Over mij

My love for justice, democracy and poetry made me who I am. Follow me on Twitter all about #feb20 #morocco http://twitter.com/#!/mariammaslouhi

woensdag 14 december 2011

Moroccan King congratulates President Marzouki

قال لك أسيدي، خير وسلام، الملك محمد السادس هنأ الرئيس منصف المرزوقي، وأكد رغبة المملكة في دعم التجربة الديمقراطية في تونس . Via Hamza Mahfoud

Apparently the Moroccan King congratulated the new president of Tunisia Moncef Marzouki. He says that his Kingdom will support the democratic experiment in Tunisia. 

It's like Saleh congratulating the people of Egypt with their victory over Mubarak. Weird. 
I know Morocco differs from Tunisia, Egypt ect. I have heard that many times but when I look at what Morocco had in common I see a lot more similarities than differences.

I see that in Morocco all the wealth is in the hands of the elite; family, friends of the King. Just like the Ben Alis, Traboulsis, Mubaraks and Khadaffis.
I see that in Morocco 'outspoken' journalists are accused of being terrorists just like in Egypt. And Human Rights Activists are exceiled just like Marzouki was.
And I see that a child in Gaza gets better education than my niece in Rabat.

I could go on on..but I hope I made my point. 

It is silly for the King to congratulate Merzouki a man who fought almost all his life against a regime like His Majesties.


zaterdag 10 december 2011

Video: Funeral of Mohamed Slimane in his home town Bni Nsar, Nador

Mohamed Slimane was a 21 year old gasoline seller from the city of Nador, north of Morocco. On the 7th of December he set himself on fire as an reaction to the constant harassment of police officers trying to bribe him. They would confiscate his goods if he didn't pay the police officers. Witnesses also said that he was slapped by the police and insulted.

He died Friday 9th of December in the hospital.

There have been Slimanes before him and if there is no change in Morocco more will unfortunately follow.

The 20th February Movement demonstration in Morocco will be in honor of the martyr Mohamed Slimane.

vrijdag 9 december 2011

Gasoline seller dies of his injuries after setting himself on fire.

Mohamed Slimane was a 24 year old gasoline seller from the city of Nador, north of Morocco. On the 7th of December he set himself on fire as an reaction to the constant harassment of police officers trying to bribe him. They would confiscate his goods if he didn't pay the police officers. Witnesses also said that he was slapped by the police and insulted.

He died Friday 9th of December in the hospital.

There have been Slimanes before him and if there is no change in Morocco more will unfortunately follow.

The 20th February Movement demonstration in Morocco will be in honor of the martyr Mohamed Slimane.

Source: Lakome.com

Video: Demonstration in Nador in honor of Slimane.

Video: Graphic video of Mohamed Slimane on the ground..

woensdag 7 december 2011

Reconsidering Morocco's opposition

As expected the Islamist PJD (Party for Justice and Development) won the elections in Morocco on Friday November 25. This was the logical consequence of its opposition against the pro-democracy February 20 movement. With the appointment of Fouad Ali El Himma as a royal advisor of the king, it's important to take a look at how El Himma, the PJD and the February 20 movement shaped each others future.

From clandestinity to recognition

The PJD is very connected to its Secretary General Abdelillah Benkirane. During the seventies Benkirane belonged to an extreme-islamist organisation, the Shabiba Islamiyya. But he soon realised that it would remain marginalised.

Abdelillah Benkirane
After his departure from Shabiba Islamiyya he formed the Islamist Group (Jamaa al-Islamiya). That organisation changed its name in 1992 to Reform and Renewal (Islah wa Tajdid). In that same year he asked the Moroccan authorities to start a political party, but based on his past they rejected this.

In 1996 Abdelillah Benkirane contacted the MPDC (Democratic and Constitutional Popular Movement ) of Abdelkrim Khatib, a conservative party that was pro-monarchy. The MPDC was weak and nearing its end and happilly welcomed Benkirane. But Benkirane had to regroup all Islamic organisations before he could join the MPDC.

In that same year the Islamic Dawa ('Preaching') organisation from the city Fes, the organisation Ashourouk and the Islamic Association of Kser Kébir came onder the leadership of Benkirane. He merged the parties together in the overarching League for an Islamic future (Rabitat al-Moustaqbal al-Islamy).

