By Siham Ali
A new website was launched last month to cover religious affairs in Morocco. Magharebia sat down with Mountassir Hamada, the manager of Islam-Maghribi.com, to discuss the new site’s offerings, ranging from research to news of the “Arab Spring”.
Magharebia: Will your website be open to all Islamic currents or only to moderate ones?
Mountassir Hamada: The website is mainly topical, which requires it to be open to all religious currents in Morocco. There is one thing that we won’t allow anyone to promote: the discourse of insults and profanity.
As to criticism and opinions, these things are specifically part of the website project. The proof is that it covers development of religious affairs, especially Islam, whether it is related to Islamic movements (preaching-related, political and jihadist), Sufi orders, salafist currents, or official religious institutions in Morocco (Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Arrabita Al Mohamadia of Ulema, Higher Council of Ulema, Dar el Hadith el Hassania, etc.).
The website also provides research services, such as studies, books and documents that can be downloaded, mainly for students, researchers and people concerned. This is in addition to regular sections related to “revisions” made by Islamic movements and salafist currents in the Moroccan and Arab scenes in particular. In addition, there are opinion articles and studies on Arab and Islamic religious affairs, and news on Christianity and Judaism.
The website sections include opinion articles, reality of Islamic minorities in the West, women’s issues in Islam (Women’s Islam, Islamist women activists, Muslim women in the West,) etc. We also cover issues on Shias, Shiism, and Islamic-secular dialogue. It also includes news on the latest releases of books, magazines and newspapers on religious affairs, both inside and outside Morocco, as well as other chapters.
Magharebia: In your opinion, what is Moroccan Islam? Is it moderate Islam which is being promoted on the official level?
Hamada: On the home page, we pointed out that the name, “Moroccan Islam,” isn’t aimed at reducing Islam to “Moroccanisation” or “country-specific level” or anything of the sort. We just wanted to show that the website is concerned with Moroccan religious affairs in all of their movements, whether official or related to Islamic movements and parties, or others, such as salafist and Sufi religiosity, etc.
In other words, the website is not concerned with defending a specific pattern of religiosity, including religiosity promoted by most official religious institutions, given that there are actually many media forums that are concerned with this issue. It is neither necessarily concerned with promoting other patterns of religiosity, whether Sufi or salafist trends; rather, it is only concerned with closely following shifts and developments related to these trends.
Magharebia: What are your expectations? To change prejudices?
Hamada: Let’s start by defining the website target audience. We can summarise in one sentence “to whom it may concern,” whether religious decision-makers, followers of Islamic movements, Sufi orders and salafist currents, researchers, journalists, or all those concerned with the conditions of religiosity in Morocco in particular, and Arab and Islamic worlds in general.
As to our aspirations, we just want to create a reference point website in dealing with the religious phenomenon to the nucleus of a centre for studies and research specialised in religious affairs and independent from official institutions and Islamic parties and currents.