Wednesday Feb 21

Politics in Morocco The Big Bubble in the Desert

What we thought we knew from our great Western bubble was a Morocco as a champion of constitutional democracy (albeit monarchical, like Spain, which still incredibly and unjustifiably preserves the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Moroccan territory) between the countries of MENA, Middle East North Africa.

Then, between September and October this year, I saw with my very eyes, another Morocco. Another world, with the annual Organizer Forum (meeting of various community organizations of and around the world with local active activist realities) we joined with the most precious and courageous movements and activists like Laila Nassimi among others in the midst of the Hirak movement; so the reasons for all this misperception from within our bubble quintessentially lie in an effective, fierce media embargo of what is a subtle sovereign state with no free illuminated king as the few, prominent chronicles have introduced into our big bubble in order to keep it bubbling, keep it from bursting.

In the Moroccan realm, every word of every voice of every minority is suffocated in the violence of blood and the virulence of silence, while the King controls directly or indirectly about 85% of the economy between Chinese boxes, recycling state money and expropriating entire neighborhoods.

Wiretapping is used systematically; journalists such as Omar Radi are trapped at the first false step (the first true piece): they lose the license to be paid for writing at home and they are banned from paying for any foreign title, ceasing to be able to practice the journalistic profession, and this is the other great bubble, the Moroccan, with thick walls like those of the prisons of the Kingdom, which encompass and imprison the whole thought, the whole perception of the country itself and outward; free people such as Adil Labdahi, a Casablanca activist, also engaged in the 20th February Movement (born in the wake of the Arab Spring), who end up in jail in such a clumsy and grotesque manner: when Adil launches on a website a blog with a video that shows a local politician while accepting a bribe, he is quickly arrested... he, Adil! Not the politician or the corruptor, but Adil himself for having exposed them. Immediately sentenced on (unfair) trial to a 3-year jail sentence. Times of justice are far from biblical, for those who have committed anything but crimes. The system of (in)justice in Morocco is a perfect machine. In prison, Adil Labdahi is prevented from seeing his mother and children, as well as not being allowed to speak with his lawyers, at least until we intervene for what was a small breath of air in a choking country, a small victory in one defeated democracy.

Here the last remaining unionists are opposed in all ways by a subtle regime that tackles them in different manners, depending on the person, the situation, the specific convenience to crush the best way: some are imprisoned, some coopted and sent to parliament within puppet parties created ad hoc.

This is the country’s great democratic scandal: most political parties are, well, puppet parties. Fictional parties created ad hoc to give both inside and outside the illusion of a multi-voiced democracy, which is actually just a single vortex, with a single vertex.

Shrill social encouragement signals have emerged since February 20 with an activation of the first unknown social life in the streets, where cultural encounters are now being held and celebrated, things that simply did not occur in the streets of the Kingdom.

Inside the Parliament, where, as I said, the 2/3 of the parties are a joke, some leftist forces even though minorities are doing to some extent, even if they are not officially spokesman for the instances from below of various movements, have taken on the job of voicing the activists’ voices.

With the arrival of the new dictator in 1999, repression became more subversive and shameful: to shield it by giving the regime a wholly apparent tolerance, he began pretending reformism.

It is sadistic, but the perception supported by many and very serious facts is that the sovereign wants to solicit the rights to tickle them and then subtract them, crush them.

The same is with workers’ rights.

And the citizens’ right.

Yes, the other great plain on which the Moroccans began to exist and resist, in addition to that of awareness, is that of citizenship.

In a meeting with Aadel Essaadani, founder of the extraordinary association for the transcultural development of the country and beyond, Racines (bearing the “culture is the solution” slogan, mocking the slogan “Islam is the solution” www.racines.ma), he told us how the challenge is not so much to train better citizens, but... at least to train citizens!

The awareness of citizenship and rights in Morocco is something incredibly new, a tabula rasa, a desert where before there has never been fertile ground, and therefore on which to start from scratch, first making aware citizens to be such and, as such, to have rights that they can and must defend.

According to Aadel, political opposition alone - where the majority of the parties even say it are created in the regime’s lab – is insufficient. Speaking of puppet parties, he cites the case of an old communist party whose leader was fiercely anti-confessional, until the party existed and put own its show, and until, when the show wrapped up, he was free from it and to portray his true vocation: to lead pilgrimages.

To seriously deal with political and civil rights, it is necessary to provide the people with the tools they need to first become aware of and a moment after defending their rights, creating a community of defenders of every single citizen as such and as part of citizenship.

Citizenship, which is difficult to understand for citizens, is paradoxically almost impossible to abandon: in constitutional laws there is no renunciation to the same, and to this day very few people have since the State exists given up in it.

In the midst, constant control and counterfeiting of information through puppet parties and shrewd laws, including loose constitutions on which Moroccans are called to vote by referendum (from the first referendum consultation on December 7, 1962 to 2011, there have been another 10 referendums, almost all on the constantly changing constitution!) that in part, the irony of the fate of the sovereign, for a long time are quite pleonastic, since the Moroccans who go to the polls do not understand what they are doing while they line up, believing they are undergoing to a sort of census, or a medical check, a religious function, or some party.

To date, Moroccans are mostly unaware of the concept of state.

During some general assemblies following February 20, many activists and revolutionaries still showed dramatic problems of basic political vocabulary.

In the meantime, for over forty years, another battle has been engulfed by the King of Morocco: a battle against democracy and against the desert.

The region immediately south of the borders of Morocco, according to the King an integral part of the Moroccan nation, at the sunset of Franco’s regime when the area was a Spanish protectorate, saw the ‘middle’ tactics examined by our reportage unfolding in a peaceful Green March of Citizenship, actually organized and put in place by the Moroccan army (of which in 20,000 accompanied the people across the border) to legitimize Moroccan presence and sovereignty over the territory, which shortly thereafter would be dismembered and parted between Morocco and Mauritania, to the indolence of the international community and the impotence of the Polisario Front (from the Spanish abbreviation of Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra and Río de Oro), born in the meantime with the aim of self-determinationof the Sahrawi people many of whom had since to seek asylum in places like the Hassi Raduni refugee megacamp, in the deserted southwestern Algerian desert where everything is missing, every right of citizenship is denied in situ, where water is also missing.

Countless, unnecessary to say, the political prisoners beaten in the worst case of the worst in prisons including some secretly concealed jails hidden in the gutter, in the middle, like that of Témara, near Rabat.

And hiding in jail, in the big bubble, are even prisoners who are not yet, like Rabbi Houmazen, an activist who sentenced himself to death when he said he was in favor of a Moroccan democratic republic, and that he has since been wanted by the regime to be arrested and tortured once, the last time, in his last jail-in-jail.

In a sense the regime has turned Morocco into is a full prison, a prison in the middle, in a bubble, in the middle of a desert.

But prisons are meant for breaking, just like bubbles are destined to burst.


David Tozzo is head organizer of ACORN Italy in Rome, and the President of his regional branch of the political party, Possible.

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