Saturday, July 23, 2011

Morocco In the News: July 18 - 23

Daylight saving ends in Morocco on July 31
Morocco's clocks will be wound back one hour on Sunday, July 31, as daylight saving ended in the country.
The change officially takes effect at 00:00, when the time will become 23:00, Morocco's Public Sector Modernization Ministry said in a statement.
An American Scientific caravan travels in Morocco
As part of its initiative in science and technology for Moroccan youth, the Embassy of the United States launched a scientific caravan, led by U.S. experts from California and Hawaii to share their experiences with young Moroccans.
The caravan was organized in a scientific partnership with the American NGO "Grove of Hope" including the president and founder Kamal Oudrhiri, a scientist working at the Moroccan NASA and with Moroccan partners  who include: SOS Children's Village Morocco (Casablanca, Ait Ourir, Al Jadida), Entraide Nationale (Oualidiya, Rabat, Fnideq), Moroccan-American Culture Link (Beni Mellal) and the Association of Parents of High School Daoud (Tetouan) and of course, Peace Corps.
Moroccan professors affiliated with the Association of Teachers of life science and earth, the Association of Professors of physics / chemistry and volunteers of the American Peace Corps also participate in all events of the caravan. Young recipients of the award "Morocco Youth Space Camp Scholarship" in 2010 are also present to share their experiences. In addition, the 2011 edition of "Space Camp Scholarship Morocco"  is taking place at the moment with two teachers and twelve young Moroccan "U.S. Space and Rocket Center" in Huntsville, Alabama, USA.
After its launch on July 2 in Dar Bouazza, Casablanca, the caravan visited Ait Ourir, Beni Mellal, El Jadida and Oualidiya. The caravan continued to Rabat, then it will be in Tetouan and Fnideq and will end July 15 after visiting eight cities in Morocco and inspiring the enthusiasm for science in the hearts of young Moroccans 1000.
For more information on this program, please contact the Public Affairs Section, Embassy of the United States, in 0537-66-80-45.
Morocco and USA sign agreement to assist child protection centres
Rabat - Morocco's ministry of youth and sports and the embassy of the United States in Morocco signed, on Tuesday in Rabat, a partnership agreement to finance a project aimed at assisting child protection centres.
    The agreement is part of a cooperation programme between Morocco and the United States to reinforce justice for minors and support the Kingdom's reforms in the field.

    Under the accord, a sum of one million dollars will be earmarked to finance a project aimed at improving child protection centres currently run by the ministry.

    It also aims at providing training for the centers' staff, broadening the scope of services for the youth in these centres and improving their re-adaptation.
Interesting talk on Moroccan Spring

Rebecca Timson
I thought at first that I might write about donkeys in Morocco because I see them everywhere, so I did a little research to deepen my understanding--and I quickly learned that Susan Orlean already wrote that story for Smithsonian Magazine (September 2009). She wrote about donkeys carrying the same loads I've seen on their backs:
men, women and children; televisions and mattresses; lumber for construction; food for the shops and restaurants in the medina; silky fabrics; piles of fragrant mint; garbage for removal to some mysterious dumping ground.
Like me, she probably saw them pulling wooden plows through rocky fields in the Middle Atlas Mountains and carts full of chickens and watermelons in the narrow winding lanes of the medina in Fes. She wrote about the wealthy American Amy Bend Bishop, who was so concerned about the condition of the 40,000 donkeys and mules working in Fes that in 1927 she established American Fondouk --a free veterinary service which was pointed out to us during our tour of the city. She also wrote a great bit about a weekly donkey market which has declined in recent years, not because fewer donkeys are being traded but because it's easier to evade taxes on such transactions if you do your business outside of the souks.

At Volubilis, on the floor of an ancient Roman house, there is a well-preserved mosaic of an athlete carrying a trophy while riding backwards on a donkey. Scholars explain this in different ways: (1) The athlete is arrogant about an easy victory, and mocks the conventions of the celebratory procession. (2) He is humble in receiving his accolades while seated on a donkey, and doesn't presume to face those who celebrate him. (3) He is performing an acrobatic feat, and might even be a sort of sacred clown impersonating an athlete.

I have little interest in or talent for discovering the absolutely correct interpretation of phenomena, but I am fascinated by the connections between perspective and personal or social history. And it turns out that there's a lot of history about riding donkeys backwards. You know you want to know about this. Think of it as a reflection on the importance of considering different points of view while traveling through Morocco.

Story Number One is about the Muslim Saint Nasruddin Hodja, who is buried in Aksehir, Turkey. On his gravestone the date of death is given as "386", which is reportedly impossible--but if you reverse the date to "683" on the Hijira calendar (1286 on the business calendar), it fits the facts as they are known. Even in death, the saint pressed the point that you have to look at things from different points of view. That is why he rode backwards on a donkey all the time. It's supposed to be both funny and wise, and he reportedly explained his choice in terms of seeing what he couldn't see if he faced the other direction like everybody else. When I traveled to Turkey with a group of teachers, one of my projects involved collecting Hodja tales.

Story Number Two is about a Christian festival celebrated during the early Middle Ages. On the Saturday after Easter, church bells summoned people for a procession to the Basilica Leterana where they welcomed the Pope with praise songs. Priests entered into round dances, singing in both Latin and Greek. A sacristan was central in the next part of this pastoral play; dressed in finery and wearing a horned crown made of flowers, he danced like a jester--jingling a wand with little bells on it and tipping his horns in various directions. This was a masked dance, and his mask was associated with the ancient idea of the underworld. At the end of his dance, he seated himself backwards on a donkey and attempted to carry coins to the Pope in a washbasin balanced on the donkey's head. An untethered fox was also given to the Pope, but of course the coins spilled and the fox escaped. This festival is often described as a continuation of pre-Christian propitiary traditions, like the Greek Bacchanals, that focused on the relaxing of strict points of view about acceptable behavior. Pope Gregory VII banned the festival, but he died in exile and the tradition has persisted in various carnivals found around the world. I've been to a couple of those carnivals.

Story Number Three: Into the eighteenth century in England and France, a man who experienced physical abuse at the hands of his wife might be ridiculed by his neighbors by being forced to ride a donkey through town--seated backwards, and holding the donkey's tail. To make sure everybody witnessed his shame, there was a great beating of pots and pans to bring everybody outdoors. Supposedly this tradition has died out, but in a rural village in France I once stumbled upon a group of women banging pans and shouting at a man riding backwards on a donkey. I never learned why.

None of these stories considers the donkey's point of view. But they get me thinking that I should be careful to avoid jumping to conclusions about what I see while I'm on the road, starting with a Roman mosaic on a Moroccan hillside. They also inspire me to attend to the similarities in stories from different times and places, and not just the differences.
The composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, known for sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo performances, loved coffee so much he wrote the "Coffee Cantata" and immortalized the drink in the song "How sweet coffee tastes! More beautiful than a thousand kisses, sweeter than muscatel wine!" and he also wrote: "Without my morning coffee, I'm just like a piece of roasted goat fat." How he would have enjoyed sitting in a Moroccan cafe.
For, despite the fact that many people associate Moroccans with mint tea, it is coffee drinking that plays a major role in Moroccan social and business life. Yes, mint tea is refreshing and yes, it is probably the subject of more tourist photographs, but Moroccans drink far more coffee. And Moroccan coffee is superb.
Take a stroll past a café anywhere in Morocco and your will see coffee drinkers taking their time over an espresso. The time thing is interesting. The French or Italian habit of a quick caffeine hit, standing at a bar, on your way to work, is not the Moroccan way. Here a single espresso can be sipped for an hour while the day's business is got underway. Sit for a while and you will see that the café is also the "office" from which enterprises are run. The first impression - that of men simply wasting their time in the café - is wrong. Business is being done. People come and go, delivering messages, parcels and money.

While the café is still a mainly male domain, this, like much of contemporary Moroccan life, is changing. Women tourists have broken down the stereotype and their Moroccan sisters have been quick to follow their lead. On a recent trip to the beautiful town of Moulay Idriss, almost thirty percent of the café crowds were women. The upper terrace rooms of most cafés were traditionally the preserve of women, but now they are moving down through the "glass ceiling".

A casual observation would suggest that the women coffee drinkers tend to drink "nus nus", the half-half milky coffee that men might only drink first thing in the morning. The sight of a Moroccan women having a cigarette with her espresso is still rare in the more conservative cities such as Fez. But Marrakesh? Casablanca? Here coffee drinking democracy is in full force.
If making a great cup of coffee is a barista's art, then Morocco is a land of artists. The coffee in many instances is Arabica grown in Côte d'Ivoire. But the best coffee in Morocco is more than simply a good bean well roasted. For the connoisseur there is spiced coffee. In the souqs of Morocco are small stallholders making a living selling coffee and spices. For thirty dirhams (about $3.50) you can purchase half a kilo of Arabica beans that are then ground with a mixture of up to nine spices. These include; nutmeg, black pepper corns, cassia (Cinnamon) bark, sesame and cumin seeds. One of the delights in drinking this spiced coffee is that each shop seems to have a slightly different mixture.

Given the quality of Moroccan coffee, it seems surprising that the large coffee chains should make an inroad into Morocco. Imagine our surprise to find a Facebook page entitled "Bring Starbucks to Morocco!!!" (their exclamation marks, not ours). The group has 450 members all keen to drink fancy coffee. And, even more surprising, the founder of the page claims links to the World Health Organisation. Of course, Starbucks is an acquired taste, but it is a world away from a real Moroccan coffee in both taste and cost.

Then there is the health issue. According to France's le Post, "Un cappucino frappé qui équivaut au quart de la ration calorique d'une femme en bonne santé, c'est possible chez Starbucks. Sur, on apprend ainsi que le
Frappuccino en version 50 cl, produit phare de la marque, contient entre 450 et 550 calories en moyenne. Colossal." You do not need to understand French to comprehend that 550 calories is... is, er... well, "colossal'!

And if Starbucks wasn't enough, the latest news from the coffee front is that the Canadian retailer, The Second Cup Coffee Company, has plans to open four new locations in Morocco Mall, Casablanca, with its regional franchise partner, Groupe Amarg, in pursuit of its global expansion plans. The Morocco Mall is also a Starbucks site.

The, company, which has presence in 16 countries across the world, said the new locations are the first four of 20 coffee cafés to open in key locations in Morocco and they will be run in conjunction with Moroccan partner Groupe Amarg. Speaking on behalf of Groupe Amarg, Zouhiar Idrissi said, "We are delighted to be given the opportunity to demonstrate to everyone in Morocco what Canadians have known for decades - that Second Cup is simply the best coffee cafe chain. This is a brand that has a great core product, and we have been enthused by the whole Second Cup team and their passion."

Second Cup International president Jim Ragas said the new locations are scheduled for opening in the Morocco Mall in October, 2011. "Second Cup believes that having strong local owners as operators is instrumental to delivering a superior guest-experience," Ragas said.

According to Groupe Amarg, the Second Cup experience will cater to the Moroccans who are looking for a premium café experience driven by value.

The coffee retailer's international expansion, which started in 2003, has opened cafés in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Turkey, the US, Cyprus, Romania and Lebanon.

The company offers espresso-based beverages and iced drinks, signature foods, indulgent treats and premium beverages. We suppose they will also have spiced coffee.

While it is certainly right that Moroccans can choose to have any kind of coffee they like, what is sad is that many visitors may head for the familiar chains and miss out on a cup of real Moroccan coffee in a street café. It is a bit like visiting Morocco and only eating at McDonalds. We could go on, but right now it is time to head to the café for a
 nus nus. For, in the words of the great coffee lover,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  without a cup of coffee, "I'm just like a piece of roasted goat fat." Oh, and it will only cost me five dirhams.
Article firs published at View From Fez
 Morocco succeeded in resisting global slowdown thanks to FDI, privatization receipts, OECD
Morocco succeeded in resisting the global slowdown thanks to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and privatization receipts, head of the Private Sector Development Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anthony O'Sullivan said, underlining that the Kingdom showed commitment to economic openness by concluding several free trade agreement.

"By the increase of the FDI sixfold in five years, in addition to the receipts of privatization, we got results despite the fact that Morocco is impacted by the downturn like the rest of the region's countries," O'Sullivan told French-speaking paper "Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb".

    This country set up an anti-poverty program called the INDH to help the underprivileged, and developed its tertiary sector which stands for 60% of the GDP, thus reducing its dependence on agriculture, he added, recalling reforms implemented to improve the business climate, mainly the creation of the National Committee for Business Environment, the Moroccan Investment Development Agency and regional investment centers.

    He went on saying that Morocco is among the countries of the region which have many development plans in relation to the different sectors: plan Emergence, vision 2020 for tourism, green Morocco plan, digital Morocco 2013 plan, and the energy plan. "All these plans complement each other and seek to promote growth and employment."

    He highlighted the interest Morocco takes in infrastructure development including building the Tanger Med port, tourist centers, airports and highways, developing the electricity, water and telecommunication sectors, and slashing taxes in favor of businesses with a code of good governance. 
Morocco fights corruption through education.
By Siham Ali 2011-07-17
Schools are the new battleground in Morocco's anti-corruption strategy.
The Moroccan education ministry and the kingdom's main corruption watchdog body are working together on plans to integrate ethics into school curricula.
The Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption (ICPC) and the education ministry signed an agreement on July 11th that establishes a framework for co-operation to drive home the issue through education.
Authorities also plan a national competition to encourage students to participate in anti-corruption measures.
The aim of the partnership with the ICPC is to instil positive values in pupils at the heart of Moroccan society, using new strategies and improved educational programmes, Education Minister Ahmed Akhchichine said. There was a general conviction that negative behaviour could not be changed without some kind of educational plan, he said.
Akhchichine said there would be a new contract between schools and society, adding that educational institutions have a key role to play in the fight against corruption by engaging in debate and dialogue with the upcoming generation.
Education encourages the emergence of a generation that is capable of fighting corruption and restoring the principles of integrity and accountability, ICPC chairman Abdesselam Aboudrar said. He explained that his organisation would offer citizenship education based on the values of transparency, responsibility and ethics.
Sociologist Yousra Jemali lauded the initiative, saying Morocco's corruption problem was firmly embedded in people's thinking and attitudes. The idea, she said, will be to work with schools to correct a number of misguided attitudes, such as the readiness to accept blackmailing by state officials in order to receive administrative documents.
"Moroccans tend to camouflage corruption by using other words, such as 'gift' or 'tadouira'. Schools are being asked to change that notion," Jemali said.
The culture of blackmailing must be stamped out from an early age and children must be steeped in positive values based on integrity and honesty, teacher Souhaila Bouchtoui said. She added that adults must give a concrete demonstration of corruption's negative repercussions on the country's development.
Results from the 2010 Global Corruption Barometer showed that the problem was widespread in Morocco, extending from institutions to the public at large. A third of the heads of households surveyed admitted to handing over bribes when using public services.
In the most recent report from Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, Morocco was in 85th position out of 178 countries. The judicial system and civil service were the most corrupt institutions, followed by the police service, according to the organisation.
Moroccan jobs, education top post-election challenges.
By Mawassi Lahcen for Magharebia 2011-07-22
Ahead of Morocco's first election under the new constitution, MP and entrepreneur Saloua Karkri Belkeziz answers some tough questions about how far and how fast change will come to the kingdom.
Moroccans are counting on the next government to fix the country's economic and social problems, the worst of which is unemployment.
Saloua Karkri Belkeziz is uniquely positioned to discuss what voters may expect from the first election under the new constitution. As an independent parliamentarian, she knows government. As the founder of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Morocco (AFEM) and the head of the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM), she also knows jobs.
Magharebia: Is Morocco ready for the upcoming poll?
Belkeziz: The new constitution gave broad powers to the head of government and gave voters the right to select the person who will assume this post. Therefore, I think Moroccan political parties shouldn't just present their platforms: they should present candidates who can assume this responsibility.
I also think that the Moroccan parties, as well as the state and civil society, should take time to prepare well in order to ensure broad participation in the election and make it a success. That is why I disagree with some of the political forces that call for speeding up the election and holding it next October.
The main question now, in my opinion, is whether we will accept a head of government who only represents 10% or 15% of all Moroccans?
I think that March 2012 will be a suitable date, as it will enable the current government to complete its mandate, and then hold it to account for its management of public affairs. The time period between now and March 2012 will give political parties and the state an interval to introduce the necessary regulatory reforms to make the election a success.
Magharebia: Will new voters turn out to cast their ballots?
Belkeziz: The parties must open their doors for young people and women. It will be easier to regain young people's confidence and motivate them to take part in politics.
There are about 7 million people at the voting age who didn't put their names on the electoral rolls. I think we should give those people the opportunity to take part in the election.
The horizons that the new constitution is opening will give a new taste and flavour and meaning to politics in Morocco, as it will open the field for political activists to reach decision-making positions through elections and enable them to implement their ideas and programmes.
The next government must consist of at least 2 or 3 parties that have a joint programme and a unified and comprehensive view of the issues, unlike what we see today. We want a strong, credible government that is based on citizens' votes and really represents them. We want a government that is capable of dealing with challenges and a government that meets the requirements established under the new construction.
Magharebia: The next head of government will have broad powers under the new constitution. What do you see as the greatest challenges facing Morocco?
Belkeziz: The next government will have to deal with unemployment, education and health, because what young people are looking for is dignity. Dignity starts with providing a decent job that guarantees social stability. By "a decent job", I mean one that ensures social protection.
Right now there are only about 2.5 million workers who have health coverage. This situation just can't continue. All workers should enjoy social and health coverage.
The rate of unemployment is very high and is expected to exacerbate in the next months, especially as the expected economic growth rate is less than 5%. It's true that the unemployment rate got down to below 9.5%, but we shouldn't forget that this figure includes unemployment statistics in rural areas.
In urban areas, the unemployment rate is around 19%.
During the third quarter of this year, the rate is expected to rise with the school graduation, as thousands of young people will join the lines of job-seekers.
Reforming the constitution alone is not enough to solve these problems. The constitution just gives the general framework, but the most important thing is what the next government will do.
Whatever the case, the next government will find itself faced with a heavy legacy. The current government will leave behind very tough conditions.
Magharebia: So what can be done about jobs?
Belkeziz: As far as I'm concerned, I think that job creation should be mainly in the private sector, in the productive sectors, not only through government. In addition, employment at the civil administrative level should respond to real needs, meaning that we should have competent people who can provide quality services for citizens and not just become employees who receive salaries. But this needs political courage and a change in mentalities.
Magharebia: How much can we depend on the private sector to create jobs?
Belkeziz: The problem in the private sector is the unsuitability of education for employment needs. In addition, employment in the private sector requires experience, a condition that many young job-seekers - especially fresh graduates - don't have.
We just can't wait for a solution to the problem of suitability of education. There are thousands of young people for whom we need to find solutions.
The government must continue to support training and integration programmes at companies. Moreover, a suitable atmosphere for the incorporation of companies must be created. The number of companies that are incorporated in Morocco every year is still very limited. This requires a radical reform of the business atmosphere and the encouragement of enterprise and entrepreneurship in young people.
Magharebia: There is talk about a self-employment law, but nothing has happened yet. What's the delay?
Belkeziz: There is actually a self-employment law, but political competition between different ministers delayed its implementation. Each one wants to keep it to use it during the electoral campaign. This law is very important because it will enable many young people who have vocational skills to create simple enterprises without needing to wait for complex measures to form companies. In this way, they can engage in their trades and crafts in a structured and organised framework that provides them with social protection and health coverage.
Magharebia: Education is another top challenge, you said earlier. How do you see the solution?
Belkeziz: As to education, the main problem is the language; we can't just continue to educate young people in one language while we work in another.
It's not logical that young people study in the Arabic language up to the baccalaureate level and then be required to proceed with their high education in French. Upon graduation, we find ourselves faced with young people who don’t master any languages.
We studied under a good system, and we were learning languages, including Arabic, and at the same time, we were studying technical and scientific subjects in French. And at the same time, public education was strong. The problem is that this trend towards private education involves social discrimination and exclusion, as only well-to-do people can afford quality education for their children.
I think that we should reconsider the subsidy that the government is providing to private education, and to re-direct this subsidy to the family instead of giving tax privileges or other benefits to private education institutions. These institutions are enterprises and their aim is to make profits. Therefore, they must pay taxes.
We need to support families that are forced to send their children to private schools because the state didn't provide public education at the required quality and level. We can do this by deducting the expenses that families spend on private education from income tax.
Morocco extends tech program for college students
Jul 22nd, 2011 | By Jahd Khalil | Category: Tech
The Moroccan government extended a program to provide technology to the country’s postgraduate students, the Dutch research firm Telecompaper reported this week.
The Digital Morocco 2013 program subsidizes 85 percent of the purchase cost of a laptop computer, as well as providing one year of broadband Internet.
In a meeting July 11, Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi as well as other ministers discussed the program as well as other future initiatives.
The service is provided by the Universal Telecommunications Service Management committee, or Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Télécommunications (ANRT) ANRT.
The initiative does not cover all students, right now only engineering students can utilize the program.
In addition to the subsidies for technology costs, ANRT seeks to outfit universities with wireless free Internet (Wi-Fi) on campus.
New constitution 'will bring greater openness and democracy to Morocco': Congresswoman
Washington - The New Moroccan constitution, approved by a landslide majority following a referendum on July 1, "will bring greater openness and democracy to Morocco," US Congresswoman Shelley Berkley said on Wednesday.
"I am encouraged by the recent referendum held in Morocco that approved the constitutional changes proposed by King Mohamed VI,” Berkely, the Democratic Representative who represents the Nevada First Congressional District, said in a statement.
These reforms enable Morocco to be welcomed “into the community of world democracies”, added Berkely.
"The U.S. should help the Moroccan government in every way we can to ensure" the transition toward democratic governance “happens in a safe and constructive environment that strengthens this important alliance and brings greater stability to the region,” the US Congresswoman went on to say.
G8 willing to assist Morocco implement reform programme
Paris - G8 member states voiced willingness to assist Morocco "to rapidly implement" its reform programme.
In a statement issued on Monday on behalf of the G8 member states, the French Presidency of the group welcome the results of the constitutional referendum, which heralds “new era” for Morocco.

