Yitzhak Sharia
Jewish lawyer seeks to join Islamist party in Morocco
Lawyer praises party ideals, questions specific policies in open letter: 'There is no longer a viable alternative to your party.'

Leaders of Morocco's ruling political party, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, recently received an unusual request from Jewish lawyer Yitzhak Sharia to join their movement. The lawyer was still waiting for an answer on Monday.



Led by Abed al-Ayala Ben Hiran, the party took over parlaiment in elections in 2011 and follows moderate Islamic ideals supporting democracy and human rights as well as educational reform and greater economic ties with foreign countries.


Sharia approached the party through an open letter in which he explained that despite the difference in religion, he sees true patriotism in the movement.


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The letter continued to say that when compared to Morocco's other parties, the Justice and Development Party is uncorrupt and displays a certain innocence in its ideals of modernization and cooperation.


The lawyer expressed his desire to join the "fighters of the Justice and Develpment Party" in their struggle to end corruption and bring the north African nation to a quality of life seen in the world's most advanced and modern countries.


"I saw that the Morroccan political arena had completely degenerated and for decent citizens who want to take a part in politics, there is no longer a viable alternative to your party," wrote Sharia.


Sharia, who was once a member of the Moroccan Liberal Party, said in his letter that joining the Justice and Development Party would also help to legally protect the country's Jewish community, in which he has extensive connections, and to recover their stolen rights.


Lawyer Yithak Sharia (Archive Photo)
Lawyer Yithak Sharia (Archive Photo)


While Sharia's letter expressed support for many of the party's underlying ideals, he was unsure how his request might be received and questioned several points of party policy which he may oppose.


"I want to know what the party stance is toward Morocco's Jews and toward foreigners in Morocco - both investors and immigrants," wrote the lawyer.


In an interview with local media, Sharia explained that his purpose is not to embarass Morocco's leaders, but to call upon the party to accept people who believe in certain ideas that contradict party ideas.


In his letter, the laywer critisized the party for investing more energy in external issues than critical national problems.


Sharia also questioned what the party stands to gain by supporting Hamas over Fatah and what interest it has in aiding Sunnis over Shi'ites in Syria and Iraq. "Isn't this the beginning of civil war?" asked Sharia.


He also wondered why the Justice and Development Party offers support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and shares views with the Egyptian military.


Khaled A-Rahmouni, a member of the General Secretariat of the party received the letter and said in an Al-Arabiya interview that some members of the party were surprised by the request, but others regarded the letter as routine.


According to A-Rahmouni, "He is free to submit such a request to the party. This man's religious affiliations aren't relevant because the Party's philosophy is based on the principle of citizenship - a political party that has no problems with religions."


"The Party does distinguish between Judaism and Zionism as a racist movement and therefore it is the right of every Moroccan Jew to join the Party on the condition that he doesn't support Zionism."


Deputy Secretary General ofthe Party, Saliman al-Amrani, told Al-Jazeera that "Our doors are open before every Moroccan on the condition that they respect the Party's internal rules and agree to follow the principles, goals, and decisions of the Party."


Al-Amrani also noted that the party maintains a good connection with the Jewish community and reminded interviewers that the prime minister recently took part in a Jewish religious ceremony in Fes, a city in north-eastern Morocco.  


Despite good domestic relations with Morrocan Jews, the Moroccan government opposes normalization of relations with the State of Israel.


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