The victory of the Justice and Development Party in Morocco’s first legislative elections after the new constitution was quite expected, yet euphoric celebrations in the party’s headquarters and all over the country still denote the element of surprise to Islamists who, observers say, would never have dreamed of reaching such glory.
It remains to be seen how the new government will chart the coming stage of Morocco’s political scene and this what Al Arabiya was out to know in the first interview by Justice and Development head Abdel Ilah Bin Kiran after the victory.
The Justice and Development Party, I told bin Kiran, has won the minor struggle, which is getting a majority in the elections and now it is time for the major struggle, which is proving that Islamists are capable of ruling.
“The Justice and Development Party will work towards what is best for Morocco and will do so in a way that makes the party a role model in the Arab and Muslim world,” he replied confidently.
The biggest concern, I said, is how Islamists will be able to run the country without focusing on addressing people’s emotions as they are said to have done.
This concern, he said, is a very valid one, for the party has not been in charge before and it is understandable that people might be apprehensive.
“However, the new government will be given more powers and we are going to rule as a political and not a religious party. Religion belongs to mosques and we are not going to interfere in people’s personal lives.”
Bin Kiran denied that the party is going to impose the veil on Moroccan women.
“If we want to fail we will impose the veil. We will not interfere in people’s choices and not one woman will be forced to wear the veil if we want to succeed.”
When asked whether fair parliamentary elections spared Morocco the risk of a revolution that might oust the monarchy, bin Kiran said that Morocco’s structure is different in the sense that both the monarchy and the elected government can work together to maintain stability.
“The king is the head of state. How the head of the government will work with the king is the most important issue. This might seem problematic, but I am optimistic.”
Bin Kiran refuted assumptions that the rise of Islamists post the uprisings in the region is indicative of a return of the religious state.
“The religious state has been gone a long time ago and will never come back.”
Regarding the formation of the government, bin Kiran said that the Justice and Development Party will form a coalition with several parties.
“The only exception will be the Authenticity and Modernity Party because I have reservations on their previous political stances.”
The Authenticity and Modernity was founded in 2008 by former Interior Minister Fouad al-Himma and its creation was said to have been coordinated with King Mohamed VI as part of an attempt to consolidate his power in the kingdom.
Before announcing the results of the elections, Bin Kiran stated that he would do his best to form a government of youths.
“I can’t see myself heading a government made up of ministers who are older than I am,” he told the Moroccan daily Akhbar al-Youm.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)