“Through a peaceful democratic process, important changes were brought about in the Moroccan institutional system,” the same source underscored.

“Reflecting the aspirations expressed by the Moroccan people over the last months, the new constitution brought significant progress in terms of government accountability and action, the rule of law, human and social rights protection as well as the promotion of individual liberties for men and women,” the statement added.

The G8 members “encourage the comprehensive and rapid implementation of the Moroccan reform programme on the basis of sustainable dialogue with a wide range of political trends,” voicing “commitment to assist in this direction.”

In this respect the G8 express willingness to benefit Morocco from the Deauville Partnership, which aims at supporting Arab countries achieve democratic transition
Arabic the New Language of Facebook
Since it was launched in 2009, use of the Arabic Facebook interface has skyrocketed to reach some 10 million users today. At the moment, they represent about a third of all Facebook users in the Arab world, but it’s expected that within a year Arabic will overtake English to become the most popular Facebook language in the region. Spot On Public Relations, a Middle Eastern publicity agency specializing in on-line social media, found that two times as many people log on to Facebook in the Middle East and North Africa than purchase a daily newspaper.
“What’s fascinating for us is not Facebook’s overall growth in the Middle East but its growth in Arabic,” Alexander McNabb, director of Spot On PR told The Media Line.
According to their study, Arabic Facebook has grown about 175% a year, double the overall rate of the mushrooming use of Facebook worldwide. In some countries, like Algeria, it grew a whopping 423% annually.
“Until recently, many marketers pretty much took for granted that the region’s Facebook users were English-speaking Arabs or expatriates, using Facebook in English and representing a fairly elite group of on-line consumers. It has become apparent that this is now far from being true,” the study found. “We can expect Arabic to become the most popular Facebook langue in the region within a year.”
The Arabic platform’s 10 million users make up about 35% of the region’s Facebook subscribers, up from 24% in May 2010.
All year surfing in Taghazout, Morocco
Taghazout serves up an endless supply of surf all year round, discovers Jahn Vannisselroy
There’s nothing quite like a faceful of offshore ocean spray to let you know you’re alive. But then there’s also nothing like sliding on to a smooth early morning wave, riding the liquid glass on an uncrowded break with a handful of other surfers and the slow-rising sun as your only companions.
I would sit and contemplate all this, but there’s no time; more peaks are lumbering towards the beach at Panoramas in Taghazout. Forget thinking about the dream – I’m living it.
Surfing lessons
My Surf Maroc guide Zac, a Taghazout local with a style as wild as the afro atop his head, constantly chirps at me in broken English.
“Look up earlier,” he chides. “Trust yourself. Feel the board underneath your feet. You know it’s there, just point where you want to go.”
I launch myself into wave after wave, my fatboy board the perfect vehicle for hitching a ride on these small slices of oceanic perfection. Every ride is met with more approving words from Zac. From anyone else it would be wearing, but when you surf as well as he does, your advice means something.
I watch as he slashes his way down the line, smashing the wave’s lip and then cutting back to meet the peak. He pulls a neat 360 in the whitewash and then, as he paddles back out, motions to me.
“Come further out,” he calls. You’re ready now.”
Beyond the impact zone, there’s just a few of us. Aside from Zac, at 30 I’m the oldest by at least a decade; the line-up is made up of a group of Taghazout grommets, none yet even thinking about shaving.
They’re rippers and I have to be on my game to even think about catching a wave. But it doesn’t take long for me to find my spot in the hierarchy and score some good rides. Zac’s advice is paying off. The board floats beneath my feet as I learn to subtly distribute my weight and steer it along the green wall.
“No class for these boys today?” I ask Zac after I’m snaked for another wave. 
“No man,” he replies with a grin. “The beach is their school today … maybe everyday.”
The beach
The sun rises higher, bringing crowds – mostly novices going through the ‘learn-to-stand-up-on-the-beach-first’ routine.
By the time they hit the water, I’ve been out there for two hours and ready for a bit of onshore time to regenerate.
As a camel trots by, ridden by an eight-year-old in the foolhardy style of one who has never tasted pain, polite hawkers offer their wares, only too happy to chat and learn about the world outside Morocco – even though their offers are declined.
The groms are also in. They gather round hoping Zac can hook them up a sandwich. He does. Hopefully that’s bought me some waves in the afternoon session.
We surf ‘til mid-afternoon when the swell drops off. No work, no school – the groms definitely have the right idea.
Back at the stunning Surf Maroc HQ, the sun is setting above the villa’s top balcony. I watch it from an almost upside-down position under the tutelage of Lindsay, an extremely lithe Canadian yoga instructor.
A solid stretching session – some time to clear the mind and focus only on my breathing – would seem the perfect end to the day. But it’s not over yet.
The Surf Maroc team has prepared their nightly feast. Hunger can be a horrible poison but these solid meals are the antidote. Our multi-national tribe of wave warriors gathers to break bread and share tales of the day’s spills and thrills.
As the pastel-orange sky fades to black, the ocean becomes a soundtrack to sleep. My weary head hits the pillow, happy in the knowledge that I’ll do it all again tomorrow ... and every day this week.
All levels welcome
No matter what your level of surfing, there’s a wave for you in Taghazout.
From the beach breaks at Panoramas and La Delle (for learners/ intermediates) to the long rides and barrels of Killers and the exposed reef and fast wave at Boilers (for experienced riders), there’s never a shortage of swell.
Surf Maroc provides transport to the beach and instructors know where to go to suit your level of experience.
On your day off, talk to the team about a day trip to the nearby Paradise Valley for bush walking and cliff diving.
Essential Knowledge
When to go: All year round.
Getting there: Fly into Agadir with easyJet (from £34.99).
Getting around: Surf Maroc provides daily transport to the beach.
Visas: Available at the airport.
Currency: Dirham. 1 GBP = 12 MAD. LANGUAGE Arabic, French and English.
Going out: Taghazout is a ‘dry’ town - which means there is no alcohol served. You can bring booze into the village but must drink it in a private residence. There are cafes open late at night.
Accommodation: Surf Maroc offers packages from £169.
Jahn Vannisselroy was hosted by Surf Maroc ( Morocco’s leading surf company. It has provided unrivalled surfing holidays, top service and great value at stunning beaches for more than eight years. From £169 pp/pw.
read more:
From the souks of mediaeval Islamic cities to the splendour of the Atlas mountains
Published: 17/07/2011  Newspaper section: Brunch
From Saharan dunes to the peaks of the High Atlas, Morocco could have been tailor-made for travellers. Lyrical landscapes carpet this sublime slice of North Africa like the richly coloured and patterned rugs you'll lust after in local cooperatives. The mountains _ not just the famous High Atlas but also the Rif and suntanned ranges leading to Saharan oases _ offer simple, breathtaking pleasures. Night skies glistening in the thin air; views over a fluffy cloudbank from the Tizi nTest pass. On lower ground, there are rugged coastlines, waterfalls and caves in forested hills, and the mighty desert.
