- HASSAN MASIKY
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Washington / Morocco Board News-- Both the pro-government camp supporting the newly approved constitution and the self-proclaimed anti-establishment group “February 20” movement have been utilizing unsavory methods and less than desirable schemes to get their messages across to the public and the international media. Some Moroccans are concerned with the likely long-term harmful effects of this poisonous debate on the Moroccan society and the potential split of the Moroccan public into two irreconcilable camps.
With the myriad of mean spirited comments hurled by the “Yes” and “No” camps during the run-up to the referendum on the new constitution, an interview by the Algerian newspaper Al-Watan with Zineb El Rhazoui stands out as “nasty” and “malicious”. Most Moroccans probably never heard the name Zineb El Rhazoui before. Well, she is the co-founder of the Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI). The Moroccan public refers to MALI as the group that advocates for the breaking of the fast in public during the holly month of Ramadan.
If MALI’s prior “advocacy campaigns” were more social in nature, Zineb’s involvement in the “February 20” movement has been political and ironically in support of a platform endorsed by conservative religious group such as “Al Adl Wal Ihsan” or the Justice and Spirituality Movement (JSM). In her interview with Al-Watan, Zineb’s statements went beyond a civil criticism of the proposed referendum. Her characterization of the Moroccan system as a “dictatorship” is inflammatory.
Zineb and several of her comrades in the “February 20” movement do not fully understand the ramification of some of their actions. While Zineb has every right to campaign against the proposed constitution and criticize the Moroccan government and regime, she notwithstanding has a responsibility to follow the golden rule of a free speech: respect the rights and sensitivities of others. In fact, young activists, like Zineb, lack of experience, the “February 20” freewheeling mannerism, and the movement’s lack of an open and democratic inner-debate are dangerous and harmful to the future of the “democratic movement” in Morocco.
For some observers, an attack on the likes of Zineb is an endorsement of the status quo and a tactical backing of the current Moroccan system. Far from it, large numbers of Moroccans are appalled with the corruption and nepotism of the regime and are equally dismayed with the amateurism and egocentricity of the “February 20” movement.
The Moroccan system is clearly not a “western democracy”, but it is not a dictatorship either. Even tough the official results of the referendum were widely exaggerated, the Moroccan people overwhelming supported the constitutional reforms proposed by the Moroccan Monarch. Yet, next day thousands of people took to the streets of Rabat, Tangier and other smaller cities protesting that the new constitution did not go far enough to address the demands of the pro-democracy movement. The very existence of this kind of debate is a sign that Morocco is moving toward an open society that will eventually create a more democratic political system.
The current government of Prime Minister Abbas Al-Fassi is unpopular and dysfunctional. The disorganized February 20 movement has failed to gain widespread public support. The Moroccan pubic seems to reject the two major existing political actors currently active on the national scene; and thus sending a clear message that for now, there is no power broker in Morocco but King Mohammed VI..