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Protests mount in Morocco

By Naoufel Cherkaoui and Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 26/04/11

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Moroccans took to the streets nationwide on Sunday (April 24th) for the third major protest organised by the February 20th Youth Movement.

Marches in Rabat, Tangier, Marrakech, Tetouan, Oujda, Laâyoune and other Moroccan towns drew at least 27,000 people. Some reports put the tally at 50,000.

The rallies were held because the youth movement's demands "have not been met in full", Rabat protest organiser Najib Chaouki said.

"The state is meeting these demands bit by bit, and we consider that to be an attempt from the state to bypass the will of the youth movement," he said.

People turned out chanting anti-corruption slogans and calling for the removal of influential figures who allegedly amassed undue wealth while in government service.

"The royal speech of March 9th addressed only a part of our demands," Chaouki added. "Therefore, we will continue to protest peacefully as we did today until all of our demands, which we've been making since the beginning of our movement, have been met."

Those demands included economic, social and political reforms. Specifically, protestors asked for an independent judiciary, an end to the counter-terror law, the release of political prisoners and a democratic constitution.

In the capital, organisers chose to march through one of the poorest neighbourhoods to draw attention to suffering in the country.

"Today's march is confirmation that the movement expresses its link with the people in popular neighbourhoods that are facing a group of economic and social problems," said Kamal Leghmam, a member of the February 20th Youth Movement.

"Experience has shown that we should not be afraid of these neighbourhoods because people are aware of the importance of peaceful demands for their rights," Amina El Ghalbi said.

In her turn, Rim Ben Brahim, another member of the youth movement, told Magharebia that "the government has not responded to our demands. Therefore, we will continue our struggle until our demands have been met in full."

"I hope that this mobility will be translated into a deep political reform and democratic constitution," said Mustafa Ramid, a member of the General Secretariat of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), who also took part in the Casablanca rally.

Many citizens have been disappointed by the recent reforms offered by Morocco. Abdelhamid Amine, Vice President of the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, noted that the calls for change go beyond just constitutional amendments. "So far, the answers are inadequate," Amine said.

"We want a new Morocco," student Hamid Brahmi said. "We have doubts about the willingness to completely change the constitution. We are concerned that these signals are just attempts to temporarily calm the situation."

Also among the demands of protestors was the closure of the Temara prison. Recently disclosed documents alleged torture occurred at the detention centre. But when the interior minister was questioned on the matter, he denied any illegal activity occurred there.

"All detention centres in Morocco are governed by Moroccan laws which prohibit the kidnapping, sequestration and torture. Each victim has the right to complain to the concerned authorities," Taieb Cherkaoui said on April 20th.

Comic artist Ahmed Snoussi, also known as "Bziz", said that he supported "the struggle of people to win their freedom and dignity".

"The long-awaited tidings of the spring of democracy will come, no doubt about that," he said.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    تصاعد الاحتجاجات في المغرب 2012-10-18

    Exalted be God! Anyone who opposes protests and demonstrations in Morocco is a traitor to the people, a supporter of corruption and of looting funds and resources of the people. For how long are we going to keep silent even if we live in extreme poverty except a small category, known to everyone, that doesn't stop except by force because the right is taken forcefully not peacefully as it is taken in an illegitimate way. Those who warn or threaten the Movement of February 20, are assigned to this against huge sums of money. If people seek life one day, the fate should respond. Night will end and the chain will be broken. Don’t be afraid activists. Death comes one time only. As for insult and living in humiliation and subjugation, they will disappear only with struggle and resistance. So go ahead! So many oppressive dictatorships have fallen thanks to the will of the people and their revolutions.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    salma 2011-6-20

    To Acharif Moulay Abdellah Bouskraoui- Sir, what horror stories have you read? The Polisario is an Algerian secret service and intelligence services!? Pardon me, but your name or penname is already an agenda in itself! Sir, protesting for democracy is an act of civility and democratic conscience. Where is wrong in citizens protesting and turning to their king to have more rights? You need a full-immersion course in the right to protest!


