A Year After: The February 20 Protest Movement in Morocco

A February 20 Movement protest in Marrakech, Morocco

Feb 21 2012

by Mohamed Daadaoui
On the one-year anniversary of the February 20 protest movement in Morocco, (henceforth referred to as Feb. 20), the kingdom boasts relatively meager political progress. Despite the much-vaunted reforms and constitutional changes, Morocco has reinvigorated its state edifice, managed to outmaneuver an inexperienced Feb. 20 protest movement, and engaged in a crackdown on freedom of the press and speech. In the last couple of weeks, the regime has arrested three Moroccans for crimes against his majesty’s person and “defaming Morocco’s sacred values.” In a country where the monarch is inviolable, the use of cartoons depicting the king is considered an outrage to a symbol of the country.

More importantly, a year after the initial mass protests, we need to assess the record of the movement in terms of appeal and success in Morocco. The Feb. 20 movement has undoubtedly sparked a national discussion for institutional changes, but fell short in exercising enough pressure for deeper structural changes to both the political system dominated by the king, and a system of crony-capitalism that has for decades crippled the national economy. The new constitution is an impressive exercise in state management of dissent. Groundbreaking only in its style and cosmetic in terms of real effective change, the constitution allows for greater executive power for the Prime Minister, but falls short in tackling the vast discretionary powers of the monarchy.

The constitution does not address aspects of direly needed reforms. Kleptocracy and nepotism are endemic in the Moroccan administration and economy. No matter how inchoate institutional reforms are, they have to be complemented with stringent, implementable guarantees against abuse of power, corruption, and inequality of the laws. Individual freedom and liberty of the press are guaranteed in the constitution, but have to be safeguarded from the arbitrary abuses of the state. The result is the same maladies of yesteryear: a regime suffering from institutional schizophrenia, promoting inconsequential reforms, and tightening its grip on power and individual freedom.  Continue reading

Moroccan forces attack refugee camp in Western Sahara

Moroccan forces dismantle a camp housing thousands of refugees in the Western Sahara, near Laayoune

News.com, 08 November 2010

Clashes between Moroccan security forces and protesters in Western Sahara have killed at least six people after authorities raided the site of the disputed territory’s largest anti-government protest in decades.
Moroccan officials said Monday that protesters killed four police officers and a firefighter, while the pro-independence Polisario Front said Moroccan forces killed a 26-year-old activist.

Fighting began when Moroccan troops broke up a camp of thousands of tents erected a month before near the desert city of Laayoune to protest against deteriorating living standards in the region. Several hundred people then moved into Laayoune, blocking roads, setting fire to cars and throwing stones at police.

Monday’s early morning raid came hours before representatives from the Moroccan government and the Polisario Front met in New York for informal United Nations-sponsored talks aimed at ending the stalemate over the North African territory.

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said it is “highly unfortunate” that the operation has affected the talks and called on all parties involved to exercise restraint in the days to come.

Morocco’s 1975 annexation of the resource-rich former Spanish colony sparked a war between its forces and Polisario insurgents, who maintain Morocco has consistently violated the human rights of the territory’s inhabitants, known as Sahrawis. Morocco, in turn, says Polisario forces have committed abuses at Sahrawi refugee camps in neighboring Algeria. Continue reading

Morocco: Statement opposing government attacks on student movement

Communique de  Camarades du Maroc-10/21/10

With the deepening of the general crisis of imperialism, in a number of imperialist countries  major attacks have been directed against the gains the working class has long struggled for. What happened in recent months in England or in France are examples.

These imperialist attacks also affected other peoples through plans and policies aimed at the division of the world.  This is illustrated by the outbreak of the People’s War in Nepal, Peru, Philippines, and India–even though,  in the latter country, the People’s War is experiencing a wave of encirclement and attempted annihilation led by the reactionary regime of India and supported by the imperialists.

In our country, facing the sharpening of class struggle, attacks against the reactionary regime Moroccan life of the masses takes the form of multiple plans affecting the privatization of all the vital sectors of the country (emergency plan … ) and the accompanying laws (law on political parties, the right to strike, press, law against so-called anti-terrorist ..) are, in turn, further reducing political and union freedoms.

This is illustrated by the recent crackdown on popular struggles that took place in villages and Ikli Ourika where houses were destroyed without any compensation to residents. Continue reading

Morocco bans Al-Jazeera reporters over ‘irresponsible’ coverage

The Moroccan government must be feeling shaky if it has to ban Al-Jazeera

Earth Times, 29 Oct 2010

Rabat – Morocco has withdrawn accreditation from correspondents of the Arab television channel al-Jazeera because of their “irresponsible” coverage of the North African kingdom, the Communication Ministry announced Friday.  Al-Jazeera had violated the journalistic rules of “honesty, precision and objectivity” several times, the ministry said.

The Qatar-based channel’s coverage had tarnished Morocco’s image, downplaying its achievements in areas such as development, infrastructure projects, democracy and human rights, the ministry complained. It had also damaged Morocco’s interests in areas such as its territorial integrity, the communique said, in an apparent reference to Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara.

Al-Jazeera had not heeded several official warnings, the ministry said, explaining that Rabat had decided to expel the TV broadcaster after carefully evaluating its reports. The channel had also imported technical equipment without the required permits, the ministry added.

Al-Jazeera had reported critically on poverty in Morocco and on its policies in Western Sahara, a territory annexed after 1975, where separatists accuse Rabat of repression, observers said. Continue reading