This movement was to be led by Ahmed Raïssouni who would later change the name to Movement for Unity (or 'Monotheism') and Reform (Harakat at-Tawhid wal-Islah). Eventualy the Movement for Unity and Renewal had more than 200 Islamic organisations and Benkirane was chosen as vice-Secretary General of the MPDC and became this way the right hand man of Khatib.

The reforms of Hassan II

Early in the nineties king Hassan II realised that he had to liberalise the political scene. These so called 'reforms' got the name Alternance (or 'alteration'). The most important pilar of these reforms was the socialist opposition party USFP (Socialist Union of Popular Forces).

With a number of other parties the USFP formed the Koutla al-demouqratiyya (The Democratic Bloc). In 1996 Hassan II announced a new constitution in which his position got strengthened. The Democratic Bloc was forced to call for a 'yes' vote in a referendum about the constitution.

In 1997 parliamentary elections were held where the Democratic Bloc couldn't gain a majority, but Abderrahman Youssoufi, the Secretary General of the USFP eventually become prime minister and the MPDC entered the Moroccan parliament with nine chairs and changed its name in 1998 into PJD.

New king, old reforms

On July 23, 1999 King Hassan II died and his son Mohammed VI claimed the throne. He inherited a country that craved for reforms. The new king tasked Driss Benzekri, a former opposant who belonged to the left and Amazigh movement, to start a reconsiliation commitee called IER (Equity and Reconsiliation). This didn't happen before 2004.

Meanwhile Mohammed VI reformed the family law in favor of women and took the first steps for the recognition of the Berber language (Tamazight). He also lifted the house arrest of Abdeslam Yassine, leader of the islamist movement Justice and Spirituality (Adl Wal Ihsaan), who rejected the monarchy because of the religious authority of the king as 'Commander of the believers' (Amir al Mumineen).

But the reforms of Mohammed VI didn't mean a radical break up with the past and continue on the tempo that was set by his father. In 2002 the PJD surprised everyone in Morocco by winning 42 of the 295 chairs in parliamentary elections.

The PJD made progress and this was clearly a consequence of the discontent over the slow reforms. In 2004 Saad Eddine el-Othmani got elected as party leader, in a way that was unique for an Islamist party. PJD became the first Islamist political party in the Arab world to hold open party elections.

The new Secretary General el-Othmani was the moderate face of the PJD and made the party to commonly accepted in the broader political circles. The USFP on the other hand was descredited because of its participation in the policy. In 2007 the PJD seized another victory by winning 46 chairs in the parliament and became the second largest party in Morocco. As a result the palace decided to take action to stop the rise of the PJD.

Here comes the tractor

Fouad Ali El Himma
On August 10, 2008 Fouad Ali El Himma, a former Interior Minister and close friend of king Mohammed VI, launched PAM (Party of Authenticity and Modernity). PAM incorporated different excisting parties of the Moroccan parliament – something that was juridically illegal. The palace even had to intervene because there was a mass run to the PAM. Entire parties dismantled so they could join the PAM.

PAM's logo is a tractor that represents the party's message and that is to silence every opposition to the palace. The task of the PAM was especially to make life hard for the PJD. The dirty work was executed by Morocco's most controversial politician: Ilias El Omari.

Ilias El Omari: the nightmare of the PJD

PAM was a true nightmare for the PJD. Mostly the second man, Ilias El Omari, a former left and Amazigh activist, had to make shure - in order of the palace – that PJD as an opposition party wouldn't get the chance to grow. It's not surprising that leader Benkirane, saw Ilias El Omari as his number one enemy.

Omari had a lot of contacts within the Amazigh movement and in leftist political parties in the northern region of the Rif where he originated from. This region is known for its long opposition against the palace. In 1999 Omari started the news paper Al Mouwatin. In 2004 he was named as chairman of the IRCAM (Royal Institute for the Amazigh Culture).

In 2005 Omari was appointed as member of the Higher Counsel for Audiovisual Communication. He also becomes president of the footballteam CRA. His first deed as top member of PAM was blackmailing PJD on a local level. With the help of the intelligence services he prevented some members of PJD from becoming mayor.

