By Mawassi Lahcen
(Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam)
Last month, the government authorities of Netherlands expressed apprehension of terrorism citing concerns over the radicalisation of the youth-turned- Jihadists, coming from and travelling to Syria. This news sounded the alarm bell in the Moroccan expatriate families living in the Netherlands, where extremist groups are aimed at recruiting youth for jihad. Experts fear that these young Moroccan expatriates, who have been radicalised and indoctrinated into extremism, could end up exporting Salafist ideology back to their country threatening Morocco’s security.
Raising the threat level, the National Co-ordinator for Security and Counterterrorism in the Netherlands said on March 13, “Around one hundred individuals have recently left the Netherlands for various African and the Middle East countries, especially Syria.”
Many of these extremists have links with the Jihadist outfit Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Syria after the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's regime. In conflict zones like Syria, Jihadist travellers are getting training and combating experience; hence they can turn out to be a serious threat to the country’s interests. This is pretty self-explanatory that these Jihadist travellers will return to the Netherlands after they have been more radicalised, extremely traumatised and with a stubborn flame of desire to commit violence. Thus, they will pose a serious threat to this country.
This news has triggered a political debate in the Netherlands and resulted into calls for stripping youths of Moroccan origins who fought in Syria of Dutch citizenship. It is something that indicates re-exporting the threat to Morocco. Talking about this situation, a Moroccan researcher specialising in Islamic groups, Mr. Abdellah Rami points out: “The longer the Syrian war is, the better for Salafist Jihadists who are exploiting this war in recruiting the youth”. He further says, “The rapid growth of the Salafist ideology among the Moroccan-origin generation living in Europe is of serious concern, not only for the authorities of host countries, but also for the immigrants' native countries, as these people form a main channel for the transformation of ideas, money and men,".
The recent announcements that 150 Dutch young people of Moroccan origin were found in Syria involved in jihadist activities and that some of them were killed in the on-going war have created waves of shock in Moroccan families in the Netherlands.
Subsequently, activists rushed to organise a meeting at the Great Mosque in Amsterdam on 24th March (Sunday), which was attended by associations of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands, imams of Dutch mosques and some Moroccan families. In this event, seven extremists from the “Sharia for Holland group” also participated to defend their own positions. The participating imams of Dutch mosques refuted extremists’ positions and invited them to an open Fiqh debate about the wrong Fatwas they depend on to foment violence. They issued a joint statement condemning extremist Islamist groups' exploitation and brainwashing of youth in such a manner that completely goes against the principles of Islam which call for peace and tolerance among all people.
The head of Moroccan mosques in the Netherlands Mohamed Cherouti says: “As custodians of mosques and associations, we try to sensitise the youth and warn their fathers and mothers about these ideas that are imported from abroad. We try to make them aware and ask them to be cautious about calls for jihad. We also explain to them the true meaning and conditions of jihad in Islam.” He told al-Magharebia: "For several years, we've been tackling these calls for jihad which target our uneducated youths and cunningly turn them into cannon fodder in wars which they have nothing to do with, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or other countries.’’ Abdou Lemnebhi, the head of the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Immigration and Development, says: “It is time authorities take a stern and decisive stance on these groups to protect our generation from them. With the growth of racism and Islamophobia and rise of the extreme right, these extremist groups are exploiting the identity crisis which our people, especially youth face in the Netherlands.”
He added saying, "We should make our youth understand that the war in Syria is not a war between Kufr (infidelity) and Iman (faith) as the extremists are trying to portray; rather, it is a war for democracy and against the dictatorship."