At Two Year Anniversary, Morocco Protest Movement Dwindles
Activists in Morocco yesterday marked the second anniversary of the founding of the February 20 Movement by protesting outside parliament and calling for the release of political prisoners, dignity and freedom. Some 800 people participated in the evening protest, and a smaller rally held in Casablanca drew nearly 300 protesters. Born out of massive protests across the country on February 20, 2011, calling for the king to abdicate some of his authority and calling for constitutional reform, the movement has rallied around the issues of social justice, civil liberties and corruption.
After King Mohammed VI introduced constitutional amendments overwhelmingly supported by Moroccans at the polls in July 2011 and elections held under the new constitution brought moderate Islamists to power in parliamentary elections in November of that year, the movement’s size and momentum has dwindled. Confined to a largely social media-based presence, the movement’s influence on government is limited. “[It is] not based on clear and coherent intellectual and political dimensions, its organizational structure isn’t supported by prominent politicians,” said Mhamed Biygautane, a research associate at the Dubai School of Government. Baudouin Dupret, director of the Jacques-Berque Centre in Rabat, expressed more alarming doubt. ”Politically the February 20 movement does not exist,” noting that the new constitution and elected opposition undermined the movement’s momentum. ”February 20 will never be able to convert a contested political disorder into social protest.”
Despite this, February 20 organizers are hopeful that the slowing economy will reinvigorate the movement. Nouha Johnson, a February 20 Rabat coordinator, said, “We still face problems in the government, corruption for example. We still need change.”