Five Per cent?

In the local elections in Morocco this week, the Justice and Development Party – the local franchise of the Muslim Brotherhood – came sixth. Two years ago, it took second place with 14%. This time round, it managed to persuade only 5% of the public to back it:

“I can read the Quran myself,” said Souad, a young woman entering a voting station last Friday in Rabat, the Moroccan capital. “I don’t need some political party telling me that Islam forbids everything.”

People are, by and large, not idiots.

In fact, as Morocco has gradually moved towards greater democracy, the Justice and Development Party has been forced to hugely moderate its politics. It has rebranded as the ‘anti corruption’ party, and has moved away from its hardline roots.

But yet, people don’t want it.

Why is this?

Part of the reason is that so well expressed by Souad. Intelligent people can spot nutters a mile off. The other part of the reason is, no doubt, this:

“The [moderate, Royalist Authenticity and Modernity Party] has done a lot for people in my neighbourhood,” said Souad, 27, a new PAM voter who declined to give her surname. “They’ve given money to the poor and the sick, and have a good programme of social services.”Such tactics undercut the PJD, which has so far won most support among educated urbanites.

They’ve beaten the Muslim Brotherhood at their own game.

How popular is Islamism, really? In Iran, as we know, they’re not allowed to chuck them out.The Jamaatis in Bangladesh have had their marching orders. In Gaza, a combination of cretinous and brutal Israeli policies and Fatah graft gifted Hamas a moment of glory, which they could only prolong by staging a coup and murdering their opponents. In Egypt, who can say? The Muslim Brotherhood only stands in its heartland. How would it do in an open election?

All this is a huge disappointment, no doubt, to those in the West who fetishise Islamism as the true authentic voice of the earthy semi-savage Muslim. People like the Miss Jean Brodie of pro-Islamist advocacy, Alistair Crooke. Here he is shilling for Hamas again.

But the truth may well be that, under ordinary circumstances, the percentage of people who will vote for clerical fascists is no more than 5-10%. In our own Euro elections, the BNP got about 6% nationally, with something like 10% in Yorkshire. Yet we’re not marching down the road to a fascist dictatorship. In fact, in the only poll I have seen on the subject, the percentage of British Muslims who say that the Muslim Council of Britiain – dominated by the Jamaat-e-Islami’s IFE – represents their views is 6%. People are not idiots. Really.

So, why the popularity on some parts of the Left with this rabble?

Part of the reason is that Islamists abroad have worked hard to present themselves as the true voice of the oppressed. Not many at ‘home’ buy that line, but parts of the liberal Left have lapped it up over here. Islamists talk a lot about the wickedness of the US and Israel of course; and this strike a chord with our own domestic maniacs. We also have a lot of Islamists in this country: largely because they’ve fled from their countries of origins.

And of course, few people in the United Kingdom have any real interest in or knowledge of the local issues and politics on which elections in countries like Morocco turn.

But we can be sure of this. One of them isn’t the need to establish the Caliphate.

Doctor Heath adds, below:

What is fascist Islam so popular with a segment of the ‘left’ when it is not, in fact, popular with people who have to endure the reality of it?

Perhaps it’s a repeat of an earlier manifestation of assumed solidarity with the world’s disenfranchised and dispossessed. Cast your minds back, if you’re ancient enough, to scenes of students kitted out with Mao badges, baggy green uniforms run up by Mister Chen of Beijing, Mao’s vademecum Little Red Book’s clenched tightly in the know-it-all students’ hands. Che [the fashion statement, not the psychopath marxian fascist] is another example. Buy the wallposter, do the clenched fist routine: show your solidarity with Latin American peons.

Is not this phenomenon most likely a manifestation of some aspect of adolescent maladjustment? Mussolini and Hitler had more international fans before the war than it is now comfortable to acknowledge. The earthy, savage nature of jackbooted chorus line dancers, the absolute faith that one is right – these appeal to many juveniles and late developers who are searching for absolutes. What some young people most often want is never to be wrong. Here, we’re prone to uncertainty, to having to try things out, to ’sucking it and seeing’ as we fumble along history’s unlit paths. What wants that?

Also, read Christopher Hitchens in Slate.