Kelaât M’Gouna, Morocco.
Kelaât M’Gouna, Morocco.
Tifinagh calligraphy by Moulid, a great friend and extremely talented Amazigh artist from Taliouine (Morocco).
He uses traditional craft ink, natural saffron, grilled sheep hair soaked in water and industrial inks to realize his artworks. He also use various supports like cards, shoes, bags, dishes, towels, paper…
He has a studio in his hometown where he teaches Amazigh kids how to write using their own alphabet, his works are often exposed in Morocco and France and you can see more here.
Moroccan calligrapher, Noureddine Daifallah.
AP, 31 March 2013
RABAT, Morocco — Thousands of members of two of Morocco’s largest labor unions marched through the capital on Sunday to protest the Islamist-led government’s planned economic and labor reforms and its failure to stem unemployment and inflation.
Described as a “national march of protest” pushing for greater freedoms and rights, the few thousand demonstrators, brightly attired in yellow baseball caps and smocks, were smaller in number than past anti-government demonstrations by this North African nation’s labor movement.
The protesters were particularly irate over government plans to reform laws dealing with labor unions, including docking the pay of strikers and measures that the government says would increase transparency in union finances.
“The government has done nothing so far, not for the economy, not for social reforms and not even for the fight against corruption,” said Bouchra Sandeel, a teacher from Marrakech marching in the demonstration.
She expressed fear that efforts to reform the subsidies on fuel and food staples would hit the poor hardest in this country of 32 million.
Talib Ait Ahmed, a cannery worker from the southern coast city of Agadir, said he was protesting for a better life for workers in the face of the rising food prices and widespread unemployment.
Ait Ahmed acknowledged that the government faces constraints, but complained that the prime minister wasn’t doing anything to improve economic mobility and expand the small middle class.
“He’s not reacting. He sees the problem but hasn’t taken it in hand yet,” Ait Ahmed said.
Despite some reforms following the 2011 Arab Spring demonstrations, true power in Morocco lies with the monarchy and those close to it. Benkirane has repeatedly blamed “remnants” of the previous government in the bureaucracy and administration for blocking his reform efforts.
A poll published Friday by the daily L’Economiste gave Benkirane a 64 percent approval rating after just over a year in office. The paper noted it was a comfortable margin, but a 22 point drop from his 88 percent rating last year.
Fibulae, High Atlas, Morocco
While I can’t say that I agree with some of the views presented in this article (not in terms of article’s content so much as the vision of the named parties), it does offer some commentary on the history of opposition within Morocco with a notable emphasis on movements like Al Adl wa Ishane which long predates the sort of opposition we have seen in the past few years.
This interview also does a good job in depicting makhzen’s conscious decision to pick political players and the fact that many opposition leaders of those ideological orientations aligned with political Islam are coming out of educated classes. I think that while this presents one perspective out of many, it sort highlights some of the visions of those who supported Sheikh Yassine and El Oumma and the fears of those who see more security with the status quo.
[Mohamed El Marouani is the author ofAbdessalam Yassine’s funeral oration, who died on 13 December 2012. Sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for “conspiring against state security,” El Marouani was released during the wake of the February 20 Movement. He is the founder of the Al Umma, which he hopes to transform into a political party, however, he has been barred from doing so. The following interview was orginallypublished in French on Salah Elayoubi’s blog and translated to English by Allison L. McManus.]
Ahmed Benseddik and Salah Elayaoubi (AB and SE): We remember the eulogy that you gave at the funeral of Sheikh Yassine. Those of us who did not know you could appreciate your talents as an orator given the severe charges you delivered against those whom you described as “normalizers and collaborators in tyranny and corruption.” Who are you, Mohamed El Marouani?
Mohamed El Marouani (ME): I have a BA in economics, with a focus in econometrics, and a graduate diploma (Diplome des Études Supérieures DES) in management. I currently conduct research on questions regarding political Islamic thought. I am also writing a doctoral dissertation on “the theory of the legitimacy of political power in Islam.”
I am married and the father of three children, I am the senior manager and director of studies at Maroc Telecom and previously held a position at the National Institute of Post and Telecommunications’ management cycle.
