Morocco's PJD party has a lesson for other Islamists

By declaring its independence from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamists in Morocco have shown a new way forward, an Arabic-language commentator says. Other topics: Palestinian prisoners and inventors at Idex.

Powered by automated translation

The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which has led a coalition government in Morocco for over a year now, has managed to set itself apart from the other Islamist parties that have risen to power after the Arab Spring uprisings, according to Othman Mirghani, a columnist with the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

First of all, the PJD has made it clear that it has no organisational or operational ties with the transnational Muslim Brotherhood movement, the author said.

The PJD leader, Abdelilah Benkirane, who is currently the head of the Moroccan government, once said in a public statement: "Our party does not belong to the Muslim Brotherhood movement; we come from their school [of thought], but we have no organisational relationship with them. We have our own evolutionary path, our own thinking and our own institutions."

With this statement, Mr Benkirane "drew a clear line" between his party and the Muslim Brothers, Mirghani said.

"He chose to emphasise the points of difference between his party and the Brotherhood … especially at this point in time when too many comparisons are being made between political Islam movements in the region."

For sure, one thing that distinguishes the Justice and Development Party from the rest of the pack is the fact that it operates within "a constitutional monarchy", the author said, a monarchy that the party respects and hails as the country's stabiliser.

In an interview last week with several Arabic news outlets, Mr Benkirane said that "Moroccans have a historical consciousness about the fact that the monarchy represents their stability and guarantees their unity".

The columnist went on: "Mr Benkirane made some really important points in that interview at a time when the majority of political Islam movements - that is, movements that hog Islam and seek to exploit it for political gain - are gradually steering away from the air of democracy and inching closer to despotic ways."

During the interview, Mr Benkirane said his party was elected in 2011 not to "ask men to grow a beard and women to wear hijab" but rather to serve the Moroccan people.

He said: "My innermost conviction is that the people did not vote for us … so we would subject them to our own understanding of Islam; they voted for us so we would do something to solve their problems … Our goal is not to Islamise society, because society is already Muslim."

The PJD leader also humbly acknowledges that running a country is not such an easy task, noting that if his party fails, "well, we are not the only party in town", Mr Benkirane said.

"What a lesson to those who would listen," the author concluded.

Hunger strike must have global response

Again, Israel has clamped down violently on Palestinian prisoners who have resorted to hunger strikes to attract the attention of a world distracted by other events, said the Dubai-based daily Al Bayan in its editorial on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, 800 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails went on a hunger strike in a show of solidarity with other Palestinian prisoners who have been on a prolonged food strike - mainly Samer Al Issawi, who was recaptured in 2012 after being freed as part of a prisoner-release deal.

In parallel, thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank held demonstrations to show support to the hunger strikers.

"The step is designed to underscore the unrelenting Israeli cruelty against unarmed Palestinians who have nothing but their solid will to resist the injustice done to them," said the paper.

Israel's shameless practices towards the Palestinian prisoners in its jails - estimated at over 4500 - prove its indifference towards international laws, as no amount of pressure from the international community could compel it to put an end to the situation.

"The international community stands before a historical responsibility towards these oppressed prisoners. The US, in particular, must exert pressure on the occupation forces to stop the aggravation against prisoners," said Al Bayan.

Future is bright for Emirati inventors

Not only does Idex serve a platform for companies and nations to showcase, and sign deals in, defence technology, it also offers a good opportunity for talented Emiratis to improve their skills and capabilities, observed Saeed Hamdan, an Emirati columnist, in yesterday's edition of Abu Dhabi-based Al Ittihad.

Among the inventions by talented Emiratis showcased this year were a tiny reconnaissance drone with surveillance and tracking cameras; a military vehicle seat tailored to soldiers' needs; and a multipurpose vehicle, by an Emirati woman, that will enter an international competition in Washington, the writer noted.

It was a good gesture from Idex organisers to allow these young Emiratis to exhibit, and it would be even better if manufacturers seek to adopt these projects and give the inventors the chance to realise their dreams.

There have been many reports of significant achievements by Emiratis recently. A few months ago, the World Intellectual Property Organisation revealed that two out of 18 registered inventions belonged to Emirati Aida Al Muhairibi and her husband Wasfi Alshdaifat.

Young inventors need an encouraging environment, and "we are all responsible to support and encourage them", the writer said.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk