Morocco’s Party of Justice and development announced salafist Hammad Kabbaj to head its voter list in a Marrakech constituency, a move that has sparked controversy in the country.
39-year-old Kabbaj, a disabled salafist has been the subject of investigations and attacks from both liberals and salafists, but he proclaims that salafism will be the best tool to combat extremism.
“Salafism in its scholarly appearance as I mentioned, is a resistance against violence, extremism, and against anathema,” said Kabbaj.
Some Moroccan media sources have reported that Kabbaj’s religious vision is consistent with that of the Wahhabi Salafists, a religious movement and a branch of Sunni Islam, which is an ultra-conservative reform movement.
Others say that the controversial figure has worked together with Mohammad Maghraoui, a preacher who had published a religious ruling authorizing 9-year old girls to get married.
Morocco will hold a parliamentary election on Oct. 7, the second ballot since the Arab Spring uprisings.
The U.S. Department of State lists Morocco as “a strong partner in counter-terrorism efforts” that “works closely with U.S. law enforcement.” The country has not experienced many terror attacks, with the most recent instance of terrorism coming in 2011, when an explosion in the city of Marrakesh killed more than a dozen people at a popular tourist destination and injured at least 20, BBC had reported.
Other fairly recent instances of terrorism in Morocco include separate suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2007, highlighted by an attack at the U.S. diplomatic offices there in April of that year, according to Al Jazeera. And in 2003, suicide bombers launched five separate attacks in Casablanca and killed nearly four dozen people, including the bombers.