Islamists say time for change in Morocco

A group gathered hundreds of followers for a Feb. 20 protest meant to restore "the dignity of the Moroccan people and (press) for democratic and constitutional reform and the dissolution of parliament".

Islamists say time for change in Morocco

The Islamist group Justice and Charity, believed to be Morocco's biggest opposition force, but banned by state, has said autocracy will be swept away unless the country pursues deep democratic reform.

Authoritarian Arab leaders are watching carefully for signs of unrest spreading through the region after revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.

The group of Sufi inspiration is believed to have 200,000 members, most of whom are university students, and is active mainly in the poor districts of some cities. Banned from politics, its avowed aim is to achieve a peaceful transition to a pluralist political system inspired by Islam.

In a statement posted on its website late on Sunday, Justice and Charity said the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia left "no place today for distortions ... and empty, false promises.

"The gap between the ruler and the ruled has widened and confidence is lost.

"The solution is either a deep and urgent democratic reform that ends autocracy and responds to the needs and demands of the people, or the people take the initiative and (it) erupt peacefully ... to sweep autocracy away," it said.

"Protest plan"

A group on social networking website Facebook has gathered hundreds of followers for a Feb. 20 protest meant to restore "the dignity of the Moroccan people and (press) for democratic and constitutional reform and the dissolution of parliament".

Moroccan officials could not be reached for comment.

State-controled television in Morocco has reported the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt with restraint, but many cafes have been tuning in to the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, which has covered the uprisings extensively in real time.

Moroccan media, including the official MAP news agency, have reported few attempts at self-immolation, apparently inspired by the fruit seller public suicide triggered the Tunisian protests. Noone was reported to have died in these attempts.

Justice and Charity rose to prominence after its spiritual leader, Abdesslam Yassine, demanded thorough reform in letters sent first to the late King Hassan in 1974 and then to his son and heir King Mohammed after his enthronement in 1999.

Yassine disputes the Moroccan monarchs' eligibility for the religious title of Commander of the Faithful. He was put under house arrest for several years under King Hassan, but King Mohammed lifted the restriction shortly after coming to power.

Morocco is officially a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. But the constitution empowers the king to dissolve the legislature, impose a state of emergency and have a key say on the appointment of sensitive government portfolios including the prime minister.

Justice and Charity said the constitution should be replaced by "a democratic one to mark a break with all aspects of autocracy ... and monopolisation of authority and national wealth and preserves the human dignity of the Moroccan citizen".

It also demanded an end of what it called the "Benalisation" of politics and the economy in Morocco, a reference to the authoritarian rule and nepotism of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ousted last month after 23 years in power. ($1=8.132 Moroccan dirhams)

Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Şubat 2011, 14:13
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