Millions of Moroccans headed to the polls today to take part in a political process many lament will only offer the Moroccan people more of the same. So if voters aren't particularly enthused, who could blame them?
It's Morocco's eighth parliamentary elections since 1960, but as Amazigh Blog (fr) wrote last week, ‘WHAT IS NEW in 2007? Personally, if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say NOTHING.”But what happens when a group of “idealistic nomads at heart” decide to bust out of the corporate grind and do something to spice up the country's rather sluggish political debate?
Intikhabat.2007.com (Fr) is a new, submission-driven photoblog with a rather simple concept: get Moroccans to express their thoughts on politics, one picture at a time.The folks behind Intikhabat2007.com prefer to remain anonymous, but describe themselves as young professionals active in social or community projects, and without any particular political affiliations. “We're just interested in finding creative ways to improve the political situation in our country,” one of the website's organizers said in an email.
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I decided to interview the site's organizers to get the story behind Intikhabat2007.com's genesis in their own words:
Why did you decide to start Intikhabat2007.com?
32 (yes 32! can you believe it?) political parties are participating in these legislative elections but their campaigns have mostly failed to interest Moroccan citizens. Most parties, if not all, have decided to avoid bringing up some very fundamental issues to the forefront of the debate and, in sinking to the lowest common denominator, have rendered themselves indistinguishable in the eyes of a majority citizens. They have also been incessantly campaigning to market and advertise their “symbols” (each party is represented by a symbol…mostly animals and household objects) and have forgotten to establish two way communication channels with their constituencies.Intikhabat2007.com was created to give the chance to citizens to express themselves and send out messages hopefully encouraging debate on issues that actually interest them and that may have been overlooked. The site is also a chance to organize information, presenting links to every party's political programme, their respective websites, legal documents and other interesting citizen initiatives. Not all political parties are the same and well informed citizens can make better choices and decisions.Yes, definitely. The idea actually came a few days ago while browsing some projects described on “www.demologue.com” which is a very interesting reference on the role of digital activism in promoting democracy…the final concept was developed after an online voice discussion through skype that brought together three friends from Morocco, France and Canada.
Why use pictures?
They say pictures are worth a thousand words, maybe pictures with some words on them are worth even a bit more…
How do you think citizen media and “new media” formats (blogs, podcasts, etc.) can contribute to political dialogue in Morocco?
New media formats have already been contributing immensely to the political dialogue in the country especially over the past few months. Bloggers such as “Larbi”, “Eatbees”, and “Ibn Kafka” (I'm missing to mention many more) have written countless posts and articles presenting truly fresh perspectives, which have engendered enormous debate, dialogue and discussions.
Others, such as the now infamous “Targuist Sniper” have posted videos on youtube.com exposing corruption in the country's police force by filming some of them in the act and catching them red-handed on tape. “www.selwane.tv ” which started out as a local initiative in the city of “Salé” has become nationally the best source of video media relating to the elections. They have conducted and posted over 50 video interviews with leaders and representatives of political parties, members of civil society, artists and citizens.
What are your plans for this project after the election?
Election day this Friday should not be considered as the final culmination of a period or process but only as an important intermediary step. Results will be published, coalitions will be formed, ministers will be chosen, others will be appointed, parties and people need will need to be held accountable, and intikhabat2007.com will always be active as long as citizens feel the need to have a channel through which they can send their messages and express their opinions.
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Pictures speak volumes about Moroccan politics
Intikhabat2007.com was launched only this week, but has already generated interest, and a number of submissions, from Moroccans around the world.
Simo and Leila in Boston, with the help of some South Park friends, say, “We love our country and want to contribute to its future…when will [Moroccans living abroad] have the right to vote?”
(Sanaa in Vancouver posts a photo about that same topic, to which a reader replies: “I have never understood why they didn’t let MREs vote even if everybody rush to meet with them at the Port in Tangiers and airports. They want their money, but not their votes.”)Imane from Casablanca has a word to say about internet censorship:
And as usual, an image of youth speaks loudest. Ilyas from Fes holds a sign that reads, “Attention please! My future is in your hands!”
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Intikhabat2007.com's readers on the legislative electionsKamal:
UNTIL THE POWER IS SHIFTED TO THE PRIME MINISTER WHO IS FREELY ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE THESE ELECTIONS ARE REALLY IRRELEVANT.
…et vu ce qu’on lit dans la presse, ….nos partis politiques n’assurent pas vraiment leur rôle de sensibilisation et d’encadrement des citoyens…………on a vu se multiplier par quatre le nombre de ces partis politiques ….n’importe qui créer son partis……certains partis politiques dites nationaliste ou ceux qui ont participé à l’histoire de notre pays sont devenu des citadelles…des châteaux forts …on ne peut pas y accéder…l’écart se creuse de plus en plus entre la base de nos partis et leur sommet….certains mammouth ou chef de partis sont au sommet depuis des décennies….ne veulent pas accepter le changement ….laisser les jeunes prendre les choses en main …et vivre leur époque…et participer pleinement à la citoyenneté…
…seeing what we read in the press,…our political parties aren't really fulfilling their role of educating and training of citizens……we've seen the number of political parties multiplied by four…anyone and everyone is creating their own party……some so-called nationalist political parties or those who have participated in the history of our country have become citadels…forts…we cannot enter…the gap between the base of our parties and its higher echelons grows greater and greater…some mamomoths or heads of parties have occupied their place on the top for decades…they don't want to accept change..let the youth take things into their own hands…and live their age..and participate fully as citizens.And the last word goes to Obligatoire:
je n’ai jamais participé au election au maroc, parceque tout simplement c’est une connerie…
I have never participated in elections in Morocco for the simple reason that they are a farce…
For more on the elections and Moroccan politics, the folks at Intikhabat2007.com suggest checking out arbi.org, blog.ma/obiterdicta, eatbees.com, poliquonautemarocain.blogspot