Moroccan Police Beat Protesters, Journalist
Moroccan riot police violently dispersed a demonstration by dozens of activists outside the parliament building in Rabat, injuring several. The protest, led by the Rabat branch of the February 20 movement, called for the abolishment of the annual royal allegiance ceremony, known as the Bayaa, which had taken place just days before. Police reportedly responded aggressively by beating those assembled, including AFP reporter Omar Brouksy who was covering the event. Brouksy, who left with a bloody nose, claims police targeted [French] him specifically, harassing him even after he showed his press credentials. Reporters Without Borders condemned the incident and called for an investigation.
February 20 was not alone in criticizing [French] the Bayaa ceremony, which involves King Mohammed dressed in religious attire seated on a horse as hundreds of government officials successively prostrate before him in groups. Other Moroccan commentators also offered rare calls for the ceremony to be abolished, calling it “backward” and inappropriate for a country trying to portray itself as modern. This year’s Bayaa took place a month late due to Ramadan, but the originally unexplained delay led many to believe the ceremony was being done away with. A “Manifesto of Dignity” calling the ceremony humiliating was signed by over a hundred activists, civil society members, and politicians from the left and the PJD.