Former Salafi Moroccan researcher Mohamed Abdelwahhab Al-Rafiki said that while he was in prison, he resolved to fight Islamic extremism and extremist discourse. He made these remarks in an interview that aired on Sky News Arabiya (UAE) on July 3, 2021. Al-Rafiki said that his generation deserves compensation in the form of preventing other generations from falling prey to this extremist ideology. He said that the doors should be open to a discourse that levels criticism against this extremism. Al-Rafiki added that Islam's modern religious discourse is rife with arrogance, conspiracy theories, and casting blame on others, while ignoring the fact that Islam’s problems are internal. Al-Rafiki was a Salafi scholar who was imprisoned in 2002 for his inflammatory sermons.
Interviewer: "Dr. Mohamed, you said: 'I was, just as others were, a victim of education, of environment, and of general policies that had nothing to do with me. I require compensation, as do others like me, for the many years that have been robbed from us.' What caught my attention was the concept of the need for compensation. How can this compensation be achieved, at least on a theoretical level?"
Mohamed Abdelwahhab Al-Rafiki: "The least that could be done is to open the doors – in the full sense – for attempts to save future generations from falling prey to this extremist ideology. When I talk about compensation, I am not asking for something material for myself. I am asking that the doors be open for such a discourse that can level criticism against the extremist discourse. The doors should be open for this and all the opportunities should be given to it, in order for it to succeed in confronting this matter. If there is one decision I made when I was in prison, it was to invest all my experience and all my knowledge to fight this extremist ideology. I wanted to use everything I went through, everything I suffered, everything I knew, and everything I have learned along the years, in order to create an ideology that would fight the extremist ideology, deconstruct it, and expose its faults and the contradictions within it."
Interviewer: "It seems that you have upset many people when you said that the Islamic heritage has harmed the image of the Prophet Muhammad more than what some of the Westerners have done to it. Can you elaborate?"
Al-Rafiki: "If we really want to undo the damage that was done to the image of the Prophet Muhammad, we must start from within ourselves. Our problem is the problem of the modern Islamic jurisprudent who refuses to admit that the jurisprudence that he promotes is in crisis, and that the problems [that Islam is facing] are internal more than they are external. Unfortunately, [our] modern religious discourse is rife with arrogance, conspiracy theories, and casting the blame on others, while ignoring the fact that our problems are internal."