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Morocco: ‘Movement for Dignity’ Planned for 20 February, 2011

This post is part of our special coverage Morocco Protests 2011.

Morocco has been deemed the ‘unsusceptible exception’ to the current unrest in the Arab world; a few of the reasons why include King Mohammad VI’s immense popularity, the government's tactical approach to political Islam, and the influx of social reform projects across the country. The impression of a relatively stable kingdom is a result of the intricate relationship between the historical monarchy and the Moroccan culture.

On February 9, 2011, Moroccans held a relatively peaceful demonstration in front of the parliament in capital Rabat to express their solidarity with the people of Egypt in their pro-democracy protests:

Gathering in Moroccan capital Rabat, Morocco on 9 February, 2011 to express solidarity with Egyptians protestors. Image by article author Nabila Taj.

Gathering in Moroccan capital Rabat, Morocco on 9 February, 2011 to express solidarity with Egyptians protestors. Image by article author Nabila Taj.

Although in Morocco the monarch is essentially the government, there is a huge divide between the two in the minds of many Moroccans, which is why a ‘walk of love‘ was also organized on Facebook to express support for the king.

Despite all this, there is talk on the Internet about a ‘February 20, 2011, Movement for Dignity‘ [ar],

which is independent of all political parties, trade unions and other organizations in the arena, satisfied and committed to working within the framework of what it provides law and international covenants of human rights of the potential field of the act, its goal is to work alongside the Moroccan people to demand dignity and work for the good of this country to fight corrupt all those who stand against the popular will.

The leaders of the planned protest highlight the high cost of living, low wages, widespread unemployment, the spread of illiteracy, restrictions on the press, and the return of kidnappings and torture in political prisons, as the result of the government's disregard of the will of the people.

Reactions to the ‘Movement for Dignity’ movement range across the spectrum. Twitter updates from MaghrebBlog, MoroccanLove, and _Nizar_B all quote a statement [ar] from Moroccan activist Nadia Yassine: “the real transition will be achieved either voluntarily or by force.”

Yassine is founder and head of the Moroccan banned Islamist movement Al Adl Wa Al Ihssane (Justice and Charity); she has made a public statement supporting the ‘Movement for Dignity’, as long as it remains peaceful.

Blogger Shiftybox predicts failure [fr]:

Puisque la notion de gouvernement chez les marocains est entièrement distincte de la personne du roi, et que ce dernier ne ferait pas parti de l’appareil étatique corrompu, le roi bénéficie automatiquement d’une continuité d’allégeance en cas de révolte anti-gouvernementale et la machine communicationnelle poli sa réputation. Et face à un gouvernement « pourri » et « intéressé », le roi devient l’alternative idéale et personnalise l’espoir.

Since the concept of government in Morocco is entirely separate from the person of the king, and that he would not benefit from the corrupt state apparatus, the king granted automatically for continuity of allegiance in case of anti-government revolt communicational and machine polished reputation. And with a government “rotten” and “interested”, the king becomes the ideal alternative and personalized hope.

Shiftybox continues to point out that “the upper classes or the Moroccan bourgeoisie has no interest to take action because, acting on simple ‘homo economicus’, these elites are fully satisfied.”

Blogger Big Brother [fr] is vehemently against the protests planned for February 20, 2011:

Au Maroc, la liberté d'expression est bien plus présente qu'en Tunisie par exemple. Si la manifestation était le dernier recours, oui, j'adhérerai à ce groupe.

Sauf que ce n'est pas le cas : On pouvait très bien écrire une lettre ouverte ou des milliers, si ce n'est des millions de jeunes qui signent le document ou on pourrait demander une révision de la constitution, une justice neutre et équitable, des actions tangibles et réelles…

In Morocco, freedom of expression is much more present in Tunisia for example. If the event [the planned protest] was the last resort, then yes, I agree with this group.

Except this is not the case: One could very well instead write an open letter from thousands if not millions of young people signing to request a review of the constitution, a neutral and fair justice , tangible and real actions….

Nobody knows whether the Movement for Dignity will be disregarded or whether it will be the intial step to a mass revolution for change in Morocco. February 20, 2011 is only ten days away.

This post is part of our special coverage Morocco Protests 2011.

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