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

Al Jazeera: African migrants in Europe speak out

Migrants all over Europe fight for their rights and try to improve their situation.
20 Sep 2011

What to do when you are mistreated as an African immigrant in Europe?

Hip hop artist K-Nel presents reports about migrants all over Europe who fight for their rights and try to improve their living conditions.

Sissoko Azoumane from Mali is the spokesman for a protest movement in Paris, that fights for papers for the undocumented migrants who have been living in France for years, contributing to the French economy. But a new law has eroded all of their hopes for papers.

Sorious Samura checks out how some migrants even clone identities in order to try to get a job.

Wahabou from Senegal survived a devastating fire that killed 20 people in an apartment where migrants were housed, and decides to do something about fire safety in Parisian buildings.

In Brescia, Italy, Africans unite to improve housing conditions when they get evicted as a result of anti-immigration sentiments.

11 protesters killed by security forces in Yemen

TAIZ, YEMEN : At least eleven protesters were killed during clashes with security forces in southwestern Yemen, the Yemen Post reported on Monday.

According to medical staff, nine demonstrators were killed on Sunday and two more died on Monday. Protesters clashed with Yemeni law agents in the main street and a square of Taiz city.

Taiz Governor Hamoud al-Soufi denied reports of civilian deaths and said that riot police was deployed to control clashes that he claimed were provoked by infiltrators and some ‘young hotheads’.

Al-Soufi added that they threw stones at the security forces and as a result eight police officers were injured, one seriously. However, local media and witnesses said that the riot police were shooting at unarmed protesters.

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands staged a peaceful demonstration to demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The police intercepted the massive demonstration heading to the Taiz government building.

The protesters departed from the main square and police officers used live ammunition and nerve gas against them for hours. On Monday, demonstrations continued in both Taiz and Sana’a.

The demonstrators condemned the deadly crackdown on the anti-Saleh protests in Taiz and other cities. They marched through the streets of Sana’a and gathered in Change Square outside Sana’a University.

In addition, a deadly crackdown between protesters and police officers took place in the western province of Hodeida. Hundreds of people attempted to reach the republican palace but police fired at them, killing at least 8 protesters and wounding many more.

President Saleh blamed the unrest on a foreign agenda and added that some hostile media outlets have exaggerated about the situation in Yemen. He recently fired his government and then designated it as caretaker until a new government is formed.

The decision was announced after 52 protesters were killed by security forces on March 25. Yemeni protesters have been demanding the resignation of Saleh for the past two months. The demonstrations were initially inspired by the Tunisian revolt, but they gathered momentum with the success of Egypt’s revolution.

–BNO News

Women in Yemen have found their voice

By Afrah Nasser

SANAA, Yemen—Traditionally in Yemen, women are literally not allowed to raise their voices. Even calling out in the street to attract someone’s attention is considered unacceptable.

But in recent weeks, many women in the country have discovered their voice as they joined in the revolution that has not only swept the country but the region as well.

Women’s participation in this revolution started on a very small scale. Continue reading