#Feb20, Democracy, Makhzen, Moroccans For Change, Morocco, Protests

Rebuttal to the skeptics ~ #Feb20

The following is from another friend of mine, in response to Note from my friend: Why I don’t support the #Feb20

Dear friend of my friend,

I am angry! I am angry because there are many Moroccans like you. They are not necessarily bad or ill-intentioned. They don’t benefit from the status quo. They are not sleeping with the Makhzen, and yet, They are still all about themselves. The feb20 doesn’t represent me either. I could argue with them about their contestation strategies and tactical choices, but I agree with their premise, and I share their overall democratic aspiration. Thus, I fully support them. I am not one of those who didn’t have access to education. I am not one of those who didn’t have a job. I am not one of those who struggled to get healthcare. I am not one of those who were ever jailed when they dared to speak up. But I was fully immersed in the system. I knew it in and out, and as much as I hated the system, I was afraid to end up hating my country, hating people, hating myself.   Before the system broke me, I packed my stuff and slammed the door. You can have your Makhzen, your chaos, your slums, your corrupt system. You can have your street children, you can have your f-ed up Moudawana, you can have your medieval regime, you can have your thieves, you can have my job…you can have it all.  I had lost hope.

The Feb20 taught me one lesson: it’s not about me. It’s about the system and its victims. The system has created illiteracy; the system has created street children. The system has created corruption. The system has discriminated against women. The system has encouraged extremism. I thought I left on my own, but the system was also the one who kicked me out. The Feb20 is a voice shouting out loud: Enough with this system. I don’t expect solutions from them. But I expect all Moroccans to answer to their call for democratic change. As Hilana Rizki rightly said: “Just do something.” Don’t just sit there and rant. Don’t just sit there and oppose, propose if you can! What is your solution? I dare you not to tell me that we need time…that we are engaged in a decade long reform process. The game was rigged from the beginning! You say you love the King and his wife, and why not? But what’s love’s got to do with it? And for the sake of objectivity, don’t tell me that your reason for loving him is “obscure!” Not at all, it’s not that obscure:  You have just been watching TVM and listening to Alaoui since you were born.

You speak of improved indicators during the last decade. You either live in a bubble, or in a hopeless state of dissonance. Check Morocco’s human development indicators and our economic performance these last few years. Look at what happened to freedom of the press. You believe that we live in a better decade? To some extent we do… The Internet and social media decade! Facebook became our school! Google is our best teacher! Have you heard the feb20 youth speaking? Only this era’s interconnected culture is able to produce such talented global citizens.

You say you won’t walk with Al Adl wa Al Ihsanne? I despise them more than you do. But I won’t let them take the streets from me. I will walk with them, in front of them, behind them. I will raise my voice for change. I will be there too, even if I have to step on their toes. But I am fed up of letting the Makhzen step on those toes on my behalf.  The Makhzen played this game for way too long. In fact, I have never been more optimistic that Al Adl Wa Al Ihsanne is coming out weaker from these protests. They too are criticized for their backwardness.  But I agree with you the obscurantism where Moroccans were kept all these decades, can play some bad tricks. Unless, you and me, the seculars, face our monsters, we won’t know how many seculars there are until we all come out of our closets, and fulfill our role of spreading our message. That same Feb20 voice is a secular one.

You want a Feb20 leader? The Feb20 are not so arrogant to claim any leaders or leadership. They will not propose a constitution: but they proposed a form of government: a parliamentary monarchy. To achieve it, they want a constitution drafted by a representative body.

The Feb20 is a voice with the utmost freedom to speak and march peacefully. If you wish, listen to their slogans, and pick what you want. I fully adhere to their main demand for a democratic country because I want Morocco’s future governments to be held accountable. No more blank checks. No more corruption. Moroccans deserve dignity. We deserve guaranteed freedoms, we deserve democracy.



One thought on “Rebuttal to the skeptics ~ #Feb20

  1. Dude,

    At the beginning, I was very supportive of the Feb20 movement, as its legitimate democratic aspirations meet mine in many respects. My support has faded though over time, not because I do not agree with their demands of reform, but because I believe the movement has a confused and counter-productive strategy to achieve change. Your friend has a lot of valid points:

    1. I genuinely think that Feb20 has very limited concrete and detailed measures to achieve its ultimate objective – democracy. Yes I can see that their demands include an elected representative body that will put together a constitution. But how? How the elections for such body will be organised? what weight will you give to the existing parties that are criticising Feb20? In top of that, I can’t see any clear ideas of what Feb20 would like to see in a constitution if they were to be in the driving seat of the constitutional body, and your friend point on presenting a counter-draft is highly valid.

    2. Refusing to discuss with the Maanouni commission: I think it is a strategic mistake. Feb20 is neither inspirational nor powerful enough to benefit from the unconditional support of Moroccan people. The matter of the fact is that the monarchy is still very powerful and influential, and Feb20 should have been smart enough to understand the imbalance of power. Feb20 could have been more pragmatic and have a real impact by expressing their views in front of Mr Maanouni. They can always campaign against the constitution if it does not meet their demands, but at least they would have had known what are the controversial points, and express clear counter proposals for those.

    3. lack of leadership: change needs leaders who can broker deals with conflicting parties, who can be responsible in their demands, who are accountable in front of their base to justify their decisions. The Egyptian revolution had inspirational leaders who were critical to its success (Wael Ghonim release was a turning point of the popular support for the revolution. Other credible opposition figures like Mr. El Baradei were critical for the change). The Tunisian revolution is not really comparable to the Moroccan situation as the Benali dictatorship was so harsh on its citizens that it was not sustainable, even with weak leadership.

    I would like also to add that Feb20’s communication strategy is far from being effective (from my humble point of view). I don’t want to be judged as elitist, but if Feb20 wants really to make a significant change, they must explain in a humble and didactic way to mister Bouchaib what a new constitution means for him. Most people in Morocco do not understand what the constitution is about, and unfortunately there is a high chance that people will vote for it without any debate, just because they have been told by the Makhzen that they should vote for it. I agree that Feb20 does not have equal treatment in the public media, but if they can organise marches of thousands people, can’t they organise public speeches to explain their views and what the change is about?

    Final point: Some of the Feb20 movement are totally populist. I can read in the Mamfakinch website

    “- Intégration des diplômés chômeurs à tous les niveaux de la fonction publique et ce par des concours en toute transparence et équité;
    – Assurer une vie digne à tous et toutes en luttant contre la vie chère. L’augmentation des salaires et du SMIC ;

    This is against any responsible behaviour, and are simply the wrong answer to the acute social problems that Morocco faces.

    Unlike your friend and same as Feb20, I truly believe that there are substantial flaws with the economic and political governance in Morocco. Our country needs urgent reforms making cristal clear who is responsible for what and developing the culture of accountability. But for all the above, Feb20 should step back and re-think its engagement strategy if they would like to win positive support from the Moroccan people.

    Posted by Issam Badri | June 13, 2011, 6:07 pm

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