- HASSAN MASIKY
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Washington / Morocco Board News--The deteriorating security situations in Tunisia and Egypt should serve as cautionary tales for the pro-democracy “February 20th Movement “in Morocco. This movement has been front and center in the large popular pro-democracy marches that Moroccan cities continue to witness.
Major national and international news outlets continue to refer to the “Feb. 20th Movement “as the leader of the social and political organizations spearheading the calls for reforms in Morocco.
Recognized as the “Feb. 20th Movement” may be, several basic and crucial questions regarding the leadership, political agenda and the demands of this organizations remain ambiguous and sometimes unknown to the Moroccan public. In fact the key question of whether the” Feb. 20th Movement “speaks on behalf of the Moroccan public is still open for debate. As much as some Moroccan websites, such as Mamfakinch, portray the Movement as a true representative of the Moroccan pro-democracy movement, the reality is far from being that simple. In fact, no one can give a clear answer to who represents the Movement and what are its demands -different form the Movement slogans- ?
Going back to the first march organized by the “Feb. 20th Movement “, the Facebook group that called for the rallies of Feb. 20th, was obscure until the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) decided to offer its office to the Movement and thus giving the youth movement legitimacy. Is the AMDH with its far-left agenda behind the “Feb. 20th Movement “? If it is the case; then the “Feb. 20th Movement “should be categorized as a left wing group with a socialist agenda. The AMDH, a non-governmental organization, has been flirting with partisan positions on several key political hot issues currently debated in Morocco casting serious doubt about the organization's “well respected” independence.
If AMDH legitimized the “Feb. 20th Movement “, it was the banned Islamic movement Adl Wal Ihssane (Justice and Charity) that boosted the popularity of the Movement. The presence of militants of the Adl Wal Ihssane have been noticeably heavy during recent marches called by the “Feb. 20th Movement “. Would such active participation by a group like Adl Wal Ihssane means the Movement is controlled by an Islamist organization?
The strong presence of such ideologically different groups within the “Feb. 20th Movement” is a worrisome sign. Some Moroccans view the attendance of AMDH left wing militants beside Muslim conservative activists as a sign of the inclusiveness of the “Feb. 20th Movement “. Others ,however, regard this strange bed follows within the Movement as a sign of a youth movement used by bigger players to advance specific agendas. Clearly, it will be hard for the “Feb. 20th Movement “to take a stand on the issue of the role of religion in a future Moroccan constitution; is it the AMDH secular stand or Adl Wal Ihssane conservative religious platform?
The “Feb. 20th Movement” has slogans rather than demands. As the post-Benali Tunisian democratic movement struggles to formulate a unified and democratic platform to be presented to the current interim government, the Moroccan pro-democracy movement should understand the political, religious and security implications of its actions and slogans.
The confusing and contradicting slogans of the “Feb. 20th Movement” are a sign of an undisciplined movement that do not truly understand and appreciate the potential harm such wave of discontent can generate. While, the Movement is, without a doubt, a popular vehicle for angry Moroccans hungry for democratic reform to channel their frustrations, it is not representative of all Moroccans.
Demands for an end to injustice, nepotism, unfairness and economic exploitation by the Moroccan political and economic elites are legitimate and fair calls for reforms. The “Feb. 20th Movement”
has adopted these “demands” as the motto for their organization, however, as the group continues to grow, other less settling demands have been creeping up making the position of Movement as a “spokes-organization” of all Moroccan much in doubt.
Constitutional reforms in Morocco are necessary. It may take time for the modifications to be formulated; however, the Moroccan elite must embark on series of changes to address the demands of the public. The Moroccan authorities do not need a constitutional amendment to reform the judiciary or improve the educational system. A delay or a negligence in making quick and significant political and economical changes as demanded by the Moroccan public will give a dysfunctional group like the “Feb. 20th Movement” the upper hand.