The varied terrain may inform your dreams, but it shapes the very lives of Morocco's Berbers, Arabs and Saharawis. Despite encroaching modernity, with motorways joining mosques and kasbahs as man-made features of the landscape, Moroccan people remain closely connected to the environment. The nomadic southern blue men brave the desert's burning expanses in robes and turbans, with mobile phones in hand. Likewise, traditional life continues _ with tweaks _ in the techniques of Berber carpet makers; in date cooperatives; in medina spice trading; and in the lifestyles in ports such as Essaouira and mountain hamlets.
Meeting the Moroccan people involves nothing more than sitting in a cafe and waiting for your mint tea to brew. The trick is to leave enough time to watch the world go by with the locals when there's so much else to fit in _ hiking up North Africa's highest peak, learning to roll couscous, camel trekking, shopping in the souqs, getting lost in the medina and sweating in the hammam. Between activities, you can sleep in the famous riads, relax on panoramic terraces and grand squares, and mop up tajines flavoured with saffron and argan.
Often exotic, sometimes overwhelming and always unexpected, these ancient centres are bursting with Maghrebi mystique and madness _ the perfect complement to the serene countryside. When you hit town and join the crowds, you follow a fine tradition of nomads and traders stretching back centuries. Unesco has bestowed World Heritage status on medinas including Fez, the world's largest living mediaeval Islamic city, and the carnivalesque Djemaa el-Fna in Marrakesh. The terrorist bomb on the square in April, 2011, was a tragic episode in its history, but travellers should not be discouraged from visiting this welcoming, tolerant country.
This is an edited extract from 'Morocco', by James Bainbridge, et al. Lonely Planet 2011.
For more information visit
Jed Bartlet's favorite catchphrase applies fully to the post-referendum environment in Morocco. Both domestically and abroad, Makhzen authorities have reasserted their strength and mastery of the national political agenda. I will certainly have an opportunity to go back on more details regarding the turnout, its geographical distribution and how its significance is more important as a symbol than their intrinsic levels.
 First off, let us have a look at the various feedbacks to our Basri-era phenomenal figure of 73.46% and:
Rabat – Le nombre des votants qui se sont prononcés en faveur du projet de nouvelle constitution a atteint 9.653.492, soit 98,50 pc, selon les résultats provisoires du référendum constitutionnel du vendredi, a indiqué, samedi, le ministre de l’Intérieur, M. Taieb cherqaoui. [...] Selon les résultats provisoires du référendum tel que proclamés par les 39.969 bureaux de vote mis en place sur l’ensemble du territoire national, le nombre des inscrits a été de 13.451.404 électeurs, dont 9.881.922 votants, soit un taux de participation de 73,46 pc, a ajouté le ministre. (MAP Communiqué)
– Rabat. the total number of voters supporting the new draft constitution amounted to 9,653,492, i.e. 98.5% following provisional results from Referendum Day held on Friday. Interior Minister Taieb Cherqaoui announced on Saturday. [...] provisional results are proclaimed accross the 39.969 polling stations spread across the nation. Total number of voters amounted to 13,451,404 among which 9,881,922 showed up, reaching a turnout of 73.46%
French foreign minister Alain Juppé supported the Referendum results in these terms:
“Selon les résultats partiels donnés par le Ministère de l’intérieur marocain, le pourcentage des votants qui se sont prononcés en faveur du projet de nouvelle constitution a été de 98,49 pour cent des personnes inscrites sur les listes électorales. Le nombre des votants s’est élevé à 9.228.020, soit un taux de participation de 72,65 pour cent.
Nous devons bien entendu attendre les chiffres définitifs, mais il apparait d’ores et déjà que le peuple marocain a pris une décision claire et historique. [...] La révision de la constitution a été conduite à partir de consultations étendues, associant tous les partis politiques, les syndicats et une large palette de représentants de la société civile.
Nous saluons la forte participation du peuple marocain à ce référendum. Elle a donné lieu à des débats animés et substantiels, reflétés dans les médias et notamment sur internet.[...]La France se tient naturellement aux cotés du Maroc pour l’accompagner dans cette nouvelle ère et forme des vœux pour que la mise en œuvre de cette nouvelle constitution s’accompagne de nouveaux progrès et de nouvelles réussites.”
As for the United States State Department, the language was equally praising and very supportive of the Referendum, but more cautious and overall non-committal to the whole process, indeed:
The United States welcomes Morocco’s July 1 constitutional referendum. We support the Moroccan people and leaders in their efforts to strengthen the rule of law, raise human rights standards, promote good governance, and work toward long-term democratic reform that incorporates checks and balances. We look forward to the full implementation of the new constitution as a step toward the fulfilment of the aspirations and rights of all Moroccans.
Short, succinct and positively abstract. The State Department commits to nothing and keeps its options open.
Finally, the European Union press release doesn’t deviate from the quasi-unanimous praises of our referendum:
“We welcome the positive outcome of the referendum on the new Constitution in Morocco and commend the peaceful and democratic spirit surrounding the vote,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and neighbourhood policy commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a joint statement. [...]
“The reforms proposed in it constitute a significant response to the legitimate aspirations of the Moroccan people and are consistent with Morocco’s Advanced Status with the EU,” the said. “Now we encourage the swift and effective implementation of this reform agenda,” the statement said.
[...] “The European Union is ready to fully support Morocco in this endeavour.”
So in diplomatic terms, our significant partners are basically accepting the result, and this international support -some might consider it to be a blank check- makes the regime more secure and confirms its hegemony over the Moroccan political discourse.
This is even more obvious domestically: even though charges of ballot-stuffing and incoherent figures tarnished the referendum’s credibility, lambda Moroccans will not gainsay the result. The typical Moroccan voter (Male, Father of three children and living in a rural or sub-urban area) is more than likely to have voted for the constitution, not because what they would have read was interesting and appealing to their grievances, but because of multifarious factors: their social environment does not allow for criticism, individual decision-making or the use of Cartesian logics. Do I sound elitist and full of contempt? Perhaps I do. But the figures speak for themselves: the highest turnout figures were recorded in regions like Oued Ed-Dahab-Lagouira (92.19%) Guelmim-Es Smara (86.76%) Laâyoune-Boujdour-Sakia el Hamra (84.05%) and Doukkala-Abda (80.06%) All three regions are very tribal, and rely heavily on Makhzen administration for favours and other privileges, thus the higher outcome compared to national turnout. Conversely, low turnout in Casablanca and Rabat (respectively 57.17% and 72.39%) are thus because of its more individualistic, or shall we say more community-oriented settings, plus local administration has less leverage over its denizens, and so less likely to persuade them to vote (one way or the other).
The pro-democracy platform needs to pack up and look for new issues to campaign on, simply because the showdown that took place ever since February 20th is coming to an end, and not the movement’s advantage. The referendum might have been fixed, perhaps there will never be a solid body of evidence to suggest a nation-wide ballot-stuffing, and the absence of impartial scrutiny has a lot to do with it -perhaps if the retained option was a No-vote instead of an all-out boycott, there would have been some civic control over referendum proceedings. Furthermore, and because of the comparatively few people who took to the streets last week and today only confirm Moroccan apathy -and implicit acceptance- towards the referendum results.
