Morocco's PM-elect: no Islamic dress code for women

Sat Dec 10, 2011 8:13am GMT

By Zakia Abdennebi

RABAT (Reuters) - The man set to become Morocco's first Islamist prime minister said on Friday his government would not try to make women dress more modestly.

Abdelilah Benkirane is to lead a coalition government after his Justice and Development Party (PJD) became the latest Islamist movement in the Middle East to win an election in the wake of the "Arab Spring" revolutions.

The party is anxious to reassure powerful secularists in the Moroccan establishment, foreign investors, and the tourists who provide much of the country's revenue, that it will not try to impose a strict Muslim moral code.

"We are proud that our point of reference is Islamist," Benkirane, the PJD's secretary general and prime minister designate, told a small group of reporters invited to a briefing.

"I will never be interested in the private life of people, Allah created mankind free. I will never ask if a woman is wearing a short skirt or a long skirt."

"But there are things forbidden by the law. I think even in some European countries, people cannot be naked in public places," he said.

On relations with countries in Europe, Morocco's biggest trading partner, Benkirane said: "They are our friends and we need them and they will need us ... Morocco not only has historical ties to Europe but philosophical ones."

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