Research studies

Moroccan women and children in conflict zones: From the return from the detention camps to the de-radicalization and social re-insertion

Prepared by the researcher : Nada Naji

  • PhD student, Laboratory of literature, linguistic, media and communication studies, Faculty of arts and humanities Sais, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University
  • Research visiting fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), The Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, CA. (Spring 2022)
  • Alumni of Lucerne Summer University Ethics in a Global context (LSUE), (Summer 2022)

This research was under the supervision of Dr. Sharad Joshi, associate professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and interim director of the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program as well as Dr. Philipp Bleek, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Democratic Arabic Center

Journal of extremism and armed groups : Thirteenth Issue – November 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN 2628-8389
Journal of extremism and armed groups

:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link

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Abstract

In Syria and Iraq- foreign women and children with alleged Islamist armed groups ties– are being held in the conflict zones, mostly in detention camps. In order to maintain their safety and bring peace and stability to the conflict zones, these women and children need to go back to their home countries.

The subject has been brought up, and different countries had different positions and strategies:

 -Bring all of the citizens at ones: this was the chose of countries that have only few of their people in the conflict zones, -Bring the children only. -Dropping the nationality of the people concerned: this was discussed mainly among European countries.

In Morocco, dropping the nationality or leaving any Moroccan citizen is out of discussion. This means that Morocco has to cone up with it’s own strategy that will allow the return of them all, while respecting the sovereignty of both Syria and Iraq, which is a real challenge given the fact that most of Moroccan detainees are being held in Kurdish camps.

Moreover, the challenge gets more complicated when taking the national and international law that Morocco has to respect during the process, and knowing that the number of detainees is high and their situation varies and raises different judicial questions, we found it safer and more reasonable to look at each case on its own.

In this paper we will look at the Moroccan law and its comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy as well as the programs already established for terrorist detainees. We will then look at the different challenges that Morocco has to face in order to bring back those who are still held in detention camps in the conflict zones of Syria and Iraq, and we will try to order the cases presented into different categories, according to the difficulties and the questions that those cases raise facing the Moroccan law and the international law.

The comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy of Morocco:

Since May 16th 2003 terrorist attack in Casablanca, Morocco started a war against terrorism in what is now known as the “comprehensive strategy against terrorism” that includes security forces empowerments, legislative laws, educational and religious reparations, as well as human development.

Morocco started first with the legislative law by introducing “law 03-03”[1] in May 28th 2003, and the readjustments through the law “86.14” in 2015[2] that enabled the country not only to define what’s considered as a terrorist act and to prosecute terrorists, but also to combat terrorism financing sources, hate speech, and to prosecute terrorists before committing the act when all evidences are gathered.

Second, Morocco worked since 2003 on the rehabilitation of the religious sector by creating a framework for different religious institutions and authorities including mosques and imams, training religious leaders and guiders, enabling women to work in the sector of religious guidance, banning hate speech in mosques, banning home mosques etc[3]… This has not only institutionalized the religious sector, but also made it more possible to control what’s being said and done, and to deter extremists from spreading their ideologies.

Third; because Islam is the main religion in Morocco, it is being thought in mainstream schools as well as in special religious school, luckily, the authorities realized very soon that the teachings given were not always moderate and did not always reflect the national understanding of Islam, and therefore, the country started gradually repairing the educational system and building a new curriculum for schools, and creating an organized framework for the traditional religious schools. The main changes in the curriculum happened in 2017 when many chapters that contain violent verses were taken off.

Fourth, Morocco noticed that the social and economic situation had a role in extremism and therefore started the “national initiative for human development” in three stages (from 2005 to 2010, from 2011 to 2018, and from 2019 to 2023), aiming to improve the social and economic status of the people, with an emphasis on rural areas, youth, women and people with special needs[4].

Detainees:

When it comes to detainees, Morocco has already built a program to deal with those detained due to terrorist and extremist activities. In addition to their right for education, trainings, sports, art and cultural activities, as well as social and psychological support, the institution has built two main initiatives addressing this specific category of detainees: Peer education, and the program “Mosalaha/ reconciliation”.

In peer education, new detainees get to interact with previous detainees and to learn from them how they changed their worldview, and how they shifted from an extremist ideology to a more moderate one and to discuss different issues related to the Islamist questions and positions.

