Morocco: A Revolution of Fluff

Posted on | februari 23, 2011 | No Comments

Moroccans have grown impervious to their leadership’s dictatorial hubris. They have come to realize that the internet is an intractable shield that has stripped our Machiavellian leaders off of their protective invisibility cloak and rendered their political dogmatism impotent. They and their minions can no longer project a perverted reality. Their license to arrest, torture, and kill dissenters has been revoked and they are now, thanks to twitter, youtube, and facebook, subjected to the hawkish scrutiny of the international street community.

By demonstrating, high school and college students, digitally connected and strongly disenchanted with the current state of Moroccan affairs, are conveying their urgent need for a lifeline out of an otiose education system, crippling social institutions and a covetous plutocracy – led by the Fassi gang – that has usurped the destiny of Moroccans. They have to protest the evident legacy of the culture of acquiescence. They have to denounce ignorance, poverty, corruption, and the political profiteering they witness on a daily basis. They have to reject the bankrupt future that will be bequeathed to them. Anything less will be cowardice. The government has been temporizing; its officials cling to de jure power and act like temps with a bad attitude. But by demonstrating, the Moroccans are saying that this can no longer be shunt aside.

Or can it?

The rumblings of a demonstration in Morocco could be heard during the early stages of the Tunisian revolution. They intensified during the Egyptian revolt. Analysts and pundits in Morocco and elsewhere argued that such uprising will never take place in Morocco; the Moroccan government is structurally and substantially different than the other Arab government. It is, but these uprisings are not about the governments; they are about the people. And Moroccans are just as economically exploited, politically subjugated, inextricably mired in poverty and ignorance. Young men and women aghast at Morocco’s current reality are dashing for the border, healthy pregnant women and their babies are hemorrhaging to death on the very floors of hospitals, millions of Moroccans live in squalid environments, and the free media is fined into submission (Rachid Nini) or extension (Benchemsi, Bou’achrine).

Arab despots generally respond to dissent in accordance with the same standard operating procedure (SOP): overwhelming suppressive violence. They subsequently discover that people are desensitized to and provoked by confrontation. They realize that to quell the revolt they would have to resort to acts that would demonize them in the eyes of the international community. They then change their strategy, often at the behest of the U.S., or Europe; all of a sudden they acquire a sense of altruistic urgency and promise immediate reforms, subsidize subsistence necessities, raise salaries, swear they will not run for reelection, tap their heels three times and dish out freshly conjured up employment opportunities.

The Moroccan government has followed the same SOP, but in an ingenious time sequence.

In January 2011, Spanish media reported that the Moroccan top brass has deployed troops from its southern provinces to Casablanca and Rabat to be on standby for an eventual emulation of Tunisia and Egypt. The quintessentially condescending Khalid Naceri vehemently voiced the government’s denial, but failed to explain why a mobilization order was issued – military personnel were recalled from leave and restricted to their bases.

In the past weeks, security elements in numerous cities have conducted a large scale intimidation campaign against young adherents of reforms, especially members of the nascent “February 20 Movement for Change” Facebook group; some were seeing as incorrigible drivers of instability and were promptly and surreptitiously rounded up. The arrests came in anticipation of Sunday’s peaceful demonstrations to demand fundamental reforms of the government and the constitution. In the meanwhile, Abbas El Fassi met with the leaders of the political parties to discuss how the pernicious trend sweeping across the Arab world could be mitigated. He ordered the police to keep a minimal footprint in the streets during the demonstrations. He called a family/government meeting and directed his nephews, cousins, and in laws to field their legions of lobbyists (which in Morocco could be anybody from the $10 small time neighborhood youth activity organizers to the $100 and up independent media big shot) to launch a smear blitz against organizers of the “February 20 Movement for Change” while directing government representatives to not only officially embrace the objectives of the group, but appropriate its actions. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Economy and Finance, voiced his support for the 20 Feb. protest; Khalid Naceri told anybody that would listen that Morocco has twenty to twenty-four such demonstrations on a daily basis, that such practice is an integral part of our democracy, and that the government’s and the King’s agenda coincide on those very changes the people demand.

Sunday demonstrations revealed the true nature of Morocco’s problem: a total lack of social and political vision. The movement was highjacked by complicit political parties while demonstrators stood around like extras in a bad 2M commercial. A motley crew of confused citizens brandishing pickets and chanting confused slogans demanding a new government, a new constitution, a “better” democracy. They might as well be calling for world peace. Despite their revolutionary fervor, most couldn’t stay past 1530. Instead of solidifying democracy, the Sunday demonstration became a perversion of democracy. “The train of reform is finally in motion,” announced a broadcaster in Morocco ‘state television on Monday. “Morocco’s young demonstrators prevailed. In response to their demands, the king has established an Economic and Social Council that will be presided over by Chakib Benmoussa, a Fassi. Is that the Chakib Benmoussa that was fired in January 2010 from his position as an Interior Minister? Yes! Whom else to appoint at the head of a council designed to alleviate social problems than an old guard known to be complicit in the social declension the demonstration stood against. I don’t think de-friending Benmoussa will be enough to convey to the King the nation’s disapprobation.

The old Arab aphorism remains true: the dogs bark; the caravan moves on!

AUTHOR: Ahmed T. B. / Cabalamuse
E-MAIL: cabalafuse [at]
AREA: Morocco


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