As global jihadism organizations such as Al Qaeda and Daesh began to surface, the existence of Maghrebians, or people with Tunisian, Algerian or Moroccan origins, in Europe got connected with terrorism in the continent. Maghrebians would often be the first to be blamed for any terrorist activities until proven otherwise.
Western Research Centers obtained recent European media and security reports that focused on the relation between terrorism and Maghrebians in order to prepare studies that would dismantle this relationship and stand on its origins.
This approach only became more solid after some Maghrebians were reported to be involved in some terrorist operations since the appearance of Daesh in June 2014.
Moreover, the U.S. government has been putting Maghrebians on the most wanted terrorists list since the 9/11 attacks; including Tunisian Faker Ben Abdelazziz Boussora who has been sought to have connections with possible terrorist activities within the United States since 2004 with a $5 million bounty on his head by American authorities.
But unfortunately, as the West began to see Maghrebians as terrorists, another significant aspect got forgotten, namely the role that Maghrebi Sufism played to enrich Europe spiritually.
A book released in 2008 by Moroccan researcher Aziz Kabaiti Idrissi under the title “Islamic Sufism in the West: Moroccan Sufi Influence in Britain” addressed the role of Maghrebi Sufism in the West, and particularly, in Britain.
Fawzia Al-Ashmawi, a lecturer on Arabic language and literature at the University of Geneva, wrote an article about the impact of Maghrebi Sufism on a major sector of Western and French intellectuals, and how it converted European women to Islam.
“It is currently noticeable that European intellectuals and thinkers, who often followed the philosophy of seeking facts, developed a tendency towards Islamic Sufism and its spiritual rituals,” Ashmawi said. “Sufism spread among intellectuals and thinkers in France during the early 20s thanks to Maghrebian sheikhs who managed to settle in France and spread their culture,” Ashmawi added as she mentioned French writers Louis Massignon and Henry Corbin and how Sufism influenced them and their writings.
“There are late great stories about Sufi European women such as this woman girl, Lorraine, who got married to a Tidjane (One of the Islam, Sunna paths) sheikh from southern Algeria in 1872 as she was converted to Islam and chose to follow the Tidjane path,” Ashmawi added.
Moreover, Ashmawi stressed that Sufism is still influencing women in European societies as they often search for the missing spiritual aspect in their Western societies, this is about the same explanation to why would some of these women decide to leave their countries and join jihadism organizations in the desert.
According to Ashmawy, European women seek “spirituality”, therefore, they followed Sufism when it appeared in Europe last century, and that is why they did not hesitate to join Daesh.
Saied Menwash, deliverer of the Karkariya way (A Sufism method) in Morocco agreed on Ashmawi’s theory as he told Al-Marjie that wherever Sufism spreads, it becomes so powerful, pointing out to how Sufism managed to influence France in particular.
Menwash also said the Islamophobia phenomenon has been rising since Sufism started to disappear, along with its influence over Europe. He added that terrorists are keen to present themselves as the sole representatives of religion, and that is why the West thinks that Islam is all about these terrorists.