He passed away on Thursday at 7:00 am after a long life spent trying to build an Islamist organization which was more an hermetic cult than an ordinary preaching group.
By Morocco World News with Maghreb Intelligence
He wanted to be “immortal”, but death eventually caught him up. He wanted to be above politics, but his shenanigans blotted his copybook. He passed away on Thursday at 7:00 am after a long life spent trying to build an Islamist organization which was more an hermetic cult than an ordinary preaching group.
In 1965, a young public education instructor named Abdeslam Yassine, an accomplished francophone and open-minded man began his transformation.
He was tempted by Sufism and joined Sheikh Abbas at the Zaouiya Boutchichiya. When the latter died, the brotherhood chose Sheikh Hamza, son of Sheikh Abbas, to continue to lead the Boutchichis.
Abdeslam Yassine felt insulted and left with two of his loyal friends, Souleimani Alaoui and Ahmed Mellakh. He then held a long lasting grudge against the Zaouiya and against hereditary power structures.
His anger turned into political action. In 1973, he sent a letter to the late King Hassan II, entitled “Islam or the Flood”. If the letter looked like an exchange between a pious Alem and a “deviant King”, it is actually more of an invitation to share power in the kingdom. Abdeslam Yassine signed his letter and added a hagiographic attribute to his name, making him the descendent of the Idrisid, first dynasty to have ruled Morocco from the 8th to 10th century.
Abdeslam Yassine’s audacity surprised the political class and even Moroccan King Hassan II himself. The letter led its author to stay in a psychiatric hospital for 42 months.
For the King, Sheikh Yassin was clearly insane. He was not like leftists, eager to end the monarchy, but even more threatening, he wanted to create another one.
After his release in 1979, he was a little more radical. His movement was implanted in Casablanca thanks to the popular Imam Mohamed Bachir. Workers, students and pupils joined them.
Al Adl Wal Ihssan grew and began delivering a highly political speech. The movement rode the wave of the Iranian revolution which was then very popular within the Moroccan youth.
In 1983, Morocco was shaken by the economic crisis. Power was weakened by the structural adjustment plan and sporadic hunger riots broke out everywhere. Abdeslam Yassine then resurfaced and published a newspaper that was soon banned.
The Sheikh got two years in prison. In 1987, Hassan II placed him under house arrest at his home in Salé, near Rabat. He only came out thanks to the new monarch Mohammed VI. The old man, sick and detached from reality, was finally free and at the head of a movement that had tens of thousands of followers. Al Adl Wal Ihssane was then at the height of its glory.
The movement engaged in a real display of force in the streets of Casablanca during a protest against the plan of integration of women into modernity, initiated by the Youssoufi government. In universities, the movement had a quasi-military stranglehold on campus.
Nadia Yassine, the Morshid’s favorite daughter was imposed on young ambitious persons who have emerged in Al Adl Wal Ihssane in the 1990s. Sheikh Yassin and his followers believed that the “big night” had come. In 2001 and 2002, they multiplied their provocations, but wiped a crushing defeat in the famous war of occupation of beaches that opposed them to the government.
At the beginning of this decade, Morocco changed fast and completely. Sheikh Yassin was toppled. Al Adl Wal Ihssane‘s ‘unofficial’ interlocutors in the circles of power gradually disappeared. Driss Basri and Abdelkbir Alaoui Mdaghri, for example, were successively expelled from the government.
In addition, another political actor that played on their own ground seemed to overflow with enthusiasm and ambition. The PJD channeled the idea of a political Islam before completely monopolizing it. Al Adl Wal Ihssane lost the advantage at the political level.
Discord agitated the organization. Nadia Yassine, her husband and Abdeslam Yassine’s secretary were accused of influencing the Morshid. The political wing represented by Mohamed Moutawakil, Fathallah Arsalan and Hassan Benajeh lobbied for the movement to become a political party, or at least for it to set up a political appendix.
The preaching wing stopped their intentions and announced the Qawma -Uprising- at first in 2006, then postponed the insurrection to 2007. This unfulfilled prophetic dream of Sheikh Yassin’s definitely tarnished the image of the Jamaa and gives the nostalgic image of a backward-looking cult under the thumb of a man who has lost his mind. The young enthusiasts got impatient, but could not do anything against their Morshid. They could hardly neutralize his daughter Nadia Yassine in the beginning of 2011.
Today, the death of Sheikh Abdeslam Yassine ends the biggest political mistake of the Kingdom. While he could have turned the movement into one of the largest political parties of the country at the beginning of this century, Sheikh Yassin chose to sink into his contradictions, between mystical illusions and political realities. Because of his behavior, he aborted any chances Al Adl Wal Ihssane had to become a major player in the Moroccan political field.
Edited by Louise Riondel