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Morocco: In Marrakech, Destruction Amidst Peaceful Protest

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

Across Morocco, peaceful protests have emerged today, with thousands taking to the streets from Tangier to Fes. In the southern city of Marrakech, however, reports that the protests have turned into chaos emerged this afternoon, with claims of vandalism and attempts by protesters to storm police headquarters.

A video of somewhat shaky quality claims to show protesters storming the city's police station earlier today:

On Twitter, Aatif Zouadi (@Zaotheflasher) expresses shame for what has happened in Marrakech:

manifestants de merde à marrakech c'est vraiment honteux ce qu'ils ont fait #20 #fevrier

Shitty protesters in Marrakesh – it's a shame what they did #20 #fevrier

Image from @NajlaeBB

According to @moun7arifa, the protesters and the thugs are separate parties:

@jilliancyork @Hisham_G @afrinomad some thugs vandalized while le march was heading towards Jamaa Lfna

(Author note: Jamaa Lfna or Djemaa Al Fna is the main square of Marrakech)

Nevertheless, the destruction is real. As @Feryate tweeted:

هاجم المتظاهرون مقر ولاية مراكش، وأغرقوها بسيل من الحجارة ، كما تم تبادل الرمي بالحجارة بينهم وبين القوات المساعدة ورجال الأمن #20feb
The protesters attacked the headquarters of Marrakech's governorate and drowned it with stones. They also exchanged throwing stones with the supporting forces and the security forces

Assia Hankoussi (@soulisou) writes on the extent of the destruction in Marrakech:

URGENT : Bd Mohamed 5 et Guélliz detruit à marrakech !!! café , mc do , zara, café charlot … tout est détruit !

URGENT: Boulevard Mohammed 5 and Gueliz in Marrakech have been destroyed! Cafe, McDonald's, Zara, and Cafe Charlot, all destroyed!

Soukaïna Rafi (@SoukainiRafi) shares a photo, saying:

Putain c'est le bordel à Marrakech. http://bit.ly/iahnff #feb20

Damn, it's a mess in Marrakech.

But @Hisham_G tempers the comments, saying:

Ongoing clashes btween police and a handful of what my contacts in Marrakech called “thugs unrelated to marchers. Minor incidents” #feb20

On the blog Sud34.com, which covers southern Morocco, videos have been posted showing demonstrations in Marrakech. One shows the protests as peaceful, indicating that the destruction was likely caused by thugs who were not amidst the main protests:

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

18 comments

  • Sunflower

    Friends in Marrakech say that McDonald’s etc have not been “destroyed,” as one of your commenters has stated. Vandalized, yes; destroyed, no, which implies the leveling of a building, something more than the throwing of rocks could do. Also I find it interesting that the McDonald’s was attacked; it is hugely popular with young Marrakchis and is popularly said to be owned by the King.

  • cona

    i rent hotel room in marrakesh in center of djemma. during the day it was normal to walk around markets, still lots of stores were closed. in the evening, it wasn’t so peacefull anymore. there was robbers around the place and locals gathered to protect their belongings. quite scary view, groups of people with bats. one of them got into our hotel lobby and if police wouldn’t got in, he would be mashed by hotel personal. everything seems very quiet now, for sure the most quite morning in my 3 weeks here. lets see if I can get some breakfast :)

    • ilana

      @cona–Thank you for your perspective on the ground in Marrakech. Please keep the updates coming. What’s the mood in the medina, in Guéliz?

  • […] notably Casablanca, Fes, Rabat, and Tangier–and were largely peaceful, save for some destruction of property in Marrakech and Larache, two cities with a strong sense of economic […]

  • Since 1960 I have been in love with Morocco. As an American I have not experienced the same Morocco others may have lived but I have seen
    the country through many of it’s changes. I understand how the youth can feel
    they need to modernise quickly.They are more educated and did not see Morocco as it was only 50 years ago. Being in my 60s I have also witnessed the great changes that have been made since Hassan II and Mohamed VI have ruled the country. The land progressed from seeming to be 2000 yrs behind the times to a Morocco that has almost caught up with Spain (which was also behind the times until recently). The Government in Morocco as in all other countries may not be perfect and we all want changes, but I see much progress made with Morocco’s current ruler. Perhaps the youth could work with Mohamed VI to make Morocco a better place and His Royal Highness
    could work with his youth to modernise in a good way. Morocco is the best of all the Arab nations….What a wonderful country it is…I hope that it can change peacefully keeping it’s monarch who has kept stability intact all these years.
    This is not to say i do not encourage nor support the youth and their needs for changes, but to say that I think their King is on the right track attempting to form a democratic nation. Women have gained rights, literacy is up,the middle class is growing. Unlike the West everybody eats it Morocco. By destroying the Government I think things would not get better but worse for Moroccans and the recent progress made would be lost. In any event, I look forward to my return to their wonderful country. Cherie Nutting

    • Christie

      I’m hoping to go to Morocco soon. My boyfriend is there and I worry about him. I hope he doesn’t get caught in any violence and I hope all of this is resolved peacefully.