The whiff of fresh air brought by the Feb20 demonstrations into the hermetical Moroccan political house, it seems, is losing speed. The long overdue New Politics many of us have been awaiting is yet again postponed to an unspecified date. Subsequently, there is a need to turn the public’s attention to more relevant issues: the national economy and the economics of national debt; the crumbling standards in public sector departments like Health and Education. More down to earth, issues that matter to the public are few and pressing: employment, standards of living and education for the future generations.
Paradoxically, these are the issues that explain the already existing and dangerously exacerbated social tensions between the haves and havenots. In between, our very own “squeezed middle” are the ones paying for these tensions, whether in demonstrations or just as a scapegoat for social resentment. I wish there was some sociological review of Feb20 prominent members; I would bet good money that many of these are of Middle-Class background, and those attacking them -the so-called “Baltagyas”- are from lower income and social classes. In any case, waging a political agenda does not seem to gather a lot of durable support, and that is why something else needs to be done.
Constitutional reforms can no longer be used as flag to rally dissatisfied individuals and communities. Rather, a more down-to-earth set of agenda focused on these immediate needs can win favours and support to build on more political and strategic grievances later on.
Morocco's Democratic Changes Fail to Appease All
By AIDA ALAMIPublished: July 20, 2011
RABAT, MOROCCO — A stressed middle-aged woman in a taxi in Casablanca looked with disdain at thousands of protesters on a main avenue. “We are fed up with them,” she told the driver. “Can’t they just leave us in peace. They wanted a new constitution. They got it. What else do they want?
“They are fighting for our rights,” he replied. “I hope they keep on marching until our health and education systems are fixed and corruption, the biggest ill of this country, is gone.”
A landslide vote in a July 1 referendum paved the way for a new constitution, introducing more freedoms and gender equality. The constitution was approved by 98 percent of those who voted, winning King Mohammed VI congratulations from world leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But critics dispute the validity of the referendum, saying that only 13 million of 20 million eligible Moroccans were registered to vote. They also say the constitution fails to enshrine significant separations of powers within the government.
Leading democracy activists including the February 20 Movement for Change, which began on Facebook and has carried out a series of rallies in major cities, have rejected the outcome and pledged to continue to fight for the establishment of a fully democratic state.
Abdeslam Maghraoui, a political science professor at Duke University in North Carolina specializing in North Africa, said the referendum was a short-term fix for Morocco’s problems.
“It seems that the monarchy and its supporters have managed to pull together a hasty and contested constitutional referendum,” he said. “This will give the monarch a few weeks or months to claim a political victory.”
Mr. Maghraoui said irregularities in the voting process and opposition from large segments of civil society, the main Islamist movement and some political parties had delegitimized the process.
“I would not be surprised at all if we go back to an atmosphere of crisis and possibly violence before the end of the year,” he said.
When the February 20 movement started organizing, shortly after the fall of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, the Moroccan regime activated an extensive propaganda campaign to paint protesters as enemies of the state manipulated by the Western Sahara liberation movement, Polisario.
Still, the movement, linking human rights activists, small leftist parties, youth activists and a banned Islamist party, Justice and Charity, mobilized thousands of people in more than 50 cities and it has since organized marches every Sunday, countrywide.
Its most significant victory has been to raise awareness among Morocco’s politically disengaged youth, who for the first time decided to get involved. Two weeks after taking to the streets, the movement gained ground when the king, in a speech on March 9, promised significant constitutional changes and the introduction of more personal liberties. He then appointed a commission to draft a new constitution, which he unveiled on June 17.
Still, the king’s call to Moroccans, citing the Koran, to vote for the charter was perceived by opponents as an improper interference in the process.
Mehdi Soufiani, a 24-year-old law school student in Rabat, said: “The king is an arbitrator. He shouldn’t have influenced the voters, making the vote about his popularity and not about whether the constitutional changes are what the country needs.”
In July, an organization of Moroccan students in France, Cap Democracy Morocco, which advocates the establishment of democratic institutions, organized a three-day workshop in Rabat that invited young people and scholars to a discussion titled, “Thinking Democracy After February 20.”
Younes Benmoumen, a 24-year-old graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Studies and president of the association, called the referendum a plebiscite on the king and the constitutional changes only cosmetic.
“There is a complete absence of a democratic spirit in the constitutional reform process,” Mr. Benmoumen said, “and no actions were taken to show a willingness of the regime to change.”
During a debate at the Cap Democracy workshop, many raised concerns that the movement had failed to assemble crowds as large as in Tunisia and Egypt and said it risked running out of steam and dying out.
Fouad Abdelmoumni, a member of the Coalition for Parliamentary Monarchy, a group of parties and activists that supports February 20, told young people at the workshop: “A push for radical change in society is only starting to bloom. It will not easily happen. Protesters are going to need to show endurance and patience because the road is still long.”
Najib Akesbi, an economist who teaches at the Institute of Agronomy in Rabat, predicted that the coming legislative elections would send people into the streets again. He said the referendum vote was flawed by coercive pressures from imams and local government officials, vote rigging and one-sided broadcast media coverage.
“Absolutely nobody knows what the majority of Moroccans think as a result of years of repression,” he said. “The movement remains strong in its fundamentals, at its core, and the protesters remain very determined. After Ramadan and summer, the protests will very likely intensify in September.”
Analysts say the newly engaged if widely disparate groups of young Moroccans are not likely to stop pushing for change. That assessment echoes what the young protesters themselves say.
“We are fighting for something meaningful and we will win,” said Mr. Benmoumen. “We are not subject to any deadline, and the course of history is on our side.”
Arab Spring, Moroccan Style
Morocco's new constitution attempts to push real reform, but will demand much effort from the country's political elite--including
One of the most striking aspects of the political upheaval that has cascaded back and forth across the Middle East and North Africa over the last half-year has been the fact that it largely bypassed Morocco, a country which suffers from many of the same underlying ills, which drove the protests elsewhere – corruption, poverty, unemployment, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small stratum, the absence of real democracy and closed horizons for its large, youthful population.