He also accused the PJD of preparing an attack against his life. PAM accused the PJD of intending to change Morocco into a 'midieval' country. It looked as if the PAM would become the biggest party of Morocco in the parliamentary elections that were planned for 2012. But unexpected circumstances got in the way.

Birth of the February 20th movement

Logo 20th february movement in Morocco
A number of Moroccan youngsters decided to take to the streets on February 20, 2011. With the events in the Arab world (Tunisia, Egypt) this day got a special meaning. It was for the first time in Moroccan history that different political movements gathered in the streets to protest despite their ideological contradictions.

The February 20 movement listed twenty demands that couldn't be discussed and it also targeted the pro-monarchy PAM. The palace wanted to do everything to destroy the February 20 movement with a subtle tactic.

Ilias El Omari and Fouad Ali El Himma quit the party office of PAM because they were held responsible for corruption by the young protesters. The PJD decided to use the February 20 movement to strengthen its position, by expressing its sympathy towards it. However, joining the protests of the February 20 movement would have become a poisoned gift, because it would mean more marginalisation in the political system where the palace defines the rules.

King Mohammed VI announced on March 9, 2011 to prepare a new constitution in an attempt to block the young protest movement. A few months later the new constitution appeared to be not so new. The PJD supported the new constitution and in the proces that proceeded this, it kept pointing a finger at PAM, because PAM was known as a corrupt party. This way the PJD killed two birds with one stone: the PAM and the February 20 movement. On the first of July the new constitution got approved through a referendum and under loud protest of the February 20 movement.

PJD: the new tractor?

A new constitution meant new elections. These were held on Friday November 25. While the participation rate is relevant, it's more interesting to look at the possible consequences for the opposition in Morocco.

The new constitution puts all important powers in hands of the king. The palace continues to define the rules of the game in Morocco. The PJD may have won 107 of the 395 chairs, the question is whether it will get the freedom to apply its program.

In the past months the PJD functioned as a new pro-monarchy party against the political opposition. Question is whether it will become like the USFP, a party that will subscribe itself completely in the system. We'll get the answer sooner than we expect.

Fouad Ali El Himma is still there

The ones chased by the protestmovement seem to have find a way to protect their power. On July 23, 2011, during the Twiza festival in Tangiers, the launch of the Union of North African Peoples (UNAP) was announced. Both the Twiza festival and the UNAP are dedicated to dedicated to the Amazigh culture. El Omari controls the organisation of the festival and he is the treasurer of the UNAP. In the long run these positions could lead to his return in the political scene.

But more relevant today is how we got a preview of the attitude of the PJD towards the power of the palace. On December 7, 2011 the king appointed Fouad Ali El Himma as a royal advisor, despite his links with corruption and the fact that his party PAM lost seats in the recent elections. Prime minister Benkirane described the current place of El Himma as an honorful way of retreating from politics. Probably it's the opposite: it is his honorful comeback. It looks like a new battle against the opposition of the February 20 movement is being prepared.

Author: Mohamed El Khalfioui

Translated by Hasna Ankal, with help of Vince Buyssens and Mariam El Maslouhi

This article was first published on November 29, 2011 on the Belgian newswebsite DeWereldMorgen in Dutch. The article in English has been updated with the news about Fouad Ali El Himma.

woensdag 30 november 2011

Jennifer Lopez to open new mall in Casablanca perform for Moroccan Royal Family

Excellent just what Morocco needs.. A new mall and Jennifer Lopez..

I have but three questions and then I have given this more attention than it deserves:

Q1: How much are they paying her?
Q2: How many Moroccans can you feed with that amount of money?
Q3: Is Benkirane invited?


maandag 28 november 2011

Morocco has, after Egypt, Fajri our very our "Flagman"

Remember the flag man in Egypt? Who climbed God knows how many levels up to take down the Israeli flag and raise the Egyptian one? https://www.facebook.com/welovetheflagman

Well, only two days after the so called democratic elections  in Morocco thousands of people in over 60 cities protested against this masquerade. Also Mohamed el Fajri joined the protests.
Fajri jumped over the parliament fence  to raise the February 20th movement flag. The Parliament, that is suppose to represent the people of Morocco is a symbol of corruption.

He got arrested and quickly afterwards a sit-in was held in front of the same parliament in the capital of Morocco.

