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How Morocco plans to contain its Salafists

Several prominent Salafists in Morocco have surprised the nation by joining mainstream political parties.
Moroccan Salafist preacher Hassan al-Kettani speaks during a demonstration against an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. that mocks the Prophet Mohammad outside a mosque in the impoverished Rahma neighbourhood of Sale, September 21, 2012. The banner reads, "There is only one God and Mohammad is his prophet". REUTERS/Stringer (MOROCCO - Tags: RELIGION CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3890E
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RABAT, Morocco — Debate on Salafism emerged in Morocco after the infiltration of North Africa by the Islamic State (IS). Although there are more than 1,000 Moroccans fighting for IS on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, the group enjoys only limited support in Morocco from a small number of sympathizers and Salafist theorists, such as Sheikh Abdul Razzaq Ajha, who was arrested March 6 preparing to travel to Syria, and Fatiha al-Mejjati, who has already reached IS-controlled Raqqa in Syria.

Salafist sheikhs in Morocco are divided between those supporting IS and those who joined pro-regime political parties to oppose the extremist group. Since the release of Abdelkarim Chadli, a hard-line Salafist convicted on terrorism charges in 2003, and other Salafist jihadists from prison in 2011, it appears that the Moroccan government has embarked on a quiet campaign to integrate Salafist theorists into the nation's political life.

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