A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: The Victory of the Islamist Justice and Development Party in Morocco

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Jonathan D. Halevi - The Justice and Development Party, which is identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, won the elections in Morocco held on November 26. The media's accounts of a "moderate" Justice and Development Party do not accurately reflect this party's ideology. The party's outlook, its leaders' statements, and the platform of its parent party point clearly to the stance of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is hostile to the West and its culture and views Israel as a cardinal enemy. Abdelilah Benkirane, head of the Justice and Development Party, visited Gaza in March 2009, where he said: "The inhabitants of Arab Morocco do not think there is only a duty to identify with the Palestinians, but want to wage a jihad struggle alongside them....The Moroccans see the Islamic resistance movement Hamas as the mother of resistance and steadfastness. The Moroccans very much love the Hamas movement." Benkirane signed a manifesto which said: "We emphasize the right of the Muslim Palestinian people to struggle aggressively for its land...and we view this resistance as legally, Islamically mandated warfare....We regard every signature on agreements or treaties that renounce the right of struggle, or the right of return of the refugees, or the right of the Islamic identity of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] in particular and of Palestine in general, as an offense to the ummah, a deviation from its fundamental principles, and a sacrifice of its interests." The party's victory in Morocco constitutes a further triumph for the Islamist movement, so soon after the victory of the Ennahda movement in the Tunisian elections. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to make substantial gains in the three-stage elections that began on November 28. In Libya, the new government has undertaken to make Sharia law a primary source of legislation. In Yemen, the Islamist movements have played a central role in the revolt against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Earlier, in 2006, the Hamas movement - the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood - triumphed in the Palestinian Authority elections. The domino effect that began with the revolt in Tunisia is coloring the Middle East green, as the Islamic revolution gradually alters the regional balance of power and, eventually, could well forge a new front to challenge the existing world order. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2011-11-28 00:00:00

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