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Morocco: “I am Moroccan, and I Will Take Part”

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

Since the fall of the Egyptian regime, Moroccans have been planning a movement of their own. Taking place tomorrow, February 20, the “movement for dignity” encapsulates some Moroccans’ frustration with a government that they believe has done little to combat corruption. The protesters are demanding constitutional reform, the dissolution of parliament, and the lowering of food prices, among other things.

In a video circulating the Web, several young Moroccans explain–in both Moroccan darija and local Amazigh dialects–why they'll be joining the protests:

The video has stirred controversy amongst some who see the protesters as shills for the Polisario, a rebel movement for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco.

On the MoroccoBoard News Service (part of the Moroccan-American Association), someone has posted photos that they claim prove the young people in the video are not Moroccan, and are attempting to topple the government. But as Moroccan-American journalist Laila Lalami points out in an article for The Nation, “…Nothing in the February 20 platform or its promotional video suggests that anyone is asking for the toppling of the monarchy; the focus, however, has been on meaningful constitutional reform.”

In response to rumor, the group of young people behind the first video have issued a second, explaining who they are and what they want:

Cairo-based Moroccan blogger Arabist has posted the video on his blog, and writes:

Above is the second video ahead of February 20 protests for constitutional reform, the dissolution of parliament and the formalization of the Amazigh (Berber) language(s) in Morocco. These videos have been attacked as too well produced to be the work of young Moroccans, which tells you a lot about the contempt the regime has for the country's youth. Incidentally, I think it was a mistake to add the second two requests — the last parliamentary election was fairly clean (even if money played a big role) and the question of Amazigh is a) divisive and b) something parliament can vote for. The real problem is the emasculation of parliament by a constitutional framework that gives all power to the palace. But that just my jouj centimes and I wholeheartedly support the protest movement.

Tomorrow's protest will be joined by all sorts of people, but it seems to me two groups will stand out. One is a network of mostly leftist youth that has been involved with all sorts of activism in the last few years and is close to the human rights world and the AMDH specifically. It gravitates around leftist parties such as the PSU and will probably include disaffected members of the USFP, the historic center-left party. The other group will consist largely of Adl wal-Ihsan, the largest Islamist movement in Morocco, which has long advocated constitutional reform. It is legally banned. Also present should be the wing of the legal Islamist party, the PJD, whose leaders have largely been “Makhzenized” but that has a strong figure of resistance in Mustafa Ramid, a member of parliament for Casablanca. And of course there will be tons of ordinary people with no political affiliation.

In preparation for the demonstrations, Moroccans are–like their Tunisian and Egyptian brethren–taking advantage of social media to spread their message. Aside from the videos, a new website called Mamfakinch has just launched to aggregate news on the protests. Mamfakinch also posts updates on Twitter. A Facebook group called “Moroccans for Change” shares photos, videos, and hosts conversations on the planned protests.

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

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