As for the reconciliation initiative, launched in 2017, there are four main goals:

  • The reconciliation with own self
  • The reconciliation with society
  • The reconciliation with the religious texts
  • The reconciliation with the institutions.

These goals are achieved through a developed program, built on workshops, meetings, lectures, and interactive activities dealing with various matters including law, religion, economy, human rights education, sociology, and psychology.  Through this program the detainees get to learn more about extremism and its consequences and impact on the individual, on society, on the nation, and on the world peace. They also get a chance to study religious matters and are provided with a more moderate understanding of different religious concepts and issues.  They are also provided with tools enabling them to integrate society as independent active citizens after regaining their freedom.

As of April 2022, the reconciliation initiative has already started its 9th edition, with 15 new detainees enrolled in the program, which raises the number of the beneficiaries to 222 (since 2017). 159 of the beneficiaries have been released, out of which 116 have been given the royal pardon[5].

Returnees from conflict zones : 

According to a statement made in 2021 by Mohamed Nifaoui, a monitor in the central bureau for judicial investigation, there were 1659 Moroccan fighter in conflict zones, 225 of them had previous cases of terrorism, and 745 died there by committing suicide bombings in Syria and Iraq. The central bureau for judicial investigation treated 137 cases of returnees:  115 case from Syria and Iraq, 14 from Libya, and 8 returned from Syria. As for Women, 288 joined conflict zones in Syria and Iraq and only 99 of them returned to Morocco. While children number reached 391, only 82 of them returned[6]. Out of 1659, 345 fighters came back to Morocco and faced charges, but 250 Moroccan fighters are detained in conflict zones (232 in Syria, 12 in Iraq and 6 in Turkey).[7]

All of the returning fighters do indeed face prosecution, and would have the chance to benefit from the reconciliation program. Yet, women are rarely convicted, and most of them, especially those who were widowed in conflict zones, face no prosecution. All children are seen as victims as well and face no prosecution.

And while many voices in Morocco, called for dropping Moroccan nationality and preventing terrorists and their families from returning back home, Moroccan authorities, wisely, decided that this would be unethical and although these citizens have committed crimes, it would be non-human to drop their nationality and prevent them from returning back to home. As wise as this decision could be, it still puts us in front an ethical dilemma; On the one hand, it is the right of these women and children not only to return to their home land, enjoy its security and retrieve all their human rights, but also to be accepted in society and to be protected from any kind of intolerance or prejudice. But on the other hand, it is also the right of society to feel secure and to be preserved from any future radicalization threat, from possible violent acts and extremism crimes, especially that most children of IS fighters in Syria and Iraq were enrolled in schools directed the terrorist group and had their own curriculum, also made by the group.  Furthermore, the male children were trained in a special program called “the cubs of the Islamic State”. IS in contrast to Al Qaeda, believed that women can fight as well, and thus provided them with a special training as well. The ideology, trauma and violence both women and children experienced added to the military training they both had, make of them possible threats to the stability and security of society.  Therefore it is important to look at the various cases of the returnees, the challenges they impose, and to study how to welcome them back without putting society in danger.

In order to deal with the issue, the paper will first look at the judicial, ethical and security questions Morocco is facing when dealing with the returnees both women and children, and then look at the possible solutions that can assure a successful re-insertion into society.

Women returning to Morocco from conflict zones:

For many, making a difference between men and women when it comes to committing any kind of crimes might seem ridiculous and unfair. But it is essential to keep in mind the circumstances of the crimes and the motives as well.

In Morocco, various efforts have been made throughout the years in order to assure equality between men and women through the modification of many old laws that used to be discriminative to some extent, as well as the enforcement of a new set of laws that not only protect women’s rights on different levels, but also empowers women when it comes to the “family code” set of laws.

Yet, those laws have not yet made their way into the social culture in Morocco, especially within the popular class and the religious extremists, where men are still dominant and women are still expected to obey the male figures (first their fathers, then their brothers, and their  husbands once they get married).

