Moroccan Islamists quit Arab Spring opposition

Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:48am GMT

By Souhail Karam

RABAT (Reuters) - An Islamist group seen as the main opposing force to Morocco's monarchy has suspended its involvement in a movement inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, citing the need for a new deal with secularist activists to bolster its ideology.

Al-Adl wal Ihsane's move comes at a tense time for the February 20 Movement whose regular protests, aimed at stripping the Arab world's longest-serving dynasty of its sweeping powers, have thinned considerably in recent weeks.

On Monday, it suspended its youth wing's involvement in the February 20 Movement, said Fathallah Arsalane, a member of al-Adl wal Ihsane's (Justice and Spirituality) Guidance Council.

"We have suffered marginalisation at the hands of some parties in February 20 and this involved the ceiling of political demands, a ban on making public statements and the use of slogans that reflect our group's ideology," Arsalane told Reuters.

"We are stopping our action within the February 20 Movement but we can continue outside it ... We want a real partnership with everyone, including secularists and left-wing activists."

Al-Adl is seen as Morocco's biggest and best-organised Islamist group. It is active mostly in universities and in helping the poor, but it is banned from politics due mostly to what is seen as its hostile rhetoric towards the monarchy.

"Why do we have to tie ourselves to the extent of saying 'No, we need to mention that we want a constitutional monarchy?'. For some it may sound too bold a demand, others may think it's too shy," he said.

"Why did they have to prohibit slogans like "Allah is the Greatest" and others against prejudice. In doing so, you marginalise a large fraction of Moroccans".   Continued...

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