I am a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew and a Buddhist too. If you don't like it, then this place is not for you, but as long as you don't force your beliefs on anyone, you're welcome to join in, it doesn't matter if you're a liberal, a republican or just simply you.
As a Moroccan-Dutch citizen who has lived in a democratic society almost all my life, the king still having some say in government affairs and the power to appoint people for certain positions, is not that big of a deal to me, as I am also used to that (although to a much lesser extent) from the Dutch queen, who is just as inviolable in the Dutch constitution and is part the government as head of state:
"Since 1848, the Constitution has laid down that the monarch is inviolable. This means that the monarch is politically neutral and the ministers are accountable to Parliament for government policy. The ministers are also politically accountable for what the monarch says and does. As head of state, the monarch co-signs new Acts of Parliament. He/she also contributes to the formation of new governments, In addition, the monarch is President of the Council of State and every year delivers the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the parliamentary session."
What is a big deal to me however, are the phenomenal new set of human rights and civil liberties (among other things) that are now guaranteed in the Moroccan constitution and can truly lead to real democracy, if put to good use and followed through on.
Installing an overnight democracy could possibly destabilize the nation, so I personally prefer the separation of powers in gradual increments as society continues to evolve.
Let's face it, if we were to hold a new election in a few months, it's not like the current crop of politicians are going to magically disappear from the political scene and we'll have a brand new pool of capable, reform minded politicians to choose from, who would help pave the way towards real democracy. The Feb20 has provided plenty of opportunity and ample time for new alternative political leadership to present itself, but I have yet to see anyone stand out that I can look up to or even be somewhat confident that they'll do a good job. It's going to take a lot of hard work to get there.
As a resident of the United States, I can also tell you that "a government by the people for the people" is a far cry from reality, as I experience first hand how even the most democratically elected government generally does not act in concert with the will of the people once elected into office.
I have supported the Feb20 since day one in their demands for reform, and evidently so did the king or we wouldn't have that brand new constitution today, with many of their demands met. Although I did not support their voting boycott, I do believe it was good for the Feb20 movement itself because it showed consistency with their "no concessions" stance since the very beginning. Had they chosen otherwise, they would have looked like hypocrites and would have completely lost credibility in my view. I think both, the king and the Feb20 deserve a huge round of applause for this new constitution, regardless of their respective fundamental differences.
Despite the many imperfections of how this new constitution came to be, I can truly say that overall I'm proud of King Mohamed VI for his leadership and I'm proud of the Moroccan people on how they handled everything in the face of change and adversity.
This was the first time in my life that I voted in any political process.
Even a partial win is still a win, right? So what seems to be the problem?
OK, let’s imagine the Feb20 contestation was a baseball game instead of a process towards reform and democracy. And let’s look at the Feb20 as a baseball team playing against the Makhzen, and the king being the referee and the highest authority to make the final calls.
The Makhzen has never lost a single game and in this case they are once again favored to win the game, because they are playing on their home turf. Doesn’t necessarily mean the game was fixed to begin with, although highly possible, but in plain baseball terms it simply means they are the reigning champs, so they get the home field advantage and they get to enjoy the support of a roaring crowd rooting for the home team. And if against all odds the Feb20 somehow ends up winning the game, they are the ones who will have the home team advantage as the reigning champs next time around.
In baseball terms, a grand slam is when all bases are loaded and the next player at bat hits the ball far enough (preferably a home run and even better if it’s in the last inning) to secure a score of 4 runs which is the maximum amount possible in a single play. In the case of Feb20 this means (1) separation of power, (2) end to corruption, (3) dissolution of parliament, (4) Human rights and civil liberties.
As it turns out, the Feb20 played a mighty good game against the reigning champs and managed to stay ahead scoring runs every inning (in terms of Human Rights and Civil Liberties), despite the fact that their opponent used every trick possible along the way, even getting physical, using brute force at times to secure a win. So then in the bottom of the 9th (last) inning, the Feb20 is at bat, all bases are loaded, they feel pretty good about themselves, not only because they know they have a good chance at winning, but especially because they played such a spectacular game, they even managed to turn the support of the home crowd around in their favor. You know how everybody loves an underdog! At this point they just couldn’t lose even if they tried.
