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.
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.
Prior to Morocco's pro-democracy demonstrations, I wasn't exactly sure what news reporters meant when they were saying "Morocco is the exception" with regards to the current unrest sweeping the MENA region, but I do now.
One major difference between Morocco and most countries in the MENA region is that Morocco is ruled by a king, who is widely regarded as reformer and far from being a tyrant the likes of Gaddafi, Ben Ali or Mubarak.
Although here is at least one Moroccan who firmly disagrees with that claim and goes on camera talking smack to the king, telling him to get off his high horse and level with the people. He denies seeing any meaningful reforms done by the king and tells him the days of the sultanates a long gone, these are different times, do like the monarchs of Holland and Britain do, mingle with the people, find out first hand what they need and want....and he goes on and on.
Anyway, the dude sounds kind of full of himself and needs to get off his high horse if you ask me.
I followed the February 20 demonstrations all day long yesterday via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and various news outlets. At the end of the day I was left with mixed feelings, happy, excited and disappointed at the same time. I have never seen that many Moroccan people taking to streets, expressing their views freely and making demands for a better Morocco. Truly wonderful to see. Throughout the day, there were many conflicting reports causing confusion as to what's really been going on in all the different cities. There were reports ranging from peaceful protests and minor incidents to violent protests, rioting, looting and serious injuries taking place all over Morocco.
After all that's said and done, one thing clearly stood out for me after yesterday's events: Yes, there is one Morocco that's clearly unified under the king's rule, but there are two kinds of Moroccans that stand out as two separate entities with contrasting problems, but both ultimately want the same thing: change for a better Morocco, with more freedoms and job opportunities for the people and out with corruption and the parliament that doesn't work.
The first half of the day was highlighted by a segment of the population, which appeared to be educated, civilized, well informed and highly outspoken, and as the day progressed, I heard nothing but sighs of relief, expressions of pride, and kudos for the Moroccan authorities, thankful that the event was allowed to be peaceful, organized and dignified. When the demonstrations ended, many concluded that it was indeed a "Day of Dignity" - as it was dubbed prior to the event.
The second half of the day was marked by what appeared to be an ignorant, uncivilized angry mob resorting to violence, rioting and looting, determined to turn the day into a "Day of Rage" to get their point across.
Looking at a the images and videos depicting their violent outbursts, it appears to me that they were mainly targeting the authorities and anything symbolizing wealth, the establishment or even remotely catering to the elite, which to me says it all: ignorance beyond belief!
Violence doesn't solve anything.
Image source: Los Angeles Times
The King gave a speech today, surprisingly without any specific mention of yesterday's events, but he did present a new Social and Economic Council designed to address the nation's socioeconomic needs.
As we set up the Economic and Social Council, we are not only injecting fresh momentum into the reform process I launched shortly after I assumed the leadership my loyal people, but we are also underlining the close link between genuine democracy and the achievement of human advancement and sustainable development.
The establishment of the Council today attests to an abiding desire to steer clear of demagogy and improvisation as we strive to build our democratic development model on a solid foundation. The Council’s creation process has taken time to come to fruition, reflecting a determination to make it an efficient governance tool in the area of development. Things materialize in their own good time.
The Council is not in any way meant to serve as a third House. In fact, I want it to be a new, broad-based forum that strengthens the bodies which have been set up by the institution-based State to promote constructive dialogue, responsible freedom of expression and an effective response to the aspirations of the people, from all generations and segments of the population. It should reflect and consolidate the long-established tradition of effectively involving the nation’s resources in the search for collective, innovative answers to the major development issues in which I take a keen interest.
I applaud the Council’s broad-based membership, which includes representatives of economic and social stakeholders, social groups as well as scientists and intellectuals. As far as I am concerned, all Council members are on an equal footing.
I have decided to appoint Mr. Chakib Benmoussa as Chairman of the Council, and Mr. Driss Guerraoui as its Secretary-General, in view of their competence, integrity and experience. I expect all Council members to work closely together and to put the nation’s best interests above any other consideration.
