Integrating Conservative Religious Actors into CVE

In light of the growing threat of violent religious extremism in the Middle East and North Africa region, ICRD has been exploring innovative strategies to counter the appeal of Jihadi-Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Specifically, ICRD aims to critically examine the constructive role that might played by conservative religious actors – who often possess unique influence with and access to those at-risk of radicalization. Drawing on field research with Salafi and other conservative religious actors (imams, religious students, and educators), ICRD has been developing recommendations for national and international policymakers and practitioners on how to more effectively integrate a range of religious actors and institutions into future initiatives.

In Morocco, ICRD is currently in the process of gathering data from a range of religious actors (including Salafis, Islamists, and others) from across the country, in partnership with a team of local researchers. The findings of this study are outlined in our most recent report, Engaging Salafi Religious Actors in Morocco: The Role of Inclusion in CVE.

Religious and Civil Society Collaboration in CVE

To support the international effort to deter youth from joining groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, ICRD is collaborating with US and transnational organizations to create a replicable and transferable model for training religious and civil society actors to lead community-based CVE programs. In the summer of 2017, this model was piloted in North Africa, with a select group of 16 civil society actors – religious scholars, youth activists, and women religious actors – from communities with a demonstrated risk of recruitment to extremist groups. Participants were trained on international best practices in analyzing the drivers of extremism in their community, developing targeted programming, and utilizing a range of relevant community-engagement skills. Based on this training, participants have developed their own local projects, which will serve as an example for replicating this model in many other contexts.