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.