  3. Anonymous thumb

    Acharif Moulay Abdellah BOUSKRAOUI 2011-5-6

    A word to the Moroccan people. the matter is serious and concerns you. Praise be to God. Peace and blessings be upon our master the messenger of God, his family and companions. O great people, the funding of the Algerian intelligence for the faction of the leftist nihilists and obscurantists to fund protests in Morocco and those speaking in their name under the cover of youth February 20 Movement has reached 25,000,000 in order to undermine the constitutional reforms as they represent a fatal blow to the the Polisario. In addition, the success of reforms will certainly lead to strengthening the negotiating power of Morocco and its international position. The Algerian intelligence has used all its weight to stir protests in Morocco relying on factions which have always been ready to sell their honour and betray the nations. These factions have been attempting with all their means to push Morocco to the abyss so that they can get the generous promises offered by their masters. However, enemies of the nation should know that Morocco, including its king, people, elite, parties, old and young people, are standing steadily against all conspiracies. We will continue reforms with confidence and steadiness in total unity between the king and the people in order to boost the future of the nations. We will remain faithful to the covenant we have made to ourselves in sacrificing the soul and everything dear to lift the flag of the nation under the supreme leadership of the commander of the believers, our first leader his majesty king Mohammed VI in a permanent allegiance with our eternal slogan: God-the nation-the king. O great people, you are all called today to join efforts behind the king of the country and resist the enemies of the nations including the leftist nihilists and obscurantists who seek to sow strife in this safe country with the support and provocation of external forces, on top of them the Algerian intelligence. These destructive forces have mobilised a group of their youth alleging they are spokesmen of young people of February 20 Movement, using them as their spokesmen to deceive young people and public opinion. O great people, I call upon you to show wisdom, sobriety and perspicacity far from personal interests to ensure the success of this challenge and huge constitutional reforms which were hailed by everyone. May God help you, assist you and crown your action with success. Peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you. Acharif Moulay Abdellah Bouskraoui.


  4. Anonymous thumb

    you 2011-5-1

    Salam alikum. Al Qaeda has no interest currently in attacking any Arab territory because current revolutions are in its interests. Therefore, Al Qaeda is watching now regimes and governments collapsing one after the other. This is because Ben Laden had been calling for toppling these governments collaborating with the big satanic regimes. Therefore, Al Qaeda has found who would represent it indirectly in toppling world dictatorship. Therefore, the possibility that it is the mastermind of the operation is quasi wrong. The second supposition is Algeria. I say that this sister has always been and is still floundering with its security problems. There is the Salvation Front (FIS) on the one hand and the popular movement on the other hand. Moreover, there is the war in Libya, involvement of its mercenaries there and its direct border with Libya. With all these issues, we cannot say that Algeria is the perpetrator. Morocco has discharged it after saying that Al Qaeda is responsible for the act. However, what we have said about Al Qaeda means that the perpetrator is not Al Qaeda, not its sympathizers, not Algeria and not its mercenaries. Therefore, the perpetrator is a hostile side which is not happy with the current progress in Morocco. In order to get closer to the perpetrator, we will focus on the following: 1- The attack came before May 1st so that this day would pass by without any movements, protests, imposing and forcing the government to give more freedoms. Therefore, the perpetrator is against the people. 2- the attack came after the release of some sheikhs and Youths of Salafi movement, opinion prisoners so that it would be thought that they are taking revenge, that the act of the king to pardon them was wrong. Therefore, the perpetrator is against the decisions of the king. 3- the attack came in a period when Morocco witnessed a big progress in the tourism sector. It has achieved this world-famous position thanks to its tourist popular destination. Therefore, the perpetrator is against Morocco as a civilized example. The result is that the perpetrator is against the people who chose the uprising, took to the streets to voice their requests, against the king who was keen on answering these requests from the very beginning, against Morocco and its positive progress. With all these characteristics, it can be deduced that the perpetrator who smells of its corruption and its people are well-known for everyone who sees and who can’t see to understand or not understand. Salam.


  5. Anonymous thumb

    Ussef 2011-4-27

    Really? In my experience the protests are winding down and the "youth" movement as you describe it should get a grip and "grow up" or it will be marginalized for being uncompromising and radicals.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    ابوا خلدون 2011-4-27

    We are aspiring to a democratic and peaceful Morocco offering equal opportunities to the strong and weak, rich and poor. We want a Morocco respecting dignity, principles and decent life.