Due to this social culture, that still pushes women to follow their husbands –the decision makers in the family- difference must be made when dealing with women returning from conflict zones between: women who decided to go to the conflict zones, and those who were forced to go, as well as between women who used to be active fighters and those who were not. The Moroccan law 86.14[8] concerning terrorism has indeed taken that in consideration. And although such a distinction is indeed rightful, it is very hard to decide the category in which each woman falls, as most of them if not all claim that they were forced to join their husbands and that they did not participate in any crimes while in the conflict zones. This is creating a problem when dealing with ethics, law and society; if what they are claiming is true then it would be unfair to convict them, if it’s not and they are not convicted then we would be not only disregarding the law, but also putting society in a real danger of radicalization, extremism and future possible terrorist threat.

With that being said there are 138 women held in conflict zones, 134 of them are in camps controlled by Kurdish forces. Morocco as country respects other countries sovereignty and cannot negotiate with groups considered as insurgents or separatists by governments of the country. Therefore the authorities are incapable to call the Kurdish forces to transport the detainees or to enter in any kind of negotiation or conventions.

As complicated as the situation already is, it is always possible to find a way to reach out to the Kurdish forces and try to bring back Moroccan detainees to their homeland, especially that this would also mean less stress and security issues in the camps themselves, and less people to worry about for the Kurdish forces. Some of the possible scenarios to achieve the returning of the detainees could be:

  • The interference of international organizations such as the United Nations and the Red Cross.
  • The creation of an international organization for the occasion that can mediate between the Kurdish forces and the different countries wishing the return of their citizens.
  • Using an allied country that has political relations with the Kurds as a mediator.
  • Adjusting the local law in a way that would allow such negotiations either with Moroccan institutions or with civil society and national organizations.

When it comes to Iraqi and Syrian governments, Morocco has no judicial-cooperation convention with Iraq to enable the Moroccan authorities to bring back Moroccan detainees. And the convention signed with Syria in this regards in 2011 has not been implemented yet.

The implementation of the convention with Syria and the building of a convention with Iraq would be the best option that Morocco has when it comes to bringing detainees from Syria and Iraq.

Once in Morocco, the question of whether these women have committed crimes in the conflict zones and whether they had military training must be answered. Since it would be hard to find proofs for each individual, authorities can focus on the leaders, who should be convicted and sent to prison according to the law if evidence is there. As for all the others, whether with kids, or without kids, they are all ought to be sent to special re-insertion and de-radicalization centers, who must be build and equipped for the occasion, and would have a special program to follow until they are judged, by specialists, that they are no more dangerous for society, and that they are ready to integrate it and become active civilians.

(More details on the perceptions we have concerning those centers, the programs that could be provided are to be found towards the conclusion)

Children returning to Morocco from conflict zones:

When it comes to Children in conflict zones, according to the press conference held by the “the exploratory mission to determine the situation of Moroccan children and women in some conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq”,   there are  400 under-aged children, out of which only 153 were proven to be born in Morocco[9]. Those children have different situations and each situation raises its own problems. The Moroccan committee has gathered all the data it could gather up till now into four main cases:

Case 1: there are children from Moroccan fathers but their mothers are not Moroccan. And while their mothers request Moroccan authorities to bring them and their children to Morocco, and the Moroccan law does support that, the situation of the children themselves is not regulated by the law either because the marriage was certified by a non-state actor such as the Islamic State (IS/Daesh) or because it was made in the Islamic way which is by reading verses of the “Fatiha chapter” from the Quran and the presence of some testifiers. Both of these means are not considered legal and are not accepted by the Moroccan law.

Case 2: The mother is from another nationality and there is no proof of the child’s father being Moroccan, or the father is unknown.

Case 3: Both parents either died or disappeared and the children were left with another family that claims that either both of the parents or just the father was Moroccan, but without any documents or data supporting such a statement.

Case 4: Children who were taken to the battle fields with the mother while the father stayed in Morocco. The mother died in the conflict zones, the children are left with other families and the father is demanding the return of his children.

These four cases put us in front of many questions:

1/ How should Morocco deal with the marriage certificates that are not considered legal? Should Morocco bring back those children and their mothers even though there is no proof supporting the child’s Moroccan nationality? In this case, what would be their judicial status in Morocco? And how to deal with other governments (for example with the Syrian government if the mother is Syrian?)?

