Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 August 2019

Pope to visit Moroccan imam school to boost moderate Islam

The visit comes on the heels from Pope Francis' visit to the UAE

Pope Francis waves to worshipers in the Vatican. AFP
Pope Francis waves to worshipers in the Vatican. AFP

Pope Francis will meet migrants in Morocco and visit a training institute for imams that seeks to counter extremism during his March 30-31 visit to the North African nation.

The Vatican on Saturday released the schedule for the pope's trip to Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

It comes after Francis' recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he signed a landmark "fraternity" document with a leading imam and sought to encourage moderate Islam and interfaith ties.

During his visit, Francis will meet with King Mohammed VI as well as the country's priests and religious sisters and celebrate Mass for the Catholic community. His meeting with migrants will take place at the Vatican's Caritas charity. Francis is also planning a visit to a social centre outside Rabat.

Morocco has long considered itself a key ally in the fight against extremism and the king routinely criticises extremism and the discourses of radical Islam.

The imam training institute, named for the king, draws Moroccan, sub-Saharan and European preachers. Opened in 2015, it now receives more than 700 students a year and is part of government efforts that began in 2004 to counter terrorism and fundamentalist Islam.

Still, Moroccans have made up an unusually large number of ISIS fighters. The government for decades has sought to supervise the religious teachings of its communities abroad, where some of the Moroccan-born foreign fighters were radicalised.

Updated: February 10, 2019 09:06 AM