Africa

AP Interview: Moroccan opposition leader targets extremism

  • Supporters of the Islamist Justice and Development Party, known as the PJD, walk in the street of the old Medina during a campaign tour in Casablanca, Morocco, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. Voting booths open on Oct. 7 for the North African kingdom's parliamentary elections, in which 395 seats in the upper house of Parliament are up for grabs, More than 15 million Moroccans are registered to vote in the upcoming legislative elections. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

    Supporters of the Islamist Justice and Development Party, known as the PJD, walk in the street of the old Medina during a campaign tour in Casablanca, Morocco, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. Voting booths open on Oct. 7 for the North African kingdom's parliamentary elections, in which 395 seats in the upper house of Parliament are up for grabs, More than 15 million Moroccans are registered to vote in the upcoming legislative elections. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)  (The Associated Press)

  • Supporters of the "Socialist Union of the People's Forces" or Rose, walk in the street of the old Medina, during a campaign tour in Casablanca, Morocco, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. Voting booths open on Oct. 7 for the North African kingdom's parliamentary elections, in which 395 seats in the upper house of Parliament are up for grabs, More than 15 million Moroccans are registered to vote in the upcoming legislative elections. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)

    Supporters of the "Socialist Union of the People's Forces" or Rose, walk in the street of the old Medina, during a campaign tour in Casablanca, Morocco, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. Voting booths open on Oct. 7 for the North African kingdom's parliamentary elections, in which 395 seats in the upper house of Parliament are up for grabs, More than 15 million Moroccans are registered to vote in the upcoming legislative elections. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)  (The Associated Press)

The head of Morocco's parliamentary opposition says he wants to use cultural programs, education and jobs as weapons to fight growing Islamic extremism, if his party wins a national election Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ilyas El-Omari, secretary general of the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), called for investigations into the funding behind government-accredited associations he believes are involved in radicalizing youth.

El-Omari said Saturday in the city of Oujda: "Are you telling me a young man who couldn't even afford a coffee now has enough money to fly to Syria?"

His party's main election rival, the governing Islamist Party of Justice and Development, has doubled down on fighting extremism, taking credit for dismantling nearly 30 cells this year.

Syria is often a destination for radicalized youth.