Thank you, Mohamed el Fajri, for jumping over a fence we thought was too high to jump over and making clear that the parliament belongs to the people. I know the road to democracy and freedom is a long one. But if Fajri can jump over a huge fence... We can, hand-in-hand, side-by -side, make our beloved Morocco a democratic and free country!

Fajri jumping over fence

Fajri waving the #feb20 flag and getting arrested
Video of sit in held in front of parliament in Rabat

woensdag 23 november 2011

Mijn reactie op 'Eenvandaag': Over koning Hassan VI en democratie

Eenvandaag. Ik kijk het nooit maar toen ik het vandaag keek wist ik ook meteen waarom.  Ik kreeg vanaf de eerste seconden al krommende tenen van de gekozen achtergrond muziek. Eén woord: oriëntalistisch.

Bij 3:15 gingen na mijn krommende tenen mijn oortjes klapperen. ‘Zei ze dat echt?’ Replay replay replay replay. Ja, bij minuut 3:15  zegt de lieve dame ‘en koning Hassan de VI’. Schandalig en moge God ons behoeden voor een “Hassan VI”.

 De toon staat mij tevens niet aan, er wordt gedaan alsof de ‘nieuwe’ constitutie door de mensen is samengesteld en gekozen en dat door deze hervormingen voor het eerst verkiezingen zijn. De constitutie ‘hervormt’ op een wijze die alleen maar voordelen had voor de koning. De ‘hervormingen’ zijn door een adviesorgaan van de koning samengesteld. En 98% heeft zogenaamd ja gestemd, dat is een percentage dat fel doet denken aan een dictatuur waarin stemmen vervalst worden.

Voor het volgende wil ik dat u me alvast vergeeft voor mijn cynisme.

Vervolgens die sprekers. Bravo aan Yuba Zalen! Twee tegen één en hij hakt ze in de pan! En toen kwam Nadia Bouras, deze ‘historica’ werkt in een adviesraad voor de koning.  Als ‘historica’ zou ze moeten weten hoe is afgelopen met veel koningen en ze kleineert, nee beledigt, nee spuugt in de gezichten van alle Marokkanen door te zeggen dat ze niet klaar zijn voor democratie.

Elk volk heeft recht op democratie al hebben ze allemaal een IQ van een vis. Als ‘historica’ gaat ze schaamteloos verder door te zeggen dat de 20 februari beweging geen structuur heeft en geen ‘leiderschap’. Beter geen structuur dan een corrupte structuur madame. De 20 februari beweging in Marokko is een beweging met jongeren die zich vrijwillig inzetten voor een nobele zaak. Een democratisch Marokko. Dit zijn jongeren die geen baan hebben, studeren en van de weinig middelen die ze hebben toch duizenden en duizenden mensen elke zondag de straat op krijgen.

De volgens Nadia ongeorganiseerde bende geven voorlichting, houden persconferenties en riskeren niet alleen hun eigen leven maar ook dat van hun familie.  Zij zijn in Marokko de enige die het volk representeren, van hippies tot streng gelovige.
Marokko gestopt met bedelen begonnen met eisen.

Ik zou mijn betoog ook kort kunnen houden door de vraag: ’Wie ben jij om te bepalen wanneer een volk wel of niet klaar is voor democratie?’. Elke zondag willen Marokkanen geen democratie, maar eisen dat.
Als ‘historica’ maakt zij wat historisch mee, namelijk een zielige koning. De eerste in de geschiedenis. Want  volgens haar neemt die arme man alle taken van het parlement op zich.  Dat is niet zijn taak. Dat is de taak van een gekozen parlement. En dat hebben we niet in Marokko. In Marokko is er sprake van een parlement dat is gekozen door de koning. Enkel partijen die de macht van de koning niet zullen schaden, mogen van de koning 'regeren'.

Ze zegt dat het politiek systeem het luie gedrag van de ministers rechtvaardigt, dat is een politiek systeem dat uit de constitutie komt.  Een constitutie waar de koning regeert. Can you blame them? Als iemand anders toch alles bepaalt zou ik ook uit mijn neus eten.