2/ Should children be brought back without the mothers? In this case, who would be the care giver for those children?

3/ Should the children who were left with other families get back to Morocco? And who should Morocco address for this matter? What would be their judicial status in Morocco?

4/Should their return be refused? What if they are indeed Moroccans and all their claims were true? And whether they are indeed of Moroccan nationality or not, who should take care of them?

And while the committee has done a great job in gathering data, it is important to keep in mind that these pieces of information are not complete and that other cases can appear later on, it is for this reason that I decided to put as many possible scenarios as possible and try to study each case at its own.

When it comes to these children it would be important to organize the cases into categories.

  • The first category would include:
  • Children who were born in Morocco, and left to the conflict zones either with one or both parents.
  • Children who were born in the conflict zones with one or both parents being of Moroccan nationality and got married in Morocco.
  • Children who were born in other countries with one or both parents being of Moroccan nationality and got married in other countries recognized by Moroccan authorities.
  • Children who were born in the conflict zones with one or both parents being of Moroccan nationality and got married in other countries recognized by Moroccan authorities.

The Moroccan law concerning nationality has been adjusted in the recent years to allow both parents (and not only the father) to pass the Moroccan nationality to their children. Therefore as long as the marriage is recognized by authorities, the passing of nationality can be done from either side. And even if the administrative measures has not been done to ask for the nationality, as long as there is proof of one parent being Moroccan it is always possible to take the necessary measures and obtain the nationality.

  • The second category would be children issued of non-recognized marriages (religious marriages) inside of Morocco.

Although the Moroccan law does not recognize religious marriages, the authorities realized that such cases are still prevalent in Morocco and had sat-up a set of administrative measure to regularize their situation. If both parents are still alive they can be given the chance to regularize their situation as well as the situation of their children, if one of the parents is dead, it is always still easy to track both parents, and interview their relatives and witnesses before proceeding with the administrative measures.

  • The third category would be children issued of non-recognized marriages (religious marriages) outside of Morocco, or under the authority of a non-recognized actor (ex: the Islamic State) and who have one or both parents proven to be Moroccan.

In case the Moroccan parents are known the nationality of the child can be verified either through the parents themselves, otherwise it could be verified through their extended families through DNA tests.  Yet, as discussed above, the Moroccan law does not recognize religious marriages whether made in Moroccan territory or outside of it, in addition, Morocco also respects the sovereignty of other states and does not recognize documents from separatists and terrorist movements or other unrecognized actors, this includes not only the Islamic state but all the other groups in the conflict zones considered as terrorist or separatist including Cham-Al-Islam movement (made mainly of Moroccans).

Those children do have proof of Moroccan nationality, but do not have a legal status as they are issued from illegal marriages –according to the Moroccan national law-. Their situation can be solved by tracing proof of the marriage. And taking the information contained into consideration.

In case the parents are still alive they can be offered to adjust their situation and the situation of their children.

If only one parent is still alive they could be offered to adjust their situation and the situation of the children following a special set of redirections made exclusively for such cases.

In case none of the parents are still alive, the information must be taken into consideration and investigation must be done when it comes to extended families and relatives. If any of them want to take care of the children, the children must be sent to their extended family members. If none of them is willing to do that, the children still get sent to the country – Morocco- and are given -exceptional- Moroccan nationality and put into the care system.

  • The fourth category will include :
  • Children issued from non-recognized mixed marriages and the Moroccan partner died or disappeared, and the children are left with the non-Moroccan partner with no proof of their partner being Moroccan.
  • Children who were left with other families after the death or disappearance of both parents, claiming that one or both parents are of Moroccan nationality but have no proof of it.

In this case looking for the extended families is the best choice, in order to do a DNA test and see if the possibility is there. If not the question would be: should we risk leaving a Moroccan in conflict zones? Or should we risk bringing a non-Moroccan to the country?

If the children have extended family members asking for their return to Morocco then it is safe to just bring them back home.

If DNA tests prove that the tested children are Moroccan, but they have no extended family members willing to take care of them, they can be brought back to Morocco, and put into a care system.

