Morocco: About to Legalize the ‘Justice and Charity’ Group?

Morocco: About to Legalize the ‘Justice and Charity’ Group?

Mohammad el-Ashab |

The Justice and Charity group makes one step forward and then is fast to relate what it learned by heart, before holding out on the next step. The group is following the rule of those who do not confine to just sending messages, but also expect responses in return, and while not cancelling its' commitment to participate in the change, in accordance with the three NOs, which reject violence, lack of transparency and dependence on the foreign parties. The Justice and Charity allows for an openness initiative coming from the official sides.


For the other side, there are no incentives to modify the present stands. The only significant sign was one that leaked through the state television, following the death of the group’s Guide, Sheikh Abdul Salam Yassine, when the group was described only as a “banned” group. This means that the first thing to do is to bestow legitimacy on the group. However, the supporters of the man who follows the dogma of “Islam or the flood,” believe that it is hard to ask for licensing a political party from an Authority that cannot tolerate the activities of a religious party working in guidance, education, and ethics.


The Authority might use the pretext saying that licensing a party calls for nothing more than discipline. The licensing would be based on the “laws of parties formation,” which also have their three NOs, i.e. refusing the institution of organizations on religious, ethnic, or tribal bases. This means that there is a specific ceiling that was unanimously agreed upon by the pro government as well as the opposition parties, which prevents the Authority from any act of interference that is left from the very beginning to the judiciary, in order to resolve any conflict in this regard.


The group might claim that its vision of reference and present political dogma – which is based, according to the group, on fighting corruption and tyranny – does not allow it to turn into a mere piece of accessory within the political scene that the group has always criticized. However, nothing is set in stone when it comes to politics. For instance, the staunchest Moroccan opposition party is now the ruling party, just because the Socialist Union led by Abdul Rahman al-Yousefi voted for the 1996 constitution. Thus, all the doors opened for the party that was once regarded as standing on the opposition side.


Furthermore, the Islamic partner of the Justice and Charity group is the present Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, the Justice and Development’s secretary general. Ten years ago, the man was under heavy attacks for charges of incitement to violence and terrorism, in the backdrop of the May 2003 suicide attacks in Casablanca.


It might be just a coincidence if an official of the Justice and Charity selected a newspaper affiliated to the Justice and Development to send his messages. However, the ruling party could be okay with receiving the messages that are of concern to it, at least in order to create a breach in the heavy wall separating the banned party from the space of legitimacy. Indeed, one who knocks on one door is bound to be heard eventually. The official Abdul Karim al-Elmi, a member of the group’s guidance bureau, said that a delegation of the group visited the elected official of the opposition’s Socialist Union, Idriss Lashgar, to congratulate him despite the estrangement between the two sides.


This significant step interestingly full of suggestions and it leaps over the ideological barrages. Indeed, the Socialist Union and the opposition factions used the card of Sheikh Abdul Salam Yassine’s house arrest to achieve a political rapprochement with the Islamic movements. Perhaps the time has come for the Justice and Charity group to respond to this positive step with an even better one.


The group is acting as a political party without any need to get a license. The only thing that remains to be done by the group is to strive for participation within the frames of democratic game. However, in the event of coming up with many difficult terms, the group will not be rushing into something that it already possesses. Furthermore, the group does not like the politics of “hastiness”, because it does not wish to be accused of having disavowed its points of reference. Usually, the most radical groups become the most prone to reaching an understanding, whenever encouraging criteria are put in place, thus pushing away the years of caution and lack of confidence.


The group did not revoke all the possibilities for reaching a way out. It did maintain its former call for launching a national dialogue between the partisan powers, the unions, and the constituents of the civil society, as well as “all the wise ones”, in order to assess the present situation and take the right stands. A religious group making such a call must definitely have ambitions to join the family of parties, at least from the oppositional stance that the group had always pursued on a political basis, wrapped in an ethical and educational cloak.


The repercussions of the Arab Spring did not only affect the power centers. Their effect has also extended to the different parties and groups. The once seemingly impossible rapprochement with the Justice and Charity has now become possible. The same goes for all the other parties. A step forward is never a waste, as long as it is not followed by two steps backward. In the meantime, the identity of the party with the first initiative is not important.