Morocco handpicks preachers for Europe

Main task will be to fight extremism


Morocco is to send more than 170 preachers throughout Europe from September until Ramadan to protect its citizens from extremist speeches, the government said Wednesday.

The decision follows a request from King Mohammed VI.

The 167 men and nine women have been given the task of "answering to the religious needs of the Moroccan community abroad, to protect them from any speeches of an extremist or irregular nature and shelter them from fanaticism and extremism," according to a government statement.

They must also ensure that expatriate Moroccans remain true to their roots and Malikite traditions and instill in them the values of "good citizenship," the statement added.

The preachers received their instructions at a meeting Wednesday in Rabat with the Minister for Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Taoufiq, and the Secretary General of the Higher Council of Clerics, Mohamed Yessef.

The candidates have been chosen according to strict criteria.

The statement said that apart from being well-versed in teaching and understanding theology, they must be noted for their "good reputation, devout beliefs and high moral standards."

They must also be of good appearance, have impeccable manners and be capable -- both intellectually and physically -- of spreading their message in the best possible way.

Finally, the preachers must know the Quran off by heart, have a good voice, and a good knowledge of the rules that govern reciting the Quran.

One hundred will go to France, 31 to Belgium, 10 each to Italy and Germany and seven each to Spain and the Netherlands.

The rest will be spread between Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Britain. One will also go to Canada.