Politics | Human rights
Morocco protests planned for 20 February
Several Facebook groups call for anti-government protest marches in Morocco on Sunday, 20 February, quickly gaining tens of thousands of supporters. Most groups, uniting under the name of the "Freedom and Democracy Now" movement, call for a radical constitutional reform in the kingdom and the introduction of real democracy.
But the "Freedom and Democracy Now" movement is still in its small beginnings, with sometimes confusing calls and messages to supporters. The date for a major protest march has several times changed, but there now seems to emerge an agreement of 20 February being the first day of major Moroccan protests. On Twitter, the tag #Feb20 is already used as reference to protests in Morocco.
So far, there have been some smaller protests in Morocco, including an anti-government rally in Tangier, northern Morocco, on 30 January, which was met with police violence. Also, in the capital Rabat, there have been minor solidarity manifestations in front of the Egyptian Embassy. An earlier smaller protest by human rights activists in Casablanca on 6 January went along peacefully, but with leaders later being detained.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan government claims not to be alarmed at all by the repeated calls for protests in the country. Government spokesman Khalid Naciri on Thursday said there were no concerns at all regarding the planned 20 February marches, as Morocco "for a longer time has been engaged in an irreversible process towards democracy and widening public liberties."
Reports from behind the scene however indicate nervousness in Rabat. Government was quick to subsidise basic food items after the Tunisian uprising. The King has met with military chiefs and French advisers to discuss how to meet the widening unrest in North Africa. There are even many unconfirmed reports of troops being moved from occupied Western Sahara to Morocco-proper.
Also on the internet, government seeks to find ways to strike back. Suddenly, Facebook groups in support of the Rabat regime and against the 20 February marches are popping up rapidly. Some of these talk of pro-government marches to answer the anti-government movement. The calls give associations to the worst days of violence in Egypt.
But the main voices emerging from the Moroccan government are more reconciling. It could seem Rabat authorities would be willing to engage in dialogue with a pro-democracy movement before it comes to widespread unrest and violence. If this pro-democracy movement emerges, of course. Because for now, it remains a virtual movement.
By staff writers
© afrol News
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