    • joan mckniff

      It is a joy to read your remarks. I feel as if I’ve been a friend of a friend of yours for decades.

  • Mokhtar Abouissaba

    The movement of 20 February is responsible for what happened in Marrakech.Banks gas stations and commerces were attacked;vandalized without any reason.The organizers kept warning the governement and to retain the police from any interference;but they failed to control the protesters.Many have claimed that these acts were carried out by a certain number of thugs that has nothing to do with the demonstrators.Can you simply explain to me why we didn’t have such events before.If you tell me that the organizers can’t control all the demonstrators.Then why did these people condemn RACHID as a traitor when he used the same argument to ask for cancelling the protest.

  • Ghita EL Harrak

    I would say that the people who protested in Morocco are a bunch of thugs, Morocco may not be perfect the king may be not perfect but he is the best we have I would rather the king held all the power than some thug who can be bribed to sell our country down the sewer, I have seen a lot of improvement and I believe it will only get better.

    What I would love to see is better schools, better health care, more jobs.

    Please I beg the people of Morocco stop the protests there is evil behind the protests, protect our country and our king, be proud of what we have built and how far we have come.

    • Mohamed

      The evil behind the protest is called Poverty, hunger, economic disparity…etc
      take your pick

      • Manus MacManus

        This regime has been in power since 1631 it is really rich to absolve them from any responsibility. The Magna Carta was signed in 1215 and was the most direct challenges to the monarch’s authority at the time. I do not think that the Brits were more educated, richer or more affluent than Moroccans today. Yet they chose to break free from serfdom and have a sovereign parliament that was a reflection of the will of the people, Is that too much to aspire for nearly 9 centuries after they were able to achieve it?

  • Manus MacManus

    I think you guys should read the Moroccan constitution and understand it. The king both holds the economical and power monopoly. The Palace literally owns the country and according to every international pundit in the world the Moroccan Monarchy is the most corrupt institution in the country. No investor can invest in the country without his majesty’s commission. I think a reality check is due as you do not seem informed you do not seem perturbed to be living in an autocratic cleptocracy. It is really sad to see young people so brain washed into believing that without an absolute monarchy Morocco will disintegrate. This is the rhetoric of true demagogues and those who benefit from the status quo. This is an issue of governance and nobody in Morocco should accept that all powers are solely concentrated in the hand of one individual. Morocco has to join modern times and change this feudal antiquated system. Yes to a constitutional Monarchy but NO to Dictatorship. Morocco needs a government for the people and from the people not an individual that converted the country to ONA PLC. Moroccans are eventually going to have enough and will pay the price for Democracy if this system is not rehabilitated. I hope the regime will adapt and learn from other Democratic experiences and peacefully transit into a parliamentary democracy where the king is the symbolic head of state of the nation not a “Samsar”. There is still time to change the system where the Monarchy will have a future in Morocco.
    If they do not stop being so belligerent and arrogant they will suffer the same fate of many royal dynasties before them and then will see the birth of the Moroccan REPUBLIC. Oops have I said republic?

  • Abdurrahman

    From Marrakesh: Zara and McDonald’s had some big plate glass windows broken by rocks as did some smaller expensive boutiques on the Hassan II side of the fancy mall called Marrakesh Place. Both Zara and McDonald’s were working on Monday with people sitting outside eating and large protective panels on Zara’s big windows.
    This was hooliganism pure and simple. We saw it after a football match a few months back, too. It had nothing to do with the aims of the protest which was mostly peaceful. Since people knew the police were going to take it very easy with the protesters, vandals took that as a time do high adrenalin stuff.

  • Manus MacManus

    @Abdurrahman

    The regime will stoop to any level to discredit the legitimate protests of the Moroccan people and label them as vandals, collaborators, agent of foreign regimes, terrorist, etc…..
    They will not succeed and Morocco will become a free Nation, a Democratic Nation that controls its destiny. Long live free Morocco.

  • Manus MacManus

    @Ghita EL Harrak

    He is the best to do what? Lets put that to a referendum as I never remember voting for him

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