[QODLink]
Archive
Morocco's Islamists tread warily
Haunted by an image crisis and continuing repression, Morocco's sole Islamist party is contesting only 20 percent of seats in next week's nationwide local elections.
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2003 00:36 GMT
Mustapha Ramid (r), president of the PJD has condemned the Casablanca blasts
Haunted by an image crisis and continuing repression, Morocco's sole Islamist party is contesting only 20 percent of seats in next week's nationwide local elections.

Moroccans will elect around 23,7000 local councillors on 12 September, but the country's main opposition force, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), will be conspicuously absent from the contest in a majority of the seats.

 

"It’s a political decision because of the huge fears that an Islamist reference now sparks here and abroad," said Saad Eddine Othmani, deputy secretary-general of the PJD.

 

The party has been on the backfoot ever since the bombings in the commercial capital, Casablanca, on 16 May.

 

Blamed on Islamist extremists, the explosions killed 33 bystanders and the 12 human bombers. They also triggered an orchestrated vilification campaign against the PJD.

 

The PJD, which severely condemned the May bombings, became the third largest political party in parliamentary elections held a year ago in the monarchy.

 

Trebling its number of seats to 42 in the 325-seat lower house, it came closely behind the 50 won by the USFP and 48 for the centre-right, old-guard Istiqlal.

 

It chose not to join the government of technocrat Prime Minister Driss Jettou. Othmani said longer-established political parties are outmoded and not in tune with the concerns of ordinary Moroccans about unemployment, poverty and acute social inequalities.

 

"We could win Casablanca municipality but we don’t opt for this solution because it would poison the political climate…and Morocco cant afford to waste time," Othmani said.

 

"May 16 has confused things as far as the perception of Islamists in Morocco is concerned," Othmani admits.

"It’s a political decision because of the huge fears that an Islamist reference now sparks here and abroad"

Saad Eddine Othmani            PJD Leader


 

PJD has also had to put up with calls from many politicians, including from the pro-government Socialist Union of Popular Forces, for a ban on all Islamist organisations in the country.

 

"Only the PJD attracts voters nowadays, in particular young voters," Othmani said.

 

But the party is taking its time in harvesting its growing popularity.

 

"Lets say, tomorrow we run Casablanca, Agadir, other big cities, I can already see the headlines: Morocco's taken over by Islamists," Othmani said.

 

"We don’t want Morocco to become like Algeria."

 

Algeria descended into civil war after parliamentary elections in 1992 that the main Islamist party, the Islamic Salvation Front, was poised to win were cancelled by the government.  

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say theyre a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list