If DNA tests cannot be made due to the absence of close relatives but have Moroccans who claim they are far-relatives and are willing to provide care for them, then this must be taken into consideration and their transportation should be facilitated by Moroccan authorities as long as there are no foreign authorities claiming the children.

  • The fifth category would be children with unknown parents: this includes mainly children who might be either found or left during emergencies with other families without much explanation or information.

This category does not concern Morocco as a country in particular, but it concerns the international community as a whole. Morocco as country must also study what to do in such a situation and what responsibilities it could take, and what contributions it could provide.

If the children have no proof of being Moroccan, and have no one to take decisions for them, and choose Morocco as a destination then this can be provided through a new care system as long as there are no foreign authorities claiming the children to be of their nationality.

The international community might as well create an international organization dedicated for orphan children who have no families to take care of them and no known relatives outside of the conflict zones. Those children can be sent to different countries where they can be taken care of. The choice of countries could be based on countries willingness to help solve the issue and the standards put by each country, it should also be based on the children’s familiarity with the culture, language etc, as well as their own choice and agreement.

With that being said there are also a bunch of ethnicity blood tests that can be done in order to figure out the nationality or ethnicity of those children, and they may be sent or provided the nationality of the highest background rate that they scored.

Conclusions:

In Syria and Iraq- women and children linked to Islamist armed– are held in conflict zones, mostly in detention camps, and need to go back to their homelands, both for their personal safety and in order to bring peace and stability to the conflict zones.

When the subject is brought up different countries have different positions and strategies, some chose to bring all of their citizens at ones, those are countries that have only few of their people in the conflict zones, some decided to only bring the children, while some western countries started to think of dropping the nationality of the people concerned.

For Morocco, it is out of question to leave anyone behind, and the dropping of nationality is not even an option, which is why it has become essential to think of different ways to bring everyone back to the country, while respecting the sovereignty of both Syria and Iraq, a matter that proves to be really challenging since most of Moroccan detainees are held in Kurdish camps.

It is also important to respect the national and the international laws while in the process, and given the fact that the situations of the women and children in question varies and raises different judicial question, it is safer and more reasonable to look at each case on its own.

When it comes to Women, the main challenge for Morocco would be to determine who participated in violent acts and had military training and who didn’t. Such a distinction is hard to make without a proof, and need investigation on each individual; it would take much time, efforts, and could lead to no clear answer. For all of this we decided that it would be better to focus on finding proof for women who had leadership roles so that they can be convicted accordingly. As for the rest, whether with kids or without them, we recommended that those women – accompanied with the children- be put in de-radicalization centers, where they can provided with social and psychological support in order to overcome the trauma they went through, and where they can benefit from a various set of programs that would enable them to change their radical understanding of the Islamic religious teachings and positions, to re-integrate society and be active independent citizens. (More details on our perception of such a de-radicalization center in the following annex).

When it comes to Children, the question of military training also raises, alongside with much more complicated questions regarding their identity, nationality and legal status. The cases of children could be put into five categories that require different procedures:

  • The first category would include children with known parents and who have all the necessary proves of being Moroccan
  • The second category would be children issued of non-recognized marriages (religious marriages inside of Morocco.
  • The third category would be children issued of non-recognized marriages (religious marriages) outside of Morocco, or under the authority of a non-recognized actor (ex: the Islamic State)) and who have one or both parents proven to be Moroccan.
  • The fourth category includes children from known parents without proof of parenthood nor the existence of the parents.
  • The fifth category would be children with unknown parents: this includes mainly children who might be either found or left with other families without much explanation or information in emergencies.

While the paper focused more on the legal questions raised, the challenges facing Morocco and the different ways the country can deal with each situation, it is also important to keep in mind that those women and children have been in extreme situations in the conflict zones facing death – and possibly committing crimes themselves-, before being held captive in detention camps where they were/are suffering from hunger, mistreatment, illnesses and psychological issues mainly trauma. It is therefore essential to think of a comprehensive de-radicalization program as well as social and psychological support services that would accompany the returnees in their journey towards re-insertion in the Moroccan society and the global community as a whole.

Acknowledgment:

This project would not have been possible without the support of many people.

Many thanks to all the academic and administrative team of LSUE for their generosity and willingness to help.

