Moroccan Groups Unite for Weekend Protest
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Saturday in cities across Morocco to protest the rising cost of living, unemployment, and corruption. The protests mixed February 20 youth activists, trade unions, and human rights organizations in demonstrations of around 1,000 people in Casablanca, with several hundred gathering in the capital Rabat and other smaller cities. Police broke up protests and beat demonstrators in Meknès, with reports of protests being suppressed [French] in El Jadida and Tetouan. February 20 activists also allege [French] via Facebook that police arrested five in Tetouan.
The February 20 movement used [French] the protest to launch their #FreeKoulchi campaign, or “free everything” in Moroccan colloquial Arabic, calling for the release of all political prisoners and a general political amnesty. The campaign comes after a Moroccan minister sparked controversy when he denied the existence of any political prisoners in the country last week.
In addition, three police officers allegedly [French] assaulted Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet Saturday night in Tetouan while he did his shopping. Lmrabet filed an official complaint with the police after the officers attacked and insulted him, and took his identity card and some money. “The most surprising part maybe is the fact that they did not even arrest me nor accuse me of anything,” the journalist with the Spanish paper El Mundo said, “it was a gratuitous attack.” Lmrabet has been arrested in the past for criticizing the government.
Also, James Traub writes on the prospect for more dramatic unrest in Morocco, arguing that last year’s constitutional changes that came as a direct result of street protests have ended the elite’s immunity from public anger. “Moroccans may increasingly find themselves balancing their reverence for the king with their frustration at their lot. And they won’t keep blaming the government, rather than the palace, forever,” he argues.