Mohammed Masbah

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The emblems, numbers of the political parties and photos of candidates participating in the election appear on the walls ahead of the 8 September election, in Khemisset, Morocco on 5 September 2021. Photo by Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Morocco’s experience with Islamists sets it apart from its neighbours. While Egypt and Tunisia have resorted to military and constitutional means to remove Islamists from power, Morocco’s moderate Islamist party, the PJD, were removed by the country’s citizens through the ballot box, without any direct intervention by the monarchy. This is the first time since the Arab Spring protests of 2011 that an Islamist party has been removed from power through the electoral process.

A PJD loss was expected, but even the most seasoned observers – and probably the authorities themselves – did not expect such a significant loss for the party.…  Seguir leyendo »

A general view of empty stores during curfew as a precaution against the new type of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Rabat, Morocco on 1 April 2020. Photo by Jalal Morchidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

In Morocco, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased public trust in government, but people still have doubts about the effectiveness of the healthcare system. According to a recent study conducted by the Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA), the majority of Moroccans surveyed are generally satisfied with the measures taken by the government to battle the coronavirus. However, the same survey also shows that Moroccans do not have confidence in the healthcare sector’s ability to respond to this pandemic.

The positive perceptions of the government’s response can be explained by the swift and strict measures enacted. King Mohammed VI held a high-level meeting with the prime minister, the minister of health, and top security officials on 17 March and a few days later, on 20 March, the Moroccan government declared a state of health emergency and began to implement aggressive measures to contain the virus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni is greeted by her boyfriend Rifaat Al Amine upon leaving prison after being granted a royal pardon (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images).

The decision by King Mohammed VI to grant a royal pardon for Hajar Raissouni - a Moroccan journalist detained along with her fiancé, a gynecologic doctor and his staff for allegedly 'illegal abortion' – has been pitched as an example of the 'clemency and mercy' of the king. But in reality, it appears the pardon has wider intentions - and is intended to try to kill three birds with one stone.

The first target is to try to end the current regime’s isolation, and prevent further media attacks against its restrictive practices. The accusations were never admitted by Raissouni and the others involved, resulting in wide criticism from both local and international media at a time when the regime was already under fire from human rights organizations for cracking down independent journalists and activists.…  Seguir leyendo »

King Mohammed VI at the royal palace in Tangiers. Photo: Getty Images.

For the past five months, Morocco has been at a political impasse. After parliamentary elections in October 2016, the biggest party, the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), and its leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, tried to form a governing coalition, but has been stymied by opposition from parties that receive support from the royal palace.

On 15 March, in an attempt to break the impasse and assert the palace’s authority, King Mohammed VI dismissed Benkirane from his position as presumptive prime minister and replaced him with Dr Saad Dine Othmani, another PJD leader. The royal decision is a calculated step, giving the PJD a second chance to form a government, but at the expense of losing a charismatic leader.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ennahda's Rached Ghannouchi greets supporters. Photo: Getty Images.

The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. This would be a major mistake – not only would such a designation miss the anti-violence stance of many Muslim Brotherhood leaders, it would also undermine its potential for pragmatic evolution.

The experience of other Islamist parties in the region – such as the Tunisian Ennahda party or the Moroccan Party of Justice and Development (PJD) – highlights the importance of political inclusion as the path towards secularization, not just moderation, among Islamist groups.

Since their ascendance to power at the end of 2011, Ennahda and the PJD have made a noticeable shift in their ideological platforms.…  Seguir leyendo »