The female Koran experts fighting radical Islam in Morocco

Hidra said it required quiet patience to earn their trust. “As they saw more and more of us, we became easier to accept,” she explained, and people in the community began asking her for advice or suggesting she go talk to this young man or that family where a problem with radical ideas might be developing. “It probably helped that we didn’t argue with [the young people we talked to],” she said. “We just answered their questions. We helped their families. We sat with the mothers and taught them how to help their children.”

Many of the young Moroccan men and women who turn to groups like ISIS feel isolated, come from violent homes, or have been involved with petty crime. Radical Islamists offer them community and tell them that a full-throated embrace of their religion—an embrace that includes violence against nonbelievers—is the solution. Morchidats like Hidra suggest the solution is less doctrinaire. They walk young people through Quranic passages that emphasize tolerance, and provide gentler interpretations of passages that could be taken to promote violence. The idea is that young people eventually learn that their faith is not at odds with their families or society more broadly, and that this provides a lasting bulwark against terrorist recruiters.