A blogpost on Morocco’s Justice and Development party official channels sought to justify the September 8 earthquake as “a divine expression of anger and punishment,” plunging the ostracized party into fresh controversy.
The PJD, whose Islamist outlook and Internal divisions drove a sour loss in the 2021 elections, took down the blogpost, but failed to officially apologize for statements that were perceived as highly insensitive to the thousands affected by the natural disaster.
In a statement subsequent to their General Secretariat meeting, the PJD said that “we must return to God, because everything that befalls a person is a warning, and the right thing is for us to look back as a nation and find out whether what happened might also be due to our sins, transgressions, and violations.”
The “sins”that led to the quake, says the PJD’s secretariat, do not only concern “individual acts, but a more general and political sense, not only about individual violations, but about sins, transgressions, and violations in the political sense, and those found in political life in general, elections, responsibilities, public management, and others.”
Leading party figure and former minister Abdelkader Amara, announced his resignation from the party, less than 24 hours after the statement was issued.
“With a heart filled with pain over what the experience of the Justice and Development Party has led to, I announce my resignation from the party and all its bodies, effective immediately,” he said.
Abdelaziz Aftati, a prominent leader in the PJD considered the statement “a serious mistake,” for which Secretary General Abdelilah Bankirane should be held accountable.
Aftati told MoroccoLatestNews that “considering the earthquake as God’s wrath is a common mistake in Islamic culture, and is of doctrinal and intellectual nature,” stressing that letting such misconceptions seep into political organizations should be unacceptable.
A number of members of the General Secretariat and party members refrained from answering media requests for comments.
Benkirane chaired the secretariat meeting to discuss the earthquake where he praised King Mohammed VI’s firm stance on foreign aid, preserving the country’s national sovereignty and dignity, an approach widely appreciated by Moroccans.
Benkirane also expressed his gratitude to the civil and military authorities and the solidarity shown by the Moroccan people from all walks of life, underlining the PJD’s responsibility as a national party and calling for reflection on the regional inequalities highlighted by the earthquake.