Free Elections in a Muslim Country
While we all watch with held breath, the radical events that unfold in Iran, how typical it was to have missed this news:
Significantly, there was a high turnout of voters in the Moroccan Western Sahara region. Though this area is still the subject of international dispute, the local inhabitants' active participation demonstrated their self-identification as Moroccan citizens. The Saharans clearly prefer Morocco's reform-oriented government to Algeria's repressive regime.
Morocco's efforts to unify its diverse population of Arabs, Berbers, Jews and other small minorities are impressive. To attract more members, the Islamist Justice and Development party abended its religious rhetoric. Although it gained relatively more votes in the big cities, it came in sixth, with only 5% of the votes. In contrast, the royalist, modernist, and reform-oriented Authenticity and Modernity Party came in first with roughly 18% of the votes and won almost 22% of seats.
In this Muslim country--where Jews and Christians can practice their religions freely, conversion from Islam is permitted by law, a big church stands in the center of the capital Rabat, and alcohol is freely sold in the supermarkets--the regionalization reforms underway promise that Morocco will become even more tolerant. Indeed, Morocco should be used as model by its neighbors in the region and beyond.