To be sure, a loose amalgamation of youthful activists, organizations and parties demanding fundamental reforms did arise, and security forces occasionally employed a heavy hand in repressing demonstrations. But the protests never reached a critical mass, while the Moroccan authorities, i.e. the Royal Palace, were proactive in their response. They increased state subsidies on basic goods, raised salaries for civil servants and promised a constitutional overhaul.

The upshot was that on July 1, 98.5 percent of Moroccan voters (73 percent of those eligible) endorsed a new constitution designed to modernize Moroccan political life while maintaining the prerogatives of the ruling Alouite monarchy. The absence of upheaval and the veneer of reform measures further strengthened Morocco’s favorable image in the West, one of a country characterized by a benevolent mix of tradition and modernity, authenticity with openness to foreign cultures, political stability and evolution towards greater pluralism. This includes an Islamist current, as well as one which seeks to enhance the status of women.

Can one speak of Moroccan exceptionalism? Is there a secret to Morocco’s ability to dodge the shock waves roiling the region? To be sure, Morocco possesses some distinct assets: a political and societal center within a distinct geographical core stretching back more than 1,200 years; a ruling dynasty whose legitimacy is based on direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad; religious homogeneity; and a distinct material and popular culture, religious practice, and linguistic configuration, much of which stems from Morocco’s Berber population. However, if anything, Tunisia and Egypt possess an even greater degree of cohesion, which did not prevent the latest revolutions.

