By the standards of the region, Morocco has not been all that of a place. At least until the Arab Spring. The Muslim Brotherhood’s election victory in Morocco has gotten less press in part because the country is small, its Justice and Development Party has tried to claim that it isn’t Brotherhood (a lie that came toppling down when the Muslim Brotherhood described it as one of its own) and because the king still has the final say, in theory.
The Supreme Ulema Council of Morocco, its highest religious authority, published a fatwa calling for the death penalty for anyone who leaves Islam. And Morocco’s Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is neglecting the economy and getting into clashes with human rights activists over blasphemy law.
Morocco’s Islamist prime minister says it’s unacceptable to criticize the Prophet Muhammad, entering a war of words between a secular activist and hardline Salafists that has strained the balance between freedom of expression and religious sensitivities.
Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane took a not-so-veiled swipe at secular activist Ahmed Assid at a party rally late Saturday in Rabat.
Assid has drawn fire for saying a Moroccan school textbook has implied that Islam could be imposed by force.
At least one Salafist leader retorted that Assid was trying to paint Muhammad as a terrorist — a claim Assid denies — and called Assid an “unbeliever,” which could be seen as an incitement to violence.
The AP predictably fails to delve into the subject but Assid does make some interesting comments about the Brotherhood.
Ahmed Assid, Amazigh activist, criticized the attempts of Islamists in Morocco to infiltrate women’s rights organizations to make them obedient to Islamist associations, replacing the demands of women with their own demands. Islamists use the same tactic with the Amazigh movement.
“But we do not only defend the Amazigh language, but also the universal values of democracy and modernity,” he says. He added that the Moroccan Islamists also want to replace their substance by redefining their ideology as “Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood.”
Ahmed Assid called on democratic forces in Morocco as well as in other Arab countries to unite because “the Islamists are an organized minority, while the democratic forces are the majority in society, but disunited.”