A report by Morocco’s General Commission for the Management of Prisons and Reintegration revealed recently that as many as 26,000 inmates had benefited from an anti-extremism program launched by the Moroccan government in the period between March 2016 and 2018.
It added that the government also launched the second phase of the reconciliation program in May this year.
The program, it added, included seminars against extremism and radicalism. It added that the second phase of the program targeted 300 inmates, noting that most of these inmates were convicted in terrorism-related offences.
The United Nations had provided Morocco with $2 million to use in launching the program and ensure its continuity until 2020.
In August this year, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, pardoned 14 inmates who were put in jail for committing terrorist offences. The pardoned inmates were part of the reconciliation program.
A series of bombings took place in Casablanca in 2003. The bombings were staged by terrorists wearing explosive belts. Casablanca is the largest city in Morocco and the North African country’s economic capital. The attacks left 45 people dead.
The attacks opened the door for the emergence of a number of radical movements in the Moroccan countryside. This encouraged the Moroccan government to take measures to control the religious scene by enlisting the services of a group of policemen with vast religious knowledge.
Morocco did not witness any terrorist attacks after it enlisted the services of these policemen. Only in 2011, a bomb attack was staged on a café in Marrakesh.
In 2004, King Mohammed unveiled an anti-terrorism strategy. The strategy sought to reform the religious establishment, create a counterterrorism police force and address the root causes of terrorism and extremism.
Moroccan researcher Mohamed Bouden said the program is paying off.
“The program had a clear goal, namely the rehabilitation of radical inmates and reintegrating them into society,” Bouden said. “It also sought to turn these inmates into useful members of the Moroccan society.”
He said the religious policemen played a central role in eradicating extremism.
Bouden called for launching more campaigns for the eradication of extremism and the rehabilitation of prisoners.
He said these prisoners can be reintegrated into the labor market, provided that they are placed under tight supervision by security agencies.