Paolo de Mas. Ah Paolo. Marokko het land met de meeste persvrijheid. ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, where to start’. Toen ik in mei in Marokko was had ik het met een paar leden van de 20 februari beweging over een vergadering van de beweging in een taxi. Toen de taxi chauffeur alleen 20 februari hoorde verzocht hij ons om of over iets anders te hebben of uit zijn taxi te stappen.

Er is geen onafhankelijke krant of tijdschrift in Marokko en de journalist Benchamsi, oprichter van de kritische TelQuel leeft in ballingschap. Rachid Nini een journalist die veel over de corruptie in Marokko schrijft zit nog steeds in de gevangenis.  De rapper ‘Haked’ is een 20 februari activist. En ja Paolo, die zit ook vast. Dit zijn maar drie voorbeelden die veel aandacht hebben gekregen. Tijdens de referendum heeft in 2 weken tijd de 20 februari beweging 10 minuten uitzendtijd gekregen.  En hij zei huwelijksmarkt. Wat?!
Ik wil dit betoog eindigen door Yuba Zalen te quoten: “We horen in een democratie niet afhankelijk te zijn van één persoon”.  En daarmee is alles wel gezegd. PUNT.

Mariam El Maslouhi
20 februari beweging.

woensdag 21 september 2011

Sit in violently broken up in Al Hoceima, Morocco

Source: February 20th Movement in Al Hoceima

A sit in held by unemployed youngster in the big city north of Morocco, Al Hoceima. The sit in escalated while the young activists held a sit in in front of the Regional Prosecutors office. They held a sit in in protest of the lacking equality of education in the region, or sometimes none at all.

On the video one can see the police forces breaking up the group of people.


maandag 12 september 2011

Interview (English) with one of the leading figures of February 20th Movement.

Translated from French by:
Mariam EL Maslouhi

Rabat -  One of the Founding members of the Movement February 20th Osama El Khlifi was one of  the first to call for demonstrations for political and social reforms in Morocco. While demonstrations were again held on Sunday 11th September across the country. He reviews six months of activism, and announces that he will not participate in parliamentary elections scheduled in November 2011, despite proposals from political parties. 

The Movement was born on February 20th, now a little over six months ago. 
What did the movement accomplish since then?

Osama El Khlifi: We have accomplished many positive things. Politicians woke up in Morocco. A new constitution was adopted. Although we believe that the Constitution was not adopted democratically, one must admit that this change took place due to the  February 20 movement.
There was also some progress on the social plan: the rise in salaries, more unemployed graduates have obtained a job.

Ousama El Khlifi in Rabat at one of the feb20 protests
But although some progress has been made, they do not actually reflect the basic demands of the Movement which are:

 - a true constitutional monarchy with a king who reigns but does not govern,
 - the fight against corruption,
 - the release of all political prisoners,
 - a true marital status,
 - freedom of expression,
 - individual freedoms. 

Even if the regime did not respond to the demands of the movement, and even though we made some mistakes, the results are positive.

What mistakes do you think the movement made? We have contacted the wrong people. We went out every Sunday on the street. If you go out into the street every Sunday, you have no time to talk with people. Plus people can not show up every Sunday. The number of protesters has dropped.

We have also allowed political parties to join the commissions of the Movement. We know that the Moroccans do not trust political parties. The Moroccans have had negative experiences with political parties. The people loved the movement because it is young and independent. After the integration of political parties, there was a decline in the number of demonstrators.

How do you see the future of the Movement? We will continue to go out into the street because the street is a strategic choice of the Movement. Because this way you can put pressure on the regime to get an answer to our demands. 

The Movement remained open to everyone. So, any newcomer has as much to say as you, a founding member, at general meetings. Do you need to refocus the movement around its founding members?
We are Democrats. If we had a leader who managed everything, it would be a bureaucracy. This "openness" is both positive and negative. It is positive because it's a way of showing that we want a real democracy in Morocco.

But it is also negative because people of different political parties joined to proclaim their own demands (propaganda). We trusted them too much. That was our mistake. 

What are you going to change? You can not recreate the core of the Movement and I am against this. But we will push at general meetings to put the movement back on track.

