The last few weeks have revealed that protests for democratic change in Morocco are still running their course, yet speculations that the movement has been hijacked by Islamists are rising to the point where its most fervent defenders have made clear statements confirming the news. At the same time, It seems like the supporters for democratic change in Morocco today are still clinging to the ability of the feb20 youth movement to sustain the protests. But what if the feb20 weakens, can these democratic supporters in Morocco lead the call for change? Why does the Feb20, a leaderless movement, suddenly seem like the life ring for democracy supporters,moderates, leftists and Islamists alike?
In Tunisia and Egypt where the revolutions have led to the successful toppling of lifelong dictators, there is a sense of victory and achievement leading to a new national pride sentiment. Think about it: Egyptians or Tunisians who claim participation in the revolutions are perceived very positively, maybe even as heroes. In contrast, the feb20 youth members though respected by many, are still largely accused of being traitors or irresponsible kids encouraging Islamist revival.
This situation is quite ironic because even the post Benali and Mubarak Tunisia and Egypt are still not immune to challenges, and fears of revolution hijacking are still high on the list of the two countries’ concerns. Similarly, the apparatus supporting the dictatorships remains very strong in both countries. Yet, these legitimate fears have not prevented Egyptians and Tunisians from gaining a new sense of citizenship, dignity and social empowerment. A feeling of Yes we can! has taken over the two societies, and whether they can or they can’t (achieve democracy), the perception is there and clearly founded in their unprecedented ability to topple their invincible rulers. This feeling of achievement has infused a new sense of entrepreneurship as the youth of these two North African neighbors are now taking concrete steps to building the new Egypt and the new Tunisia. Yes, Tahrir square is still filled with protesters demanding the end of whatever remains from the previous regime, and change is clearly a process, but at least both countries have a clear sense of a “Before and after” scenario. And that sense of renewal provides them with the confidence (or illusion), to move forward. Ultimately, the persistence of this sense of renewal and confidence in the future will determine their success in shaping better societies . As long as the belief is alive, the desire to achieve real change will serve as a good motive to continue on building, developing and creating better societies.
In Morocco, the constitutional reform has not succeeded in creating this “before and after” scenario as shown by the sustained protests, and the new constitution has yet to instill a sense of renewal. Thus, “Yes, we can move forward” perceptions are equally slow to take root.
Basically, that is the difference between the current situation in Morocco and the situation in Egypt and Tunisia. All share political uncertainty, concerns of radicalism, and the presence of a strong dictatorial heritage. While Tunisians and Egyptians believe that change has taken place (rightly or wrongly so), many Moroccans feel disillusioned. But if they looked at their glasses as half full rather than half empty, maybe they too can join efforts to achieve a more sustainable society.