I served as president and founder of the Movement for the Oumma from 1998 to 2011, I am the national coordinator for the party of the same name. Ex-activist and union official, I have also founded numerous civic associations, and coordinated and participated in actions in the defense of human rights (debates or demonstrations in protest or in solidarity with political prisoners or prisoners of conscience.)
Ex-political detainee, I was condemned to twenty-five years in prison, reduced to ten years on appeal, before being liberated on 14 April 2011 in the wake of the protests of the February 20 movement.
I am the author of several publications that address different themes including constitution and democracy, teaching, economy, and others, more notably a work on the political power of Islamic political thought—historically and contemporaneously.
AB and SE: What is your relationship with Sheikh Yassine and al Adl wal Ihsane?
ME: Sheikh Yassine, may God bless his soul, was one of the few leaders in this country who continuously and relentlessly demonstrated an unrivaled courage against despotism and corruption. His famous letters and addresses are both testaments to the grandeur of his personage. Despite incarceration, house arrest, persecution, and psychiatric confinement, he never wavered.
Moreover, the man was an intellectual; he carried a societal project, was gifted with the incontestable qualities that are necessary for leadership, as well as the charisma that goes with it. These were necessary to accompany and to advance al Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity Movement) to the important place it occupies today in the field of Moroccan politics.
The relationship that we have woven with him as much as with his organization, was based on mutual respect, cooperation and solidarity.
AB and SE: You were sentenced to twenty five years in prison before being been pardoned by the king? What were the circumstances of your arrest and condemnation?
ME: Since 2006, the makhzen (network of Morocco’s political and business elite) has been putting into place a political plan, with a security obsession, to restructure, or rather reformat, the political scene in Morocco, of which the major guidelines are:
- Forcible or consensual dismantling of the administrative parties to rework a political context that is adequate to the whims of the makhzen.
- Repression of independent media.
- Weakening of the electoral power of the PJD (even though the PJD does not pose any threat to the makhzenian political regime according to the political map).
- The continious tightening of the security surveillance against al Adl wal Ihsane in an attempt to contain them, as was well indicated by P. Vermeren in his work The Unfinished Transition.
However, the winds blew against the desires of the camp of oppression with the advent of the February 20 movement, which accelerated the demise of the entire scheme. It is in this political context that our arrest and condemnation unfolded. The makhzen has developed the habit of authorizing only the parties that conformed to its political vision. They do not want to authorize a political party that would retain its liberty and autonomy and not comply with the makhzen’s despotic nature. Having failed to subjugate the party and to convince its leaders, they decided to muzzle us and began an inequitable court process during which the universal principal of presumption of innocence was knowingly violated by then Minister of the Interior, Chakib Benmoussa. The judgment fit—unequalled mediocrity.
AB and SE: How were you so severely condemned one day, and just a little while later, you are simply liberated? Was this not another proof of the same methods of manipulation and dissuasion methods that are used by the makhzen? And is that not a confession of your innocence, and maybe that of others who have been condemned as well?
ME: No doubt about this! The makhzen was persuaded that conditions were ripe to install its strict political hegemony in the political field. It would not depart from the same Keynesian approach that all despotic regimes have of political life: “In the long run, we are all dead.” The project, always the same, is to break down all contestation of, or the tentative struggle against, despotism, and corruption.
But it did not count on the February 20 movement, which, in the wake of what has been called “the Arab Spring,” to counteract its plans and essentially become our liberation. It was a justified response for those who attempted to undermine our most basic rights and tarnish our reputation, and to cut us at the base and alienate us from the public.
But if our liberation was a matter of fact, imposed on the Makhzen by the mobilization of the Moroccan people, which gave birth to the February 20 Movement. I must say, however, there is a damper on this victory: other Islamist detainees continue to languish in prison— a sort of currency exchange to contain the ongoing change in our political decisions. This is completely wasted, for our determination to fight peacefully for the establishment of a true rule of law where Moroccans might enjoy a decent life and where wealth is distributed in an equitably remains intact.
AB and SE: The court of appeals has refused the authorization to the political party “Al Oumma” that you have put forth since its creation. It is without a doubt a sign that you are still under watch, despite the grace that you have received. Is the refusal justified?
Cigarette cards from the 1930s. Morocco.
Untitled - Moroccan artist, Farid Belkahia