12.10.2017 / 13:59 Uhr

Die Grenzen der Demokratisierung in Marokko

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Nabeel Khoury über die Entwicklung in Marokko:

The demonstrations, police repression, and continued violence in al-Hoceima in the northern Rif region of Morocco bring back not only the rebellious past of that region, but also memories among Moroccans of Hassan II’s repression—the so-called years of lead. The events also bring the country full circle back to the beginning of the Arab uprising of 2011 when optimists viewed Mohammed VI’s reasoned reaction to the February 20 uprising as a sign that Morocco had indeed taken a different path from the one taken by the fallen leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and the still standing one in Syria.

For almost a year now, Moroccans of the Rif have been demonstrating in anger against the police brutality that killed a fishmonger named Mohcine Fikri who was crushed to death in a garbage truck’s compacter and the seeming insensitivity of the state to his fate and indeed the fate of the region. Moroccans from various regions have demonstrated in solidarity with their brothers in the north and have expressed their disappointment in the state’s performance. Civil society leaders, many of whom had suffered under Hassan II’s harsh suppression of student demonstrations in the late seventies and early eighties, had come to think favorably of his son and heir Mohammed VI. Indeed, many former political prisoners felt positive enough about the young king’s reforms early in his rule that they took up government jobs or helped in the human rights field by coordinating their NGO work with that of the ministry of human rights. Now, at least those most sympathetic to the February 20 movement and who counseled the young rebels in 2011 to moderate their views and actions are turning to a darker view of the monarchy. The Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (OMDH) called for solidarity with the demands of the youth in the north and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) at one point led a twenty-four hour hunger strike calling for the release of those detained for demonstrating.

As with the infamous 2011 events in Tunisia, sparked by a peddler named Bouazizi immolating himself, it is the underlying poverty and sense of humiliation of a wide swath of Rif dwellers that has fuelled this more recent uprising. Civil society leaders are warning that after an initial period of political and economic reform the monarchy (or to be precise the deep state referred to as al-Makhzen in Morocco) is again turning defensive and resorting to repression and putting the brakes on steps towards democratization.