"Hundreds of female religious guides have been at the forefront of Algeria’s battle against Islamic radicalisation since the civil war that devastated the North African country in the 1990s.
Their aim is to steer women away from false preachers promoting radical forms of Islam.
The surge of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, and even in Libya
next door, as well as the growing influence of Al-Qaeda-linked militants
and Salafists, has them working around the clock.
Known as ‘mourshidates,’ their goal is to spread the good word of Islam and a
message of tolerance, helping those who have strayed from it.
Like the other 300 mourshidates appointed by the religious affairs ministry, Zohra holds a degree in Islam and has learned the Koran by
She said she was ‘motivated to know Islam better in order
to teach the religion’ following the traditionally moderate Muslim
country’s civil war in the 1990s, which killed at least 200,000 people.
war erupted after authorities cancelled the 1991 elections, Algeria’s
first democratic vote, which the Islamic Action Front was poised to win.
who was a student at the time, recalled bitterly as she met a group of
women in a mosque, that ‘Algerians killed Algerians in the name of
For the past 17 years she has been ‘listening to women,
advising them and referring them to specialists’ when their problems are
not directly linked to religion.
Samia, another mourshida who decline to give her surname, says she has been working for the past 15 years in a region of Algeria where
youths, both boys and girls, have been increasingly radicalized.
mothers suffer to see them become radicalized and confide in me so that
together, and with the help of others, we can de-radicalize them,' she
Samia warns that Algerians must be alert.
very few Algerians have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group,
vigilance is necessary because radicalisation takes many forms,' she
'Pseudo-imams, who know nothing about the teachings of the
Koran,' are trying to indoctrinate people through television programs
and the Internet, she said.
'Adolescents in particular must be monitored because they are impressionable and can easily be swayed.'
Like Samia, many mourshidates say they are proud to have contributed to help youths from falling into the grips of radical Islamists.
'It is the biggest reward of our work,' one of them said.”
Alhamdulillah, we have these brave and strong women guiding Algerian religious beliefs. I have said it time and time again; African women are amazing.