The Council will act in an advisory capacity and will submit studies to the Government and Parliament. In this respect, I shall be encouraging both the Government and Parliament to seek the Council’s views on the economic and social issues about which I care deeply. Not only are these issues directly related to human rights and social justice, but they also impact people’s ability to lead a dignified life.
This means you will be expected to give top priority to developing a new social charter based on major contractual agreements that create the right environment to meet the challenge of revamping the economy, boosting competitiveness, promoting productive investment and encouraging public involvement to achieve development at a faster pace. The aim is to ensure an equitable distribution of the fruits of development, in keeping with principles of social justice and national solidarity.
Since training is a key element of the Council’s terms of reference, I expect you to propose efficient solutions to the main problems relating to vocational and technical training, the skills needed on the job market and the requirements of sector-specific strategies and major projects. Our ultimate goal is to ensure a dignified life for all Moroccans - particularly the underprivileged - and to foster the kind of comprehensive development that creates jobs, especially for our young people, who are the main focus of our development policies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am determined to forge ahead with the Moroccan model which, I must stress, is irreversible. We will be doing more than just safeguarding accomplishments. Indeed, new reforms will shore up the current process, thus reflecting the deep, mutual understanding and cohesion between the Throne and the loyal Moroccan people.
I am just as keen to pursue structural reforms in accordance with a clear roadmap based on specific objectives and the close bond between the Throne and the people. Our goal is to enable all Moroccans to lead a dignified life within a prosperous, united, fully sovereign and solidarity-based nation.
If you believe that Morocco needs change, join Moroccans for Change.
We aim to be a platform where all groups calling for a better Morocco can come together to support our demands for change on February 20th. We support a Morocco where justice, equality, freedoms and sharing into the country’s wealth is every Moroccan's right. We want dignity, education, health, and economic opportunities for everyone, and we will mobilize on February 20th to make our voices heard, in the most peacefully powerful way.
Over 40% of the Moroccan population is illiterate, about 60% of them are women. The state of public education is beyond deplorable. There are no social guarantees for the poor. According to Human Rights Watch, “Morocco has one of the highest child labor rates in the Middle East and North Africa. Although Moroccan law prohibits children under fifteen from working, government statistics suggest that at least six hundred thousand children age seven through fourteen— 11 percent of all children in that age group—are engaged in economic activity.” There are also between 10,000 and 14,000 street children in Morocco. According to Baiti association 98% of them are now addicted to sniffing glue.
King Mohammed VI has encouraged many changes and much of the legal framework is already at an advance stage of modernity; albeit many laws lack real translation into enforceable rules. Despite important advances in freedoms, and democracy, such as the creation of the Reconciliation and Truth Commission, the reform of the Moudawana, and various development projects, the country has experienced serious setbacks in the last few years. The authorities doubled in acts of injustice and violence against citizens, harassing journalists through illegitimate fines and trials, and imprisoning political activists.
The king has succeeded in symbolism and signs of humility, but he has yet to help create a country where social justice and sharing into the country’s wealth is everyone’s right and not a privilege of the few. The Makhzenian governing style inherited from the Hassan II era remains a serious problem. The Royal family owns the only real holding in Morocco, ONA, (Omnium North African) which enjoys a literal monopoly over most vital businesses and commodities. The system of exclusive licensing issued by the palace commonly called “Grimat,” (which stands for agreement) is still in place. This system allows the king to indiscriminately bestow authorizations to some of his subjects and most faithful servants, specifically the military, to operate taxis, buses and enjoy fishing permits. The king grants French journalists interviews, but we have yet to see a Moroccan paper given the same privilege. Moroccans are subjects of the king, rather than citizens, thus they do not enjoy the right to question the “constitutionally sacral authority” of the king. Currently, most of the key government positions are assigned to members of one Moroccan family. Corruption is a way of life, sustained by poverty at the bottom and much greed at the top.
In this climate of favoritism rather than healthy competition, Moroccans learn to despise each other, and social confidence is at the lowest. We all want to put an end to this. Clearly, many of those elected in the government and parliament share into the status quo, and much can be said about their own failure to bring about tangible changes. It is time for things to change. Our call for change in Morocco targets immediate reforms, and long term reforms that would take place soon after the constitution is reformed, and a new government is elected.
