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Young Algerian imams to tackle radicalism

Tuesday December 28, 2010 07:45:59 PM, IINA

Algiers: The Algerian government is launching an effort to train a new generation of imams in order to confront and challenge extremist ideology targeted at young people.

The mosque "is a social institution that should operate in harmony with other institutions", Algerian Religious Affairs Minister Bouabdellah Ghlamallah said on Thursday (December 23rd) before parliament.


The minister stressed that "major efforts were made in order to bring the mosque back to society".

Ghlamallah noted that the process would require a major training effort, adding that his ministry dispatched 50 imams to al-Azhar this year to do their master's and doctoral dissertations.


This is in addition to organising regular training courses supervised by university professors for imams across all wilayas. The courses address the different fiqh and social issues facing society.


He confirmed that the efforts were made to "secure" mosques against this dogma, adding that "the proponents and promoters of this ideology were isolated at universities and at some roads around mosques".

The religious affairs ministry started reviewing training programmes last April with Islamic law professors and the new system is scheduled to be implemented next year.


The ministry pointed to six Islamic institutes on the national level where about 1,200 student imams are studying.

Ghlamallah pointed out that the national efforts in this regard "have enabled us to secure the part that is actually recorded of this ideology. In this way, the imams of Algerian mosques have now self-immunity against this ideology."


The minister added that "adhering to the national religious marji'ya and defending it has become one of the criteria for employment as imam".

The minister said that Algerian mosques were now facing a different type of challenge, mainly related to the development of scientific and educational levels of imams, as well as the nature of mosques' message.


He said that the ministry was considering appointment of a new generation of imams to attend to the affairs of mosques and to convey the correct religious message.

In addition, those who apply to be imams will have to meet a number of new requirements, including a baccalaureate certificate, success in competition and then training. The ministry abandoned the old appointment-based system, which required imams to have nine years of education and to memorize the Holy Qur'an.

The new imam education requirements were announced in conjunction with increased oversight of the country's 15,000 mosques. The goal is to prevent a return to extremist ideology that contributed to the violence of the Black Decade.






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