But then as fate would have it, the referee blows the whistle and declares the game over just when they’re getting ready to hit. The Feb20 resists and insists on having their chance at hitting a home run and possibly secure that grand slam they were aiming for. The referee insists: game over. He says to the Feb20: just accept it, you played a great game and just look at your score card (the proposed constitution), you won fair and square. So now be a good sport, let’s move on to the ceremony and accept your well deserved trophy. The Feb20 wouldn’t hear of it, they insist on going into overtime, demanding a fair process, because somewhere down in previous innings their opponents didn’t play according to the rules (of democracy), making all kinds of fouls, which were unjustly ruled in their favor as well as causing loss of time. The Feb20 being relatively new to the game refuses to accept the fact that such is typical in the case of home team advantage in any sports (absolute Monarchy), but especially when you’re playing at this level, when stakes are pretty high. The home crowd is restless and with just a slight push they could easily turn violent if they don’t like what they see and possibly start a riot which could prove costly for everyone and end up ruining a mighty good game.
That’s pretty much where it’s at right now. I do realize that I sound like the odd one out, but that is the way I see it. The Feb20 perhaps not yet realizing or not willing to accept what great things they have accomplished so far, still insist on a chance at a grand slam, that’s why they’ve decided to boycott the upcoming constitutional referendum.
So what the king was basically saying is that this is as far as he can go on implementing reforms towards a real democracy at this time. I must admit, I was a bit confused when he asked all fellow Moroccans to follow him in voting YES on the proposed constitutional amendments. I thought, well that not very democratic of you, Your Majesty. I was even more confused when he stated his reason for voting YES. I thought, what's the Sahara issue got to do with the people's call for democracy? It didn't make any sense to me. I do understand that the Sahara issue may be an underlying factor in terms of safeguarding national security and stability during these revolutionary times in the region, not the mention the fact that Islamic militancy is always lurking around the corner with intense aspirations for establishing an Islamic caliphate around the world, but I find it hard to comprehend when it's cited as a reason behind his take-or-leave-it offer.
Now if the king had said that he doesn't feel like we're quite ready for a full-fledged democracy yet, but willing to continue implementing gradual changes as time goes on to avoid possible anarchy if things don’t go as well as planned. Or even if he had said that he doesn't yet believe in the success of an independent government under the current circumstances and wants to test the waters first, I would have said yes Your Majesty, I fully agree. But then again, if the king would have said that, he would have probably had a lot of more explaining to do. So instead, he cited the one crucial issue that’s at the heart of every Moroccan: The Moroccan Sahara. The rest we’re supposed to figure out on our own or simply trust him and follow his lead in voting YES.
Then I thought maybe taking the king’s speech at face value is not really what he was asking us to do in the first place, but given the relatively short amount of time we were given to decide, I still felt conflicted. So then I discussed this with one of my friends and she pointed out to me that maybe that’s what the good old wise professor Driss Benali was hinting at a while back. I think she's right, that was an aha moment for me for sure.
“But in general, I believe that the Moroccan society should be built upon new reforms that provide the people with the mechanism to monitor and hold the government accountable. For the society to achieve this goal, they have to organize and create institutions and political parties, unlike the parties that we currently have. We need independent political parties with programs and responsible, accountable leadership. We critically need these reforms.”
Please do read the entire transcript and pay special attention the last paragraph in his statement. Of course you may interpret his words as you wish, but it seems to me thet the professor’s advice is in concert with what the King is trying to implement. First things first, we can’t even begin to speak about dissolution of parliament and full separation of powers if we don’t have a new constitution in place, that spells out democracy Moroccan style.
