaching programs dedicated to combating extremism. He said it is essential in addressing various marginal behaviours, capacity-building and preparing a homogeneous generation of intellectuals and scholars. Such endeavours seek to protect the young people from misguided ideas and extremism.
Dr Abbadi elaborated on the need to dismantle the powerful slogans and false claims with which ISIS seeks to attract the youth when it comes to matters dealing with major necessities of life: the preservation of religion, life, intellect, lineage and wealth, all of which ISIS violates, infringes and offends. He explained how the Kingdom of Morocco is exerting a great deal of effort to care for these necessities through enforcing the function of the state and its role to ensure the safety of its people, care for their security and secure and develop their living conditions.
According to Dr Abbadi, Da'ish is branding itself as a solution to the many disappointments and injustices experienced by the people of the region. Many recipients of the group's propaganda are, among other things, frustrated by the region's wars, the issue of Israel, the perceived humiliation of Muslims in the media and online, the draining of the region's wealth, colonialism, the destruction of traditional value systems, and the perceived conspiracy to weaken the Muslim world.
The utopian dreams of naïve individuals are precisely what Da'ish is capitalising on. The dreams of unity, dignity and (religious) purity, he noted, have all been hijacked by the group in order to facilitate its existence. Da'ish is trying to collect all those dreams, and brand them as being theirs. To counter the Da'ish narrative Dr Abbadi said it's important that curricula and programs in undistorted interpretations of the Qur'an be available for young people.