Was it the legitimacy provided by the monarchical institution that explains the lack of a massive popular uprising? To even suggest so would have been ridiculed a generation ago. But by the 1990s, Middle East monarchies began to be viewed in a more favorable light, a resilient institution that often provided vital social cohesion in times of rapid change. Moreover, the last years of the late King Hassan’s 38- year reign, which ended in his death in 1999, were marked by what he called “homeopathic democracy” – measured, incremental steps at political liberalization. However numbingly slow, it resulted in the ending of some of Morocco’s most notorious human-rights abuses, an expansion of the space for civil society organizations, and an agreement with the historic opposition political parties to re-enter the political game.

Liberal circles hoped that Hassan’s son and successor, Muhammad VI, would move towards establishing a Spanish-style constitutional monarchy, à la King Juan Carlos. Although this was not in the cards, he made Morocco a significantly more relaxed place, politically, socially and culturally, in sharp contrast with the political stagnation and retrogression which had marked the Tunisian and Egyptian political landscapes and set the stage for their 2011 revolutions.

Part of Muhammad VI’s ruling formula was to allow a certain degree of Islamist political activity. Another was to balance it by strengthening the country’s liberal current. One centerpiece of his approach was the adoption of a new family law, which brought women significantly closer to legal equality with men. Another was a truth and reconciliation commission to acknowledge the abuses committed by his father’s minions. A third was the partial support of the Amazigh (Berber) culture movement. Real power in the kingdom, however, stayed in the hands of the palace and its affiliate circles, while parliament remained emasculated and political parties mainly competed for the patronage the palace was willing to bestow. Moreover, in more recent years, the country regressed in terms of press freedom and human rights, while economically, growth rates were insufficient for reducing the high rate of unemployment and the rate of illiteracy remained over 40 percent.

The new Moroccan constitution, which was drawn up by a crosssection of experts appointed by the palace, contains a number of potentially meaningful innovations. Ensuring human rights, gender equality and a genuinely independent judiciary are considered core values. Tamazight (Berber), spoken by up to 40 percent of the country’s population, is recognized as an official language of the state, alongside Arabic – a historic achievement for the Berber movement. The constitution even acknowledged the Jewish contribution to Morocco’s national identity.

The prime minister will now be the head of the political party that receives the most votes, and his powers and that of the parliament are somewhat enhanced. However, preponderant power remains in the hands of the king who, while no longer defined as “sacred,” remains the Amir al-Mu’minin (Commander of the Faithful), both the religious and political head of the state, symbol of the nation’s unity, guarantor of the state’s existence, supreme arbiter between institutions, and personally beyond reproach.

In short, Morocco’s new constitution reflects the country’s dual, and often contradictory nature – a hereditary, Islamic-based absolute monarchy, ruling over a modernizing, multicultural and politically pluralist social and political order. Mohammad VI has bought further time with his latest measures, and Moroccan society as a whole does not appear ready to go to the barricades. But staying ahead of the rising curve of demands for real reform will demand much skill and wisdom from the country’s political elite, beginning with the king himself.

The author is the Marcia Israel Senior Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University.
Moroccan rights group seeks actions after reform.
Tue Jul 19, 2011 By Souhail Karam
RABAT (Reuters) - Constitutional reform crafted by Morocco's king protects human rights better but won't amount to much unless the state apologises for past abuses and holds to account those responsible, a top rights group said.
The Moroccan Human Rights Association (AMDH) also called for a separation of powers to eliminate interference by the palace elite in domestic security issues and in the judiciary.
Without such measures Morocco would replicate "previous failed bids" to overcome a dark legacy of human right abuses, AMDH chairman Khadija Ryadi told Reuters in an interview.
King Mohammed, a staunch ally of the West, is expected to hand over some of his powers to elected officials under a new constitution approved in a referendum earlier this month.
But the 47-year-old ruler will continue to have a key say over strategic decisions and will chair both the judiciary and a newly created national security council.
The move by the Arab world's longest-running dynasty is viewed in other Arab monarchies as a test case to see if reform can hold back the wave of uprisings sweeping the region.
"What has been added in the new constitution marks an advance for human rights over the 1996 constitution," Ryadi, whose organisation is the country's main independent rights body, said in a weekend interview.
She noted an emphasis on gender equality, bans on torture and arbitrary arrests and recognition for the indigenous Tamazight language spoken by Berbers.
"But it does not guarantee the establishment of a state of law and does not respect the people's right to self-determination because it keeps wide influence in the king's hand and puts him above accountability".
"Impunity is key: It will be very difficult for anyone to believe in the new process while officials responsible for past human right abuses remain in office".
Driss el-Yazami, who chairs the National Human Rights Council set up this year by the king, said the body plans workshops to educate law enforcement personnel and other public employees on rights protection in the new constitution.
In 2004 King Mohammed set up a committee to investigate rights violations by security services between independence in 1956 and 1999, when he ascended the throne on the death of his father who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.
The Equity and Reconciliation committee was not allowed to seek justice for the victims who were compensated and allowed to speak of their ordeals - but without naming those responsible.
It did however recommend a series of reforms to ensure that such violations did not occur again, and Mohammed ordered the government's human rights body to follow up on them.
"The only thing that has actually been done was to compensate the victims," said Ryadi.
"Other recommendations such as an official apology by the state, the abolition of the death penalty, shedding light on the disappearance of political activists and adopting sound security governance have been buried."
Authorities had not delivered on a promise to compensate restive regions -- such as the northern Rif, central Khenifra and southeastern Kelaat M'Gouna -- for several years of isolation imposed by the late king for their outspoken rebellious sentiment.
"People had their land and assets confiscated by the state and they have not recovered them until this day. That's besides under-development they endured during the years of isolation".
The North African country of 33 million does not have the oil and gas wealth of its neighbours, but in 2005 authorities launched a human development plan to try to bridge wide regional disparities.
"Saying the state does not have enough money is not a valid argument when you consider the lack of transparency that prevails in the management of public funds. Who decided that a high-speed train was a priority? The king," Ryadi said.
"As far as we are concerned, the struggle continues to achieve real democratic gains."
AMDH supports the February 20 Movement which has been holding almost-weekly protests to demand a parliamentary monarchy and full accountability of officials.
The loose and leaderless movement has not garnered the kind of support that overthrew leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, in part because the king is respected by most Moroccans, but has generated the biggest anti-establishment protests in decades.
"February 20 has created a new capacity in pushing forward demands for real change," Ryadi said.

No comments:

Post a Comment