Thank you to Prof. Dr. Peter G. Kirchschlaeger, the Director of the Institute of Social Ethics ISE, for his constant help and support.

Many thanks to my parents, my brother and June for their patience and support.

Declaration of interest statement:

No conflict of interest to declare.

References :

  • Dahir number 1-03-140, Rabii the first 26, 1424 Hijra, May 28th, 2003, to put into force the law 03-03 regarding counter-terrorism (Arabic):

http://adala.justice.gov.ma/production/legislation/ar/penal/luttecontreleterrorisme.htm

  • Law 86.14 in the official journal, number 6365, June 1st 2015 (Arabic)

http://www.sgg.gov.ma/BO/Ar/2015/BO_6365_Ar.pdf

  • ظهير شريف رقم  1.03.193 ، 4 ديسمبر2003 ،في شأن اختصاصات وتنظيم وزارة الأوقاف والشؤون الإسلامية، موقع الجريدة الرسمية عدد 5172 ،25 ديسمبر 2003 م.

http://adala.justice.gov.ma/production/html/Ar/liens/..%5C151166.htm

  • The official web site of the national initiative for human development

http://www.indh.ma/

  • Moroccan press agency, April 28th 2022

 222 مستفيدا من برنامج ” مصالحة ” إلى حدود دورته التاسعة (المندوب العام لإدارة السجون(، الوكالة المغربية للأنباء، 28 أبريل 2022.

https://www.mapnews.ma/ar/actualites/مجتمع/222-مستفيدا-من-برامج-مصالحة-إلى-حدود-دورته-التاسعة-المندوب-العام-لإدارة-السجون

  • المملكة المغربية تعتمد مقاربة أمنية شاملة ومندمجة ومتعددة الأبعاد لمواجهة المخاطر الارهابية (مسؤول)، وكالة المغرب العربي للأنباء، 17 ماي 2021

https://www.mapnews.ma/ar/actualites/سياسة/المملكة-المغربية-تعتمد-مقاربة-شاملة-ومندمجة-ومتعددة-الأبعاد-لمواجهة-المخاطر

  • Press conference :

المهمة الاستطلاعية للوقوف على وضعية الأطفال والنساء المغاربة في بعض بؤر التوتر كسوريا والعراق، 16 يوليوز 2021.

  • الاستراتيجية القضائية لمكافحة ظاهرة المقاتلين الإرهابيين الأجانب، HAMZA ES SAID، Magistrat détaché au M.J.LDirection des Affaires Pénales et des Graces.

https://ma.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/153/Hamza-MOROCCOحي-الرياض-.ppt

Annexe : Perception on the future de-radicalization center project :

Title:

De-radicalization center for youth and women coming from IS detention camps to Morocco.

Description:

Morocco has started receiving families of Islamic State fighters who were in detention camps in Syria back to Morocco. Most of women and all children are seen as victims and have not/will not be charged, as it is understood that most decision were taken by the husbands as a leaders of the family. The return of those individuals puts us in front of an ethical dilemma:

1- The ethical responsibility to preserve children and women’s rights, to help them integrate society without prejudice, and help them overcome their trauma.

2- The ethical responsibility to protect society from possible future threat, especially given the fact that those children and women lived under special violent circumstances, held an extremist understanding of Islam as a religion and all what that implies of distorted definitions of different concepts such as: society, human rights, law, state/country/nationality, duty/obligations, etc..

For all of that, a de-radicalization center would be essential to meet both ethical responsibilities and ensure that children and women’s rights will be preserved and to ensure their re-/insertion into society as active citizens without putting society in danger of a possible future threat and risking the propagation of radicalization.

Beneficiaries expected: 600 person.

Details:

According to current data, around 600 beneficiaries -at most- (Women and children) are expected to come back from Syria and Iraq. This number is subject to change as more data can be gathered later. The number could either increase in case new data about other camps appear, or might decrease in case some of the detainees are killed –either due to illnesses or attacks- while still in detention camps in the conflict zones.

Location: Rabat

Details:

Because such a center would be a new project for Morocco, and due to the lack of trained experienced professionals in the field it would be best to centralize all the effort, and gather all capacities within one main center localized in the capital, Rabat or its surroundings (the closest to nature and remote areas the best.).

