The Washington Post interviews Driss El Yazami on Morocco’s development:
Driss El Yazami, the chair of the council, is in the United States this week. In a phone conversation, he explained, “Moroccan society has showed a real capacity to maintain political pluralism.” He points to the vibrant debate last year — this is in a devout Muslim country — to loosen abortion laws. As Bloomberg reported, “Morocco’s Islamist-led government has asked a panel of clerics, doctors and legislators to look into relaxing a five-decade-old abortion law that activists say is pushing more and more women into back-street terminations.” While two government ministries are still wrangling over a draft law, the existence of a peaceful, raucous public policy debate represents precisely the sort of tentative steps toward modernization and the rule of law that we are supposed to be encouraging. Likewise, the council has been at the forefront of promoting women’s rights, seeking to bolster the family law code passed 10 years ago. Its report last year made 97 recommendations, including a proposal to give women equal rights under the inheritance laws. This, too, set off a robust public debate.
It is no coincidence that as Morocco’s reform movement (despite much criticized actions to stifle the media) comes as U.S.-Morocco ties have expanded to cooperation in economic and security realms. This is the sort of democratic progress we should be encouraging to take place in other Muslim countries since it offers the only real hope for stability and an alternate to the Hobson’s choice between tyranny and Islamist chaos. If we want more allies and support in battling extremism, we should be supporting democratic reform efforts…[FULL STORY]