I do understand that the feb20 feels like they have no other choice than to continue their course with the "Mamfakinch and Mamsawtinch" philosophy, after all, that is the role they have played since day one and it is exactly that which has caused us to come this far towards improvements. But on the other hand, all indicators show that the king is indeed listening and willing to implement reform and all he's saying is see, I'm working with you. Now please just work with me here and together we can continue to make things better for all of us. Although he is saying it from a distance (and in no uncertain terms), instead of engaging them directly to reach an understanding. But then again, maybe the two parties do need to reamin at odds with each other to maintain the pressure on reform and change the status quo.
First off, I am in no position to tell anyone what to do, but I can't allow myself to sit back and relax without stating the obvious. The current state of the February 20 movement.....after taking a serious beating at the hands of the Makhzen in the last couple of weeks, the situation has become alarming and confused, to say the least. Just when everyone cautiously started believing that perhaps Morocco really is that exception in the region that everyone is talking about, the authorities declare that the movement is no longer legitimate. They say now that leftist extremists along with Islamic extremists have hijacked the movement, everyone needs to stay home, no more public protests allowed.
Of course I can only go by what's reaching my eyes and ears through the grapevines, the latest of which has drastically reversed the process towards progress in the following sequence:
1 Just before the nationwide protests that were scheduled to take place on May 22, authorities issued a ban on the protests in major cities, without explaining as to why this ban all of a sudden.
2 Protesters took to the streets en masse anyway and received a brutal beating at the hands of the Makhzen for disregarding the ban, followed by a sequence of press releases by authorities justifying the use of excessive force against peaceful civilians. Now the natives are restless and increasingly leaning towards revolution instead of reform as a result.
I think Morocco does a very poor job with its PR apparatus btw. If I were king and supreme leader of my country, I would grab the mic and go on screen myself instead of using that annoying communications minister and what have you.
If I were king and I do really care...
I would for once ignore official protocol and do something outrageous to get in touch with my people and explain the status quo.
I would definitely NOT give a stuffy televised speech that would be understood by less than half the population as usual.
I would make a casual recording instead, from the comfort of my home, speaking in plain Darija and then upload it to YouTube like every Moroccan seems to be doing these days.
I would start out by saying, dear folks, dear boys and girls, let's not waste time and get right down to business. First I would like to apologize for the heavy-handedness with which we've dealt with the latest developments in our country and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness. Let's talk about the state of our union and discuss openly how we can all work together to avoid a mess, which evil forces are working hard to impose on us....
I would use clear and concise language, identifying those evil forces by their proper name so that everyone who wants to help the situation, can be on the lookout and do what's right.
I would reach out to our youth especially, not only because they ARE the driving force behind this change movement, but also because historically it's the youth who tend to drive popular trends, whether it's political, cultural, fashion or otherwise.
I would do everything I can by the power vested in me, to reverse the violent trend we are currently facing and empower our youth to be equal partners in bringing meaningful lasting reform towards real democracy.
Sighhh...but I'm not king.
Just a concerned citizen dreaming out loud.
PS ~ If I were king, I wouldn't want to be known as the "cool king", I'd want to be known as "the king of cool" instead, because it's kings of cool who give power to trends that often go viral and become unstoppable, while the youth drive it home. And we all know that trends are $erious business. Bottom line, in the end I would still be king. Let's face it, he who understands youth has the future in the bag. Just ask the extremists, they know this all too well.
PPS ~ Moroccans are perfectly capable of reasoning if you give them a chance. They don't need to be beat up senseless to be reasoned with, so please give it a try sometime.
I'm not the religious type, but God and I are on good terms and we stay in touch frequently, so I have full faith that he is listening.
I was going to say a prayer for the Makhzen this morning to ask God to forgive them for their sins and the horrible crimes they committed against their fellow citizens yesterday. I also wanted to pledge a donation to a good cause on their behalf, because God knows they will need it, to help counteract the collective bad karma they got coming their way for all the senseless bloodshed they have unleashed against innocent defenseless civilians. But then I decided against it, because my stomach is still in knots from being angry.