In the case where more terrorist groups emerge and more de-radicalization centers are needed, other centers can be built later in the future, in different regions of the country, in order to answer to the needs, and to keep each person close to their cities.

Schedule: between 8 months and 12 months

Building such a center should take months, but Morocco has already proven that during emergencies, even the finest most well equipped buildings can be built in less than a month.

In fact, in 2020, Morocco has been able to build a well equipped temporary hospital in only 6 days, in response to the Corona virus pandemic. This proves that if work is accelerated a well structured and equipped center of almost 10,000 square feet could be built between 8 months and 12 months, after getting the building permit, and with a crew of 10 people working 5 days a week, and a green space from 1500 to 2000 square feet.

Estimated budget: The estimated budget will be determined once the project is discussed for implementation. The estimation will be made by specialists.

Services:

The center will work with children and women on different levels:

  • Education level: including schooling for children and literacy courses for illiterate women, human rights education, media education, citizenship education, art education (All of which will be done while keeping in mind their background and understanding of religious teachings).
  • Religious studies: in which they will get introduced to a more moderate understanding of Islam teachings from specialized scholars.
  • Psychological and social support: in order to help them overcome their trauma and psychological issues, and help them find their path in society.
  • Volunteer and social events: through which they will be participating in helping and preserving their community/city/ country.
  • Special courses and trainings for women to help them get a job after completion, to be independent and active in society.
  • Listening center: that enables citizens to participate in the prevention of radicalization through a “see something, say something” policy.

Specialists:

  • Social support team: four teams working interchangeably each made of two specialists (one female and one male) and 6 assistants (3 females and 3 males)
  • Psychological support team: four teams working interchangeably each made of two specialists (one female and one male) and 6 assistants (3 females and 3 males) .

Details:

The need for four teams for both social and psychological support is due to the fact that those support teams must be available 24/7 (6 hours of work for each team due to the stressful nature of the job).

The need for 6 assistants in each team is just to assure the ability to answer all the needs of the beneficiaries.

The need for two specialists in each team, and the diversity of their genders as well as that of the assistants, is first all in order to implement the equality principle, and second it is due to the fact that the center will be hosting both women and their children. Due to their religious understanding as well as cultural backgrounds, women and their daughters would most likely prefer to deal with female specialists, while young men, despite their young age being just children, would most likely still prefer to deal with a male specialist.

Such preferences might change as they keep going with the de-radicalization process.

Some children and women are expected to have re-verse reactions to what they have experienced due to their old views and might feel the need to go against the “old” them, but preferring to deal with the opposite gender.

  • Educational team: Will have experienced teachers of all levels (nursery, elementary, secondary and high school teachers) within the formal educational curriculums for the children, as well as literacy programs certified teachers for illiterate women, as for those who have already graduated and wish to continue their higher education in universities, they will have the opportunity to enter the faculty or institution of their choice and follow their courses either inside the classroom (if the institution of their choice is close, or remotely if it is in a far city).

Details:

The children will be at first attending their classes inside of the de-radicalization center until they are re-integrated and de-radicalized, in order to assure that they would not have any influence on other children. They will later have the chance to join classroom in chosen schools, where they will be closely monitored until specialist assess that the children have fully successfully re-integrated society and are no more considered as a radicalization threat.

Women are allowed to join universities if they wish, due to the fact that university students are adults and not easily influenced by others. With that being said, these women will also be closely monitored in order to prevent any possible threatening activities.

  • Continuous education: Will be offering: media education, art education and sports, human rights education, citizenship education.

Details:

In addition to formal education and illiteracy program, the center will also provide its beneficiaries with other modules that will help them cope with their trauma and exteriorize their anger, refusal, grievance such as art education and sports, as well as modules that will help them protect themselves from false news, propaganda and radicalization through media literacy and media education. Other modules will be provided in order to facilitate their re-insertion into society and open their horizons into acceptance of difference and tolerance and active positive citizenship, through human rights education, and citizenship education.

  • Special courses and trainings: Will be offered to women in order for enable them to enter the job market, and re-integrate society as active independent citizens.

Details:

These courses are already offered in various governmental and private institutions, as well as within the framework of different organizations working for women empowerments. Women at the center will have a wide range of choices and can apply to any of the trainings provided.

