RECOMMENDED READING: “The Fate Of Morocco’s Islamists”


Avi M. Spiegel, an assistant professor of political science and international relations at the University of San Diego, has written an article titled “The Fate of Morocco’s Islamists” which looks at the future of the Morocco’s governing Party of Justice and Development (PJD), a part of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The article begins:

Justice & Development Party

July 9, 2013 After Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster from power, Islamists in Egypt face an uncertain fate. But they aren’t the only ones. Developments in Egypt now pose a particularly thorny problem for groups across the Middle East and North Africa that trace their lineage back to the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement.

Is the Islamist experiment in political participation now doomed? If my discussions with Islamists in Morocco these past two weeks are any indication, the answer, at least in Morocco, seems clear. It is not, according to them, that democratic governance is flawed, but rather it is how Morsi himself practiced politics that is problematic. Instead of tying their fate to Morsi — in the hopes of boosting the former Egyptian president’s image and thus their own — I instead heard Moroccan Islamists go to great lengths to try to differentiate themselves from the Brotherhood’s experience.

‘What do you think,’ I asked in Arabic, ‘about the situation with your brothers in Egypt?’ But before I could finish my question, a leader of Morocco’s governing Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) interrupted me. ‘In Egypt,’ he said firmly, ‘they are not our brothers.’

‘Yes, we took inspiration from some of their ideas,’ he admitted, and ‘we don’t deny that we are part of the Islamist movement.’ But he took umbrage at any suggestion that the two groups were comparable, choosing instead to paint the PJD as the Brotherhood’s more learned, established, and experienced relative. ‘We’ve grown up into a mature political party; we have learned a great deal,’ he said.

Some faulted Islamists in Egypt for not taking time to learn more about their political system before entering it. I heard often, for example, PJD members brag about the 14 years they spent in politics, in the opposition — before they ultimately began governing in 2011. Unlike Morsi, they said, ‘We didn’t go directly to being president.’ One member noted how Morsi would have done well for himself if he had studied ‘Samuel Huntington’s writing on democratic transitions.’

Others took issue with the way Morsi sought to consolidate power, noting that in Morocco the PJD does not ‘govern alone.’ After sweeping Morocco’s 2011 legislative elections, the PJD opted to form a broad coalition with three parties (of different ideological backgrounds). ‘You have to invite others to participate with you,’ one noted, subtly chastising Morsi. He also pointed out the obvious: in Morocco, he said, ‘we also share power with a king.’

Read the rest here.

In February 2013 Moroccan Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the Justice and Development Party denied that his party “belongs” to the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite Mr. Benkirane’s denial, in December 2011 Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi was among the first of the Islamic scholars to congratulate the Justice and Development Party (JDP) on its parliamentary victory in June of that year. In March 2011, a JDP leader was one of the participants at conference that brought together an unusual and significant number of participants from the Global Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Brotherhood, and other Islamist movements that also included Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood.

Relevant positions of the FJP include:

  • In  April  2012 the Moroccan Prime minister refused to speak with the female Belgian Minister of Justice during an official meeting.
  • In August 2012, the Moroccan Minister of Family reportedly expressed his opposition to modifying the Moroccan Criminal Code that allows a man guilty of rape on a minor to escape his sentence by marrying his victim.
  •  In June 2011, Abdelilah Benkiran stridently objected to freedom of religion and tolerance of homosexuality.

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