The presence of many Islamist militants of the association Al Adl Wal Ihsan (Justice and Charity) seems to be a problem ...Although I am leftist, I have no problem with the Islamists. As a democrat, I can not attack them. But the way they work has created problems for the February 20th Movement. They are not clear.
When we speak of parliamentary monarchy, they talk about things that have nothing to do with our demands: the Caliphate, for example.
I met the leaders of Al Adl Wal Ihsan before the February 20th. But we had agreed on the fact that they would support the Movement and that they would participate in the events and agree with the demands of the Movement.In addition, they are not for individual freedoms, equality between men and women. It bothers me that men and women do not protest side by side. We will address this problem in the upcoming general meetings.

"The absence of ideology is our strength" 

Do you think the Movement can last without ideology? This lack of ideology is our strength. We are a mix of leftists, liberals, Islamists.This is not a weakness.

Some of your comrades in the Movement have recently issued a statement that criticized your output in the media..This press release doesn't bother me. In the statement it says I am not the spokesman of the Movement. I never said I was the spokesman of the Movement.
I am one the founders of the Movement, I am the first to have called for demonstrations, but I am not the leader of the Movement, nor the spokesman. 

Is there any tensions with your comrades in the Movement?
Yes, there is but I am human and I make mistakes. My comrades have the right to criticize me. Although sometimes they exaggerate a bit. This is normal in politics.You can not work without making mistakes.
Sometimes some of my statements were taken out of context. I am a figure of the movement so the press focuses on me. I'm only 24 years and I do not have much political experience so I am still learning. 

Ousama El Khlifi hospitalized after being attacked by police
You have been through a lot these couple of months. You have been attacked by the police several times and you were hospitalized. Is this not a high price you have to pay?No. When we first called for protests, I knew it was risky, I could be arrested or even killed. I do not mind.

This summer, rumors have circulated regarding your participation in parliamentary elections in November 2011. Will you run for office? The USFP asked me to introduce myself as the top. Other parts of the system too. I decided, after discussing this with my friends in the Movement, that I won't participate.
Because in the preparation of these elections, we see that the elections are not fair and corruption will still occur, there is no renewal of policy.
Before February 20, during my first interview, I said I was going to be an activist of the Movement February 20th. I want nothing else. I do not want to be a leader. I just want to defend the Movement. When the regime will respond, I will leave the political arena.

vrijdag 9 september 2011

The Gulf Cooperation Council will discuss the accession of Morocco

While the February 20th protest movement is getting ready for big protest on Sunday (11th September) on the same day the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council will discuss the accession of Jordan and Morocco. 
On Sunday the ministers of foreign affairs  of the six member states (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar) will gather to look for ways to 'strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the Gulf states, Jordan and Morocco. 
Also the foreign ministers of Jordan and Morocco are invited to come to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The Gulf states are looking for ways to minimize the spreading of the Arab Spring and are trying to do this to include the two oil-less Kingdoms. There is a growing unrest in Jordan and Morocco and it is just a matter of time until the situations there escalate. The Gulf States are looking for ways to suppress the protests and keep them as close allies. An example of this suppression is Bahrain, Saudi Arabia send troops to Bahrain to help and suppress the protesters and helped the ruling monarch to keep in his control.  

dinsdag 6 september 2011

Big protest scheduled by 20 February movement on September 11th in Morocco

Movement of 20 February  has called for demonstrations on Sunday, September 11tn in Rabat, the capital of the kingdom, during a press conference.

"We are calling for a protest on Sunday September 11th in the neighborhood of Yacoub El Mansour in Rabat to mark our come back the to social and political arena," said Omar Radi, the section of Rabat.

"We are determined to establish a real dialogue with the people in neighborhoods, unions and universities, not only in Rabat but in all of Morocco" he added.

 Omar Radi also said that "peaceful demonstrations are likely to be planned in other cities in Morocco to support the manifestation in Rabat.Another official of the 20 February movement section in Rabat said during the press conference that the manifestation is "independent and open to all political parties, as long as they do not call for violence."

Born in the wake of the Arab revolt, the movement includes the group Islamist "Justice and Charity" (Al Adl w Ihsaan), a political party in Morocco that is illegal but tolerated, the "cyber-activists" independent and far-left activists 

Despite a relative economic growth, Morocco faces serious problems such as unemployment, illiteracy, corruption, and great social inequalities.

Video announcing the manifestation September 11th
From the Mamfakinch website

Source: Lakome.com