From the German press: Sufi-Islam als Mittel gegen Extremismus
by Beat Stauffer, NZZ Online Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 12th February, 2007
North Africa reflects on the role of its Sufi brotherhoods
Sufi orders have played a big role in the history of the Maghrib. Whereas in recent times they have been seen as a limitation to development in Tunisia and Algeria, Moroccan politics gives them an ever greater importance. Politicians are discovering Sufism as a means against religious extremism.
The career of the young Régis who grew up in the suburbs of Paris and Strasbourg and who is the best known rapper in France today is anything but typical. Dealing in drugs as a youth he converted to Islam at the age of 16 and changed his name to ‘Abd al-Malik. Later he felt more drawn to Sufism. He explains that reading the works of Al-Ghazali was pivotal in his decision and today the 31 year old musician, who also has a degree in philosophy, lives in Morocco and belongs to the Boutchichiya Order, the most significant order in the country and led by the spiritual head, Sidi Hamza.
Politicians on both sides of the Mediterranean must have noticed Regis’ career with interest. Could it be that traditional Sufism offers a way for the young, marginalized young men of European suburbs to find a positive direction in their lives and might it be possible that the Sufi Orders could successfully prevent frustrated young Muslims - in the Maghrib as well as in Europe – from joining radical Islamist groups?