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Religious Regulation as Foreign Policy: Morocco's Islamic Diplomacy in West Africa

  • Ann Marie Wainscott (a1)

Studies of religious regulation tend to examine how states manage the domestic religious market. This article extends this research program by analyzing a state that regulates the religious markets of foreign countries. The Moroccan case demonstrates the circumstances under which a religious bureaucracy designed to manage domestic religion can be turned outward, and employed to achieve foreign policy goals. Unlike other cases of foreign religious regulation, however, Morocco's efforts have been welcomed at the same time that the policy advanced Morocco's interests. What explains the success of Morocco's religious foreign policy? Building on interviews with religious elites from a recipient country, this article argues that Moroccan religious foreign policy has been successful because it was perceived as having historical and cultural legitimacy, it built on pre-existing institutions, and it was paired with renewed economic collaboration, three factors that have broader theoretical relevance to the study of religious foreign policies.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ann Marie Wainscott, Department of Political Science, Miami University, 218 Harrison Hall, Oxford, OH 45056. E-mail:
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This article appears in modified form as a chapter in the book: Bureaucratizing Islam: Morocco and the War on Terror. The two publications proceeded simultaneously.

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