So I'd like to use this opportunity to ask everyone to continue praying for the Feb20's success instead and keep spreading the positive vibes.
God speed my fellow citizens! May peace, love and common sense prevail!
Shameless self-promotion is something Moroccans typically shy away from, not only because bragging is not cool, but also because we're traditionally raised to be humble, and shyness is almost regarded as a noble virtue. We're taught to let others brag about us if there is indeed something worth bragging about. Kind of ridiculous if you're in a field that requires branding and Marketing to drum up business, no? And not a good thing if you're part of a cause that needs exposure to connect with the people, communicate, and reach far and wide. But this is probably why it took this long for us to finally get to know a little bit more about at least one of the leading members of Morocco's February 20 Youth Movement. Sure it's all about the cause, as it should be. We know all that from the slogans, the flyers, the ongoing public debates, the lists of demands, etc., but sometimes it's necessary to give a cause a human face to make it go the distance. More often than not, people are more inclined to support a cause if they're able to connect with those behind it and identify with them closely.
So with that said, if you haven't already heard of Selma Maarouf in the last couple of days, allow me to brag about her.
I seriously admire this girl! She is so incredibly courageous and smart, and so adorable too! I look forward to getting to know all the others on the team too.
Selma Maarouf: “I can say without fear of self deception that we will win; not only because truth and reason are on our side, but because we are ready to do whatever is necessary to get our rights back.”
On Sunday May 15th, Selma took part in a protest in Rabat where she was beaten, brutalized and harassed by security officers, leaving her badly bruised yet still fearless and determined as ever: Here is her account of the situation.
Many of us have seen Selma Maarouf on the first video calling for change in Morocco. She looked us straight in the eyes with her big brown eyes, as she declared: “I am Moroccan and I will go out on February 20 to demand that education is accessible to everyone and not a privilege of the wealthy.”
In just one video, she and her fellow feb20 youth had reached out to the world and rallied generations of Moroccans. Selma planted the seeds of hope in our hearts.
Selma stood at the forefront of every protest that took place in Rabat. With her brother Ghassane, they have been consistently spotted at every protest, nose to nose with security forces at times, but always undeterred and resolved: Selma raising a Facebook sign, handing a flower to a security officer, or defiantly standing up to the baltagui trying to intimidate her. A real ball of fire, hope, and courage! One might rightly say that where there is a will, there is Selma!
There's a peaceful revolution going on in Morocco, but it seems like international media has hardly noticed. Which is understandable in a way, considering that there are far more pressing issues going on that affect the global village and rightfully deserve the coverage, however excessive sometimes.
In the mean time, the march for freedom and democracy in Morocco continues, and while there are clear signs that progress is being made, it appears that the February 20 movement itself is just barely getting started and won't be done for a while.
In case you're wondering what the movement is up to, here are a few sites I would recommend:
Mamfakinch is the hottest new website providing coverage on events in Morocco, often with an inside scoop on the February 20 movement. They also found a fun way to get the word out recently, using an Einstein caricature as a spokesperson to explain Moroccan politics in English via YouTube. WTG guys!
That's all I have for now. I'll add more later if I find any.
A couple of months ago I had a discussion with a friend on Facebook where we came to the conclusion together that looking at history, not all revolutions are necessarily violent, recalling one of the most recent nonviolent revolutions during the fall of the Sovjet Union: Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution.
I believe Morocco's is another one that will go down in history as a peaceful revolution...which is kind of unique in and by itself, because it was set in motion years ago with the new king's reforms and gradually evolved into what it is now, undoubtedly influenced into switching gears to accelerated mode by the winds of change sweeping the region in recent months.
Look at the number of people that took to the streets yesterday just in Casablanca alone. Then when you look at the various videos showing the massive numbers all over the kingdom...WOW. If this isn't a revolution, then tell me what is. All it needs is a proper name. Well, I suppose it depends if the final outcome is indeed positive, meaningful and lasting change leading to true democracy, where the King rules and with a government by the people, for the people, but I don't see things going any other way but fast-forward from here on in.