Lab experiment associated to radicalization insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique

Together with the Islamic Council of Mozambique (CISLAMO) we have designed and implemented a lab experiment to test different policies to fight Islamic radicalization. This initiative by CISLAMO was a response to the escalade of violent terrorist attacks that started in the region in October 2017.

We tested two different policies to reduce support for Islamic radicalization:

  1. Religious awareness session;
  2. Professional training session.

And assess the effects of the two types of sessions on people’s support towards extremist arguments, destructive behavior towards others, trust in institutions and expectations. These are measured through individual surveys, list experiments and a lab game.

In this page we share detailed information about the two types of interventions and hope to motivate others who want to design policies to counteract radicalization.

Religious Awareness Session

The contents of the religious awareness session were developed by a group of specialists in Muslim Law from CISLAMO. With these sessions in mind they developed a Manual for the sessions with the following outline:

  • Introduction to the objective of the meeting;
  • The groups causing trouble are al khawarij, that means the rebels or the opponents, who are not the true followers of the Prophet;
  • How the Prophet warned his followers against these groups of people who would kill in the name of the Islam, who would recite the Qur’an but without knowledge and who will not belong in the Islam.

Deconstruction of the main arguments presented by these groups:

a. Anyone who commits a sin is no longer a Muslim, will have no forgiveness and will stay in hell until the end of times. Main arguments against: Surat Zumar, v53 on the forgiveness and mercifulness of Allah; narration by Muslim on the word of the Prophet about the 72 degrees of faith;

b. A Muslim cannot work for a non- Muslim government. Main arguments against: An-Nissa, v59 on obeying the authorities; obeying even to a non-muslim government as Yussuf (Joseph of Egypt) did; how the Prophet cousin Ali Bin Abi Tualib worked for a Jew.

c. A Muslim should not befriend a non- Muslim. Main arguments against: Qur’an, Al mumtahina, v.8 and how the Islam forbids a Muslim to offend others religion in Al Anam, v108. And how the Prophet had agreements with the Jews during his migration to the city of Medina.

d. A Muslim should not have an ID card or Passport, because having a photo taken is forbidden. Main arguments against: the Islam exhorts citizens to register their children following the laws of the country and there is no evidence in the Qur’an or Hadith against having a small photo. Overview of the theological agreement towards allowing an ID photo for documents and the issues with the translation of the word Musawwir, that can be as a photographer, sculptor, painter or person who creates something.

e. A Muslim should not go to the hospital. Main arguments against it: Allah did not send a disease without also sending the cure (Ahmad); there is no mention against searching for a cure in hospitals. In the ancient times the Prophet Ayyub cure himself with the miracle water, which he could not do if it was forbidden to find a cure.

f. A Muslim should not use modern transportation. There is nothing to support such claim. We should use the transportation of the time, as before they used horses, and in the future other things will be created that we do not know yet. Qur’an, Annahli, v.8.

g. Incite to violence. The only way to solve today’s problem is through blood spilling. The Islam comes from the word Salam, that means peace and submission. The Prophet life is an example of peace and solve disputes in a peaceful way. As examples the expedition to Hudaibia that culminated with a peace agreement for 10 years. Someone who takes a life is as if is taking the life of all human kind. Qur’an, Al Maida, v.32.

h. Disregard towards women rights. The Islam gave rights to women that they did not have before, as not being inherited by the family against their will. And other rights as mothers, daughters, wives and individuals. Also it is not mandatory to wear the Nikab (burka).

i. Muslim children should attend the madrassas and not secular schools. This is against Islamic Law, because the Islam is governed by knowledge. Qur’an, Al Imran, v. 190-191.

j. Sentence to death anyone who is against their ideology, considering them apostates. This is something forbidden by the Prophet. To accuse others of being apostates.

Find here the complete manual.

During the sessions the participants were free to ask questions, and discussions on specific contents was a normal occurrence.

See here the video with some clips from different religious sessions.

Overall there were two different sessions of the religious awareness trainings. Both were conducted by the Theologists Ismail Sulemane and Faruque Ibraimo at the CISLAMO headquarters in Pemba, at the Colégio Andalúcia.

Session 1:

January 9, 2019

39 participants, mainly from the mosques: Annuar Sunna, Expansão, Annur, Paquitequete, Massidji Muhamad and Mahate.

Session 2:

January 20, 2019

36 participants, mainly from the mosques: Africa Muslim, Aq’ssaw, Annuar Sunna, Cariacó, Annur, Massidji Ibarahima and Dar Salaam.

Professional training session

The professional training was designed by a group of professors that teach entrepreneurship and business classes at Colégio Andalúcia, that belongs to CISLAMO. And in coordination with members of our research team. The main goal of the professional training was to provide simple techniques to search for jobs in the city and how to present oneself for an interview and basic rules of composing a CV. Additionally, it was presented basic golden rules of management, since a large share of the Muslim community in Cabo Delgado is involved in business activities.

The training covered the following contents:

  1. Entrepreneurship:
    • How to make a plan and a budget – basic things to consider;
    • How to get funding: auto-funding and financial institutions in CD;
    • Requisites and how to apply for funding;
    • Once you have a business follow the two golden rules: set a wage for yourself; write down all loans of goods and money that have to be repaid to the business.
  2.  Job-search:
    • Companies searching for jobs;
    • Overview of websites for job search – national platforms and websites of logistic and gas companies;
    • Skills and types of jobs that employers are currently searching for;
    • How to structure a CV and how to avoid common mistakes.

Find here the complete manual of the professional trainings. 

There were three sessions of professional training. All occurred at the same place as the religious sessions and were conducted by Che Saburi and Lucio Raul. Saburi is a member of the secretariat of CISLAMO and has a large experience working with local NGO’s engaged in employability. Raul is part of our research team.

Session 1

January 8, 2019

39 participants, mainly from the mosques: Africa Muslim, Annuar Sunna, Cariacó, Munira, Massidji Muhamad.

Session 2

January 19, 2019

30 participants, mainly from the mosques: Africa Muslim, Aq’ssaw, Annuar Sunna, Cariacó, Annur, Paquitequete.

Session 3

January 20, 2019

18 participants, mainly from the mosques: Africa Muslim, Annuar Sunna, Paquitequete, Aldjadide.


This project would not have been possible without the amazing hard work and perseverance of many people. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution and support:

  • A particular thank you to Imamo Mussa and Lucio Raul for their excellent research assistance and for making this project see the light of day;
  • To all the highly motivated people at CISLAMO with whom we had the pleasure to work with. We are particularly grateful to Sheik Abdul Carimo and Nze Assuate for supporting this research since the beginning and making us part of CISLAMO’s activities;
  • To the IGC Country team in Maputo and a special thank you to Alberto da Cruz;
  • To Alberto Sabão from the Protestant Church in Pemba and Pinto Polini from the Provincial Government of Cabo Delgado;  
  • To all the enumerators who participated in the surveys: Buana Iassine, Elias John, Muarabo José, Mussa Ingles, Juliana Agustinho, Augusto Rendra, Machamba José and Jorge Buraimo.


This research was funded by the International Growth Centre (IGC) and implemented by NOVAFRICA.