Constitutional reform: A new constitution with as a preamble the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The New constitution will outline guarantees for universal freedoms the following freedoms and rights, including specifically, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Human Rights, more specifically Women's Rights, Equality. Constitutional amendments will include article 19. Morocco shall become a parliamentary monarchy, where the King rules but does not govern. Free and democratic elections: New elections must be organized in a timely manner with the presence of international observers to ensure transparency, fairness and accountability. New Government Program: The new Government will focus on these priority issues: Socioeconomic reform: Address the issue of poverty: Priority should be given to education and training opportunities to give Moroccans the chance for a better future, and create the conditions for social justice. Education Reform: Education is a priority sector. We want education for all, and a reform of the curriculum to adapt it to the requirements of the global economy and the 21st century. End corruption and harassment: Human rights mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that all Moroccans are equal before the law. The right to diversity and pluralism must be acknowledged and guaranteed. Freedom of all Moroccans, men, women, children, Arabs and Berbers, must be explicitly included in the constitution’s preamble All provisions in Penal Code, Personal Status and other legal codes must reflect and guarantee the changes in the Constitution. In case of conflict, the new Constitution prevails.
Sounds like a beautiful dream and I would love to believe it, but a claim like that is too far fetched in my opinion. Making that connection is sweet and a lovely tribute to Dr King though, regardless of the motive.
I think it's safe to say that we've all witnessed a revolution sparked by the young's relentless desire and drive to be free from the shackles of tyranny and determined to control their own destiny. A revolution that spontaneously materialized before our eyes, with live images coming to usstraight from Tahrir Square and other parts of Egypt. We've all seen how the Egyptian people struggled in their fight for freedom with blood sweat and tears and sadly many of them paid the ultimate price.
Pundits and press have noted the peaceful atmosphere surrounding Egypt's revolution and the subsequent resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. While the events of the past two weeks will be debated for years to come, the American Islamic Congress, a non-profit group founded after September 11th, are citing a recently translated comic book about Martin Luther King Jr.'s non-violent philosophy as a potential factor in Egypt's civil disobedience.
Dalia Ziada is Egypt Director of the American Islamic Congress, a non-profit group founded in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to confront intolerance against Muslims, and later to promote peace and civil rights throughout the Arabic world. The AIC's HAMSA initiative - designed to link civil rights groups throughout the Middle East -- undertook in 2008 a project to translate The Montgomery Storyinto Arabic (and later Farsi). With the endorsement of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Ziada distributed 2,000 copies of the comic throughout the Middle East, and her efforts were consequently reported on by news sources including Time Magazine and History News Network:
Spreading the message of non-violent resistance throughout the Middle East is ultimately a means to an end for Ziada and the rest of the AIC; that is, to inspire action. "The main message I hope that Arabic readers will take from the MLK comic book is that: change is not impossible. It is time to stop using our muscles blindly. Let's try using our intellect in innovative, creative ways to pressure decision makers and end dictatorship, tyranny and the suppression practiced against us."
Is political Islam becoming more sensible all of a sudden? Even the Muslim Brotherhood claims to be secular now and secular Muslims are allowed a microphone. What's going on?
So far, the picture has not been pretty: the George W. Bush administration demonized the Muslim news media; Muslim journalists returned the favor. But research shows that the Obama administration has the opportunity to take a more sophisticated approach to those who drive public opinion throughout the Islamic world.
"And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can't help but hear the echoes of history, echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path justice. As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, there's something in the soul that cries out for freedom."
Anyway, it's a brand new day, yet some things will still remain the same.
Alarmists will still be alarmists.
Naysayers will still be naysayers.
Opportunists will still be opportunists.
Pessimists will still be pessimists.
Believers will still be believers.
At the end of the day, Egyptians did what no one thought possible only a few weeks ago....they've unleashed thehuman spirit in a way that will be contagious for years to come and no one can stop them now.
One could argue, would the revolution have been peaceful if Egyptians had the right to bear arms?
Maybe not. All they had was rocks to defend themselves against the evil regime, but they remained peaceful till the very end and the fact still remains, who cleaned up the mess after it was all over?