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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 May 2006, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
Morocco women preachers appointed
Women Muslim preachers graduate in Morocco
The women will not be able to lead Friday prayers
Morocco has appointed 50 women as state preachers for the first time as part of the government's drive to promote a more tolerant version of Islam.

The Islamic guides, called Mourchidats, will be able to give basic religious instruction in mosques.

But they will not be able to lead Friday prayers, which will remain a male preserve.

Since suicide bombers struck Casablanca in 2003, there has been a crackdown on suspected Islamic militants.

The country has also been attempting to modernise its human rights, especially for women, while not alienating conservative Muslims.

As well as teaching in mosques, the women preachers will be able to support to people in prisons, schools and hospitals.

Karima Rjili, a Muslim preachers graduate in Morocco
We want to correct the image of Islam, the religion of tolerance and pity
Graduate Karima Errejili

"It is a big responsibility for me to give more to our country," 26-year-old Karima Errejili told Reuters news agency at her graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

"We want to correct the image of Islam, the religion of tolerance and pity."

The ceremony was attended by Morocco's minister of Islamic Affairs who told the graduates to remain committed to their faith and the politics of the state.

"Your duty... is to prevent intrusion by foreign agents trying to violate our values and traditions," Ahmed Taoufiq is quoted by AP news agency as saying.

Correspondents say that women are carving out a bigger role in Moroccan society, taking leading positions in government ministries, the judiciary and pressure groups.

Two years ago a new family code, called the Mudawana, was introduced by Moroccan King Mohammed VI that gives women more rights in marriage.


SEE ALSO:
Morocco women win rights
11 Oct 03 |  Africa


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