Morocco’s interior ministry has ordered its security services nationwide to spy on the activities of the ruling moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) and its members as part of a surveillance program on Islamist groups, Moroccan media reported on Friday.
The ruling party and its religious preaching arm, the Movement for Unity and Reform, were high on the list of the interior ministry’s top targeted political and religious groups in the Kingdom, according to a report by the daily al-Massae newspaper, whose editor-in-chief Rachid Nini completed last month a one-year jail term for “undermining the judiciary,” among other charges.
Other major targets include the Islamist Renaissance and Virtue Party, the outlawed Justice and Charity Movement and the Salafist jihadist Movement.
The target list was sent to various security and administrative organs nationwide and the ministry instructed them to monitor and report on the activities and statements of members of the ruling PJD, including some ministers, according to the newspaper.
Abdellah Bouano, PJD member of parliament, told al-Massae that the inclusion of his party in the interior ministry surveillance program was “unacceptable,” saying that the PJD is a political not a religious party.
The report could deal another blow to the government coalition led by PJD chief Abdelelah Benkirane.
Interior Minister Mhaned el-Ansar is part of the coalition led by the PJD, but he belongs to a different party, the Popular Movement, and he occupied ministerial positions in previous governments.
The cabinet lineup was unveiled in January after intensive negotiations and compromise, but the lack of shared ideological chemistry between the Islamist PJD and other parties such as the Party of Progress and Socialism, has caused several rifts in the coalition.
Last month, a draft law proposed by PJD Minister of Information Mustapha el-Khalfi to reform the media sector was criticized by ministers from other parties and the dispute over the legislation prompted the interference of the king who ordered that it be temporarily shelved.
In March, a statement by the Islamist Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid that tourists visit the southern city of Marrakech “to sin” angered his colleague and tourism minister Lahsan Daoudi, who belongs to a different a party.
Prime Minister Benkirane has managed to keep his government coalition together despite internal tensions, but It remains to be seen if this will survive a crisis that could ensue from espionage and surveillance reports.
(Written by Mustapha Ajbaili)