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Morocco: Changing Nothing and Everything

As summer in the kingdom wears on, bloggers across Morocco all seem to be talking along the theme of change. From the foreign experience in Morocco to the freedom (or lack thereof) of the press, the blogoma is waxing philosophical on a variety of topics. Perennial blogger Everything Morocco, a foreigner living in Fez, has recently posted about domestic violence in Morocco. After discussing the reality in the country, she advises:

At this point, I suspect only women are still reading this post. Fact is Ladies, we live in a patriarchal world no matter where you are from and violence is a reality for all of us whether it be physical, mental or emotional. Men make the rules we live by and we are complicit in this situation by the way we live and the way we continue to teach our children. Until women take responsibility for the bad behavior of their sons and husbands and teach them otherwise, this violence will continue. Until women stand together and refuse to be treated like chattel, they will be used like domestic labor. Every time you turn the other cheek to mistreatment from a man, you are enabling him to do it again to someone else. Every time you fail to discipline your son's disrespect to a woman, you are teaching him that his attitude is okay.

Women are stronger than men in every respect except physical musculature. We live longer, we are more intelligent, our pain threshhold and stamina surpass that of males, and our chances of survival at birth exceeds that of males by two. So why are they making the rules that govern our lives?

Photo by eatbees

Photo by eatbees

The above photograph was recently taken by blogger eatbees in Fez, with the following explanation:

If I had to pick a single image to sum up what I’ve seen so far in Morocco, I guess it would have to be this one.

A young man rests on his bicycle, overcome by fatigue or even despair in the middle of his route. People pass by, indifferent, no doubt consumed by their own problems. The nowhere quality of the place just underlines the theme.

The blogger, who has just returned to Morocco after a three year absence, remarks on how little – and how much – the country has changed, and says:

To be honest, I was reluctant to return to Morocco because I thought I might be saddened in this way. Coming from a nation where everything works despite having just suffered a major economic crisis, it’s difficult to undertand a society that remains stuck despite the enormous inventiveness, curiosity, motivation, and native intelligence of the Moroccan people.

When I was here in 2003–2006, there was a feeling that despite all the obstacles of an underdeveloped nation, change was in the air and the future would be brighter. It was easy then for me to explain what I loved about Morocco, a nation reaching for democracy and opportunity while holding to the best of its traditions. Today I have a harder time answering that question.

I’ll have more to say on this later, but for now I pose the question to you, dear readers. Is Morocco stuck, and why?

Janelle of {from} Warp {to} Weft writes on the the complicated topic of brain drain in Morocco, a country which loses some of its best young minds every year to universities and jobs abroad. She muses:

There has been rapid migration in Morocco from rural areas to the cities. Morocco's increase in imports has also driven down prices for farmers which also increases the migration to cities. Also the increase in imports has allowed for carpet weavers access to chemical dyes for a lower cost than using natural dyes. More girls are going to school, which means that if you believe that education is intrinsically good for all than this is an improvement for society but it has also led to more strain on families. Often educated daughters want to move away, and those who stay are more discontent than they ever have been. Carpet weaving is a skill that is decreasing as education of women increase. From a developmental standpoint, this is a conundrum. There is an oversupply and low demand of educated people for rural areas to sustain while there is a decreasing supply of artisans and an arguably stable demand for their products.

She then implores her American readers to think about U.S. immigration policies, saying:

So this week as you reflect on what it means to be American, think about immigration and foreign policy abroad. We live in a democracy and although our nation has become bloated to the point of stasis, there is a reason that the first amendment was put 1st! Speak freely, ask questions, and question the agenda of the media, the government, and so-called development organizations who claim to be bringing change.

Finally, A Moroccan About the World Around Him talks about the latest movement against the smothering of the free press in Morocco where, until recent years, it was unthinkable to rise up against the government in such a way. The blogger explains:

Over twenty independent Moroccan newspapers and magazines, in an unprecedented show of discontent, published blank editorials to protest the government’s legal campaign to silence them. Since the press law reform of 2002, Moroccan media have seen an increase in stiff criminal penalties and civil damages against journalists and the publications they write for. So stiff, in fact, that if a country’s wealth were to be guaged by the fines it imposes on its free media, Morocco would be considered one of the richest countries in the world. The punitive judicial sanctions were levied for what the Moroccan authorities perceived as libeling government officials, institutions, and foreign dignitaries, undermining the nation’s image by reporting on the criminal involvements of government representatives, insulting Islam’s tenets, and disrespecting the person of the king. Many believe the government’s perception to be skewed and that the court rulings were motivated by political retributions orchestrated by incumbent officials and affluent businessmen who collude among themselves to advance their personal agenda at the expense of the citizens’ and are incensed to see their despoiling of Morocco’s national treasures plastered on the front pages of dailies and weeklies; the government’s insistent push for ruinous fines against the independent media and jail terms against its journalists aims at garroting their ability to report to the public on the undemocratic practices of the Moroccan authorities.

2 comments

  • There is surely a sense of lost opportunity amongst many countrymen/women I know. The window of opportunity that has opened in the late 90s has been squandered and the established power has gained confidence and strength, whilst the progressive camp after being decimated by decades of oppression lacked the vision and leadership that could have inspired the young, change-thirsty generation of Moroccans. The blogs you quoted Jillian, reflect quite candidly that state of affairs.

  • redouane

    All these blogs reflect what has been a fact for 50 years,the perenial impossibility of the Moroccan society to reach its aspirations which will come only through change. People in Morocco are self-deceptive at best. They say they want change but they want the changes that suit them only. It seems that they cannot approach their view outside of their immediate world.

    They want to be given a piece of the pie without even working for it. As if the only way to satisfaction is to usher in a redeemer of sort who can save them. M6 was thought to be a redeemer for the sins of his father, but I do not think he could or will even handle the sins of the society itself. It is a much deeper than want the blogs seems to be singing.

    The people who are in the position of distributing the pies, give them on conditions that the pie eaters be in perpetual servitude. Moroccan society suffers from deep seated symbolic domination and servitude of all against all. Symbolic means it comes from the culture of alienation, self-hatred and predation.

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