The Islamist Movement in Morocco Main Actors and Regime Responses

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DIIS REPORT

DIIS REPORT 2010:05

DIIS REPORT

THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO MAIN ACTORS AND REGIME RESPONSES Julie E. Pruzan-Jørgensen DIIS REPORT 2010:05

DIIS . DANISH INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES 1

DIIS REPORT 2010:05 © Copenhagen 2010 Danish Institute for International Studies, DIIS Strandgade 56, DK-1401 Copenhagen, Denmark Ph: +45 32 69 87 87 Fax: +45 32 69 87 00 E-mail: diis@diis.dk Web: www.diis.dk Cover Design: Anine Kristensen Cover Photo: Polfoto.dk Layout: Allan Lind Jørgensen Printed in Denmark by Vesterkopi AS ISBN 978-87-7605-378-9 Price: DKK 50.00 (VAT included) DIIS publications can be downloaded free of charge from www.diis.dk Hardcopies can be ordered at www.diis.dk

The report was commissioned by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but its findings and conclusions are entirely the responsibility of the author. Julie E. Pruzan-Jørgensen, Project Researcher, Religion, Conflict and International Politics, DIIS

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Contents

Abstract Introduction Religion and Politics in Morocco The Islamist Movement in Morocco Developments within MUR/PJD Developments within Justice and Spirituality Regime Responses: Reforms and Repression Future Scenarios Literature

4 5 6 8 11 15 19 24 26

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Abstract

Morocco’s formally accepted Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), has further underlined its recognition of the authoritarian regime in response to a disappointing electoral showing and tough competition from the new Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM). In contrast, the forbidden, although tolerated, Justice and Spirituality Movement (Al Adl wal Ihsan) retains its principled oppositional role. While there is speculation that this may change when its ailing and aging leader and founder, Sheikh Yassine, passes away, it seems most likely that Justice and Spirituality will retain its role as the main oppositional movement in Morocco in the near future.

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Introduction

The purpose of the present report is to provide easily accessible background information about the main Islamist organizations in Morocco and about recent trends in regime responses to them. Islamist organizations are here defined as organizations and actors distinct from the wider Islamic community or umma by their seeking to create a political order defined in terms of Islam (Mandaville, 2007: 20). Morocco hosts a profusion of Islamist organizations. Among these are a number of radical organizations which do not shy away from using violence to obtain their goals. Such organizations were behind the terrorist attacks in Casablanca of 16 May 2003, were involved in the Madrid bombings in 2004 and have also been behind a number of small-scale events, such as an unsuccessful bombing attempt in Casablanca in 2007. However, the present report focuses predominantly on the two main and non-violent Islamist organizations in Morocco; namely Harakat al-Islâh wa at-Tawhid (Movement for Reform and Unity, MUR) and its related political party, Hizb al Adala wal Tanmia (Party of Justice and Development, PJD); and Al Jama’a al Adl wal Ihsan ( Justice and Spirituality Organisation). The report has been prepared on the basis of existing literature and on insights gathered during a field visit to Morocco in November 2009. Merieme Yafout (doctoral student at the University of Hassan II in Casablanca) has contributed with important research input in Morocco.

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Religion and Politics in Morocco

Some observers of religious life in Morocco contend that religiosity is on the rise. This has notably been argued in a recent report edited by Mustapha el Khalfi (director of the newly established ‘Centre marocain des études et des recherches contemporaines’ as well as of the Arabic daily Attajdid, the official paper of the MUR). The report bases its arguments on quantitative observations such as an apparent rise in the numbers of...
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