They will have the opportunity to follow the classes in person, if it is close to or in Rabat, or remotely in case the courses are given in far cities. Those attending in person will be closely monitored.

In the event of women wishing to learn other skills that are not provided by any of the offered institutions, the center can work on providing these classes either for a group or an individual either through partnerships, or by paying a specialist in the field chosen.

  • Religious team: Will be composed of trained religious figures and guides both males and females in order to discuss religious issues and understandings with the beneficiaries and convince them of a more tolerate understanding of the Islamic teachings. Those specialists are already trained by the governmental institutions and already have experience with extremist detainees in prisons within the program “Mosalaha/ reconciliation”.
  • Civil society projects coordinators: Different projects will be put in place in cooperation with national and international civil society actors (associations, organizations, networks) in various fields: music and arts, volunteering, workshops etc.
  • Listening center team: 4 teams of one male and one female working interchangeably, both in receiving civilians and answering phone calls.

Details:

The need for 4 teams is in order to provide the service 24/7, each team will be working for 6 hours due to the stressful nature of the job. Both genders are represented in each team in order to ensure gender equality and to respect the choice of citizens and encourage them to call or contact the center whenever they need guidance or witness suspected activities.

[1] Dahir number 1-03-140, Rabii the first 26, 1424 Hijra, May 28th, 2003, to put into force the law 03-03 regarding counter-terrorism (Arabic):

http://adala.justice.gov.ma/production/legislation/ar/penal/luttecontreleterrorisme.htm

[2] Law 86.14 in the official journal, number 6365, June 1st 2015, P: 5490 (Arabic)

http://www.sgg.gov.ma/BO/Ar/2015/BO_6365_Ar.pdf

[3] ظهير شريف رقم  1.03.193 ، 4 ديسمبر2003 ،في شأن اختصاصات وتنظيم وزارة الأوقاف والشؤون الإسلامية، موقع الجريدة الرسمية عدد 5172 ،25 ديسمبر 2003 م.

http://adala.justice.gov.ma/production/html/Ar/liens/..%5C151166.htm

[4] The official web site of the national initiative for human development

http://www.indh.ma/

[5] Moroccan press agency, April 28th 2022

 222 مستفيدا من برنامج ” مصالحة ” إلى حدود دورته التاسعة (المندوب العام لإدارة السجون(، الوكالة المغربية للأنباء، 28 أبريل 2022.

https://www.mapnews.ma/ar/actualites/مجتمع/222-مستفيدا-من-برامج-مصالحة-إلى-حدود-دورته-التاسعة-المندوب-العام-لإدارة-السجون

[6] المملكة المغربية تعتمد مقاربة أمنية شاملة ومندمجة ومتعددة الأبعاد لمواجهة المخاطر الارهابية (مسؤول)، وكالة المغرب العربي للأنباء، 17 ماي 2021

https://www.mapnews.ma/ar/actualites/سياسة/المملكة-المغربية-تعتمد-مقاربة-شاملة-ومندمجة-ومتعددة-الأبعاد-لمواجهة-المخاطر

[7] Press conference :

المهمة الاستطلاعية للوقوف على وضعية الأطفال والنساء المغاربة في بعض بؤر التوتر كسوريا والعراق، 16 يوليوز 2021.

[8] الاستراتيجية القضائية لمكافحة ظاهرة المقاتلين الإرهابيين الأجانب، HAMZA   ES SAID، Magistrat détaché au M.J.LDirection des Affaires Pénales et des Graces.

https://ma.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/153/Hamza-MOROCCOحي-الرياض-.ppt

[9] Press conference :

المهمة الاستطلاعية للوقوف على وضعية الأطفال والنساء المغاربة في بعض بؤر التوتر كسوريا والعراق، 16 يوليوز 2021.

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المركز الديمقراطى العربى

المركز الديمقراطي العربي مؤسسة مستقلة تعمل فى اطار البحث العلمى والتحليلى فى القضايا الاستراتيجية والسياسية والاقتصادية، ويهدف بشكل اساسى الى دراسة القضايا العربية وانماط التفاعل بين الدول العربية حكومات وشعوبا ومنظمات غير حكومية.

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