UNESCO in Morocco: Extremism Prevention
The Kingdom of Morocco seeks to prevent violent extremism through education and cultureJune 20th, 2017
On May 23rd, 2017, King Mohammed VI of Morocco and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, visited together Al Quaraouiyine University in Fez, considered by UNESCO and Guinness Records as the oldest university in the world.
During the visit they exchanged ideas concerning the Moroccan National Plan on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education and Culture. For almost two decades, Morocco has been preventing extremism and promoting an open Islam based on tolerance. The King summarizes the aims of the Plan as follows: "Immunizing the religious field against violent extremism and ostracism."
The plan also includes the rehabilitation of different madrasas in the country, not only because they are an integral part of Morocco’s cultural heritage and because their architecture deserves special protection as pointed out by the press release of the Moroccan delegation to the UNESCO in Paris, but also because madrasas has a positive spiritual sphere that is a key factor to eliminate hate and misunderstanding between cultures.
Mrs. Irina Bokova emphasized by her part the importance of “learning about the history of Islam and its values, architecture, calligraphy and immense contribution to the history of humanity as a source of dialogue and dignity… We certainly need ‘hard power’ to respond (extremism), but this is not enough. We also have to win the battle of ideas to prevent a threat that draws on false interpretations of faith and history. This battle is an educational and cultural battle, and UNESCO plays a central role here”.
These words clearly represent Pro. Joespeh Nye's definition of soft power, and Morocco has a great opportunity to lead different initiatives and disseminates its best practices not only to the Arab world, but also to the African continent, where the nation has been a bridge in other aspects throughout history.