Category: Uprising in Morocco

September 27, 2013

Protesters seek release of Moroccan journalist jailed after report on al-Qaida video

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Hundreds of people protested Thursday in support of a Moroccan journalist who was jailed after publishing a story about an al-Qaida video.

The prosecutor general announced this week that the journalist, Ali Anouzla, has been charged under Morocco’s anti-terrorism law with assisting and advocating terrorism.

The protesters in the capital, Rabat, alleged he has been jailed for his independent views and criticism of authorities.

Anouzla, editor of the Lakome website, published a story about and posted the video by al-Qaida’s north African affiliate.

The video, released earlier this month, was a rare attack on Morocco and accused the king of corruption.

Amnesty International said Anouzla’s jailing “sends the message that any discussion of terrorism … will be treated by the government of Morocco as a criminal offense.”

If found guilty, Anouzla faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

Rabat | Mon Sep 9, 2013

(Reuters) – Morocco’s main Islamist opposition movement urged leftist groups on Monday to join a protest front against subsidy cuts as a shaky government prepares to raise energy prices as part of IMF-recommended budget reforms.

The government is planning to reduce fuel subsidies and bring energy prices closer to international market levels by reviewing them twice a month, according to country’s official bulletin released last week.

Al-Adl Wal Ihsane movement (Justice and Spirituality), which does not recognize the religious status of King Mohammed, called the decision a dangerous step with unforeseeable consequences.

“We call on all the honest and committed activists to form a broad front to support and oversee social protests, which must avoid political rivalries that strengthen the regime,” it said in a statement on its website.

While the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) which leads the government supports the monarchy, Justice and Spirituality rejects the king’s status as Commander of the Faithful.

It is unclear whether leftist groups will respond to the call of the Islamist movement, which has been the only force capable of mobilizing tens of thousands of protesters against the government since the fall of the communism in the 1990s.

It formed the backbone of the February 20 movement in 2011, the Moroccan version of the Arab Spring protests, which led to the appointment of PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane as prime minister after early elections and constitutional changes.

Benkirane has been struggling to form a new coalition since July after five ministers from the nationalist Istiqlal party, his former coalition partner, resigned accusing the PJD of hurting the poor by reducing subsidies.

A new government is expected to be named in the coming days after tough talks with the National Rally of Independents, a liberal party seen as close to the king, which has the third largest parliamentary group after the PJD and Istiqlal.

Analysts believe the royal palace, ill at ease sharing power with an Islamist group, may have backed Istiqlal’s defection and encouraged the RNI to squeeze Benkirane in order to weaken the PJD-led government.

Slaheddine Mezouar, the head of the RNI who is aiming for the finance ministry according to local media, and Benkirane denied there had been any interference in their negotiations.

The International Monetary Fund has urged the government to cut subsidies that cost 53.36 billion dirhams ($6.3 billion) in public money in 2012 or 6.4 pct of Morocco’s economic output. The government aims to keep spending in 2013 within the 42 billion dirhams set in the national budget.

(Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Paul Taylor)

Source: Reuters.


Morocco looks to adopt a more active tourism promotion strategy to stave off the impacts of regional turmoil.

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Rabat – 30/09/11

It has been a tough year for tourism in Morocco. The Arab Spring, the Marrakech bombing, the economic slowdown and the fact that Ramadan coincided with August all took a heavy toll on the sector, Tourism Minister Yasser Znagui said last week.

The sector growth dropped by 6% in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year. Znagui admitted that the growth was weak but added that it was higher than the global average of 4.5%.

Despite a downward trend, Morocco fared better this year than other North African countries. Tunisia witnessed a decrease in tourist arrivals by more than a third, and Egyptian tourism fell by 60%.

“Morocco is the only tourist destination in the region that came away with its head held high in 2011 despite a difficult situation marked in particular by the Arab revolutions,” the tourism minister said on September 21st at Top Resa, France’s biggest tourism fair.

Sociologist Amine Mrabti echoed the sentiment. The Arab world is perceived as a uniform whole by Westerners, he said, and events in one country affect the others on all levels.

Many industry insiders were disappointed with the figures. Ramadan, the beginning of the school year and regional turmoil have impacted tourism, said travel agent Mohamed Charrati.

“A lot of people opted to postpone their travels,” he said. “We’ve coped so far, but we fear the worst. Officials must come up with effective and fast solutions to support us and turn things around.”\

Domestic tourism should be encouraged by means of attractive offers, said economist Moha Zaki, and Morocco’s strategy on advertising in foreign countries should be reconsidered.

The tourism ministry vowed to ramp up its advertising campaign. The focal point will be the country’s diversity, with various aspects to be promoted to potential visitors: the seaside, rural Morocco, ecotourism, mountains, the desert and so on. The campaign will target the traditional markets of Western Europe.

Source: Magharebia.



Moroccans rallied in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangier on Sunday (September 25th), following a call for demonstrations by the February 20 Movement, Yabiladi reported. The Casablanca protest, which demanded political reforms and anti-corruption measures, drew some 10,000 people. In Rabat, some 1,000 people demonstrated for the release of political prisoners, including young rapper Mouad Al-Haqed, who was arrested on September 10th.

Source: Magharebia.

Mon Sep 26, 2011

Thousands of Moroccans have once again taken to the streets to call for deep political changes despite recent reforms aimed at curbing powers of King Mohammed VI.

The demonstrations were held in the country’s biggest city of Casablanca as well as in Tangiers, Marrakesh and the capital city of Rabat on Sunday, AFP reported.

The demonstrations were organized by the February 20 movement, named after the date Moroccans, inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, first began their anti-government protests.

Protesters urged the government to fight corruption and called for “more social justice.

Demonstrators in Rabat also called for the release of a protester detained during rallies in Casablanca in June.

The king’s proposed reforms received people’s positive vote in a referendum on July 1. However, critics believe the changes do not go far enough.

The reforms include the transfer of some of the powers of the king to the prime minister and the parliament, but the king will remain the head of state and the military as well as the highest religious authority in the country.

The Moroccan government has announced that the country’s parliamentary elections will be held in November.

Source: PressTV.