What Will Happen if Moroccans Take to the Streets?

Jamal thinks that although the ingredients for an uprising similar to that which happened in Tunisia and Egypt are present in Morocco, it is unlikely the monarchy will be challenged when the revolution comes.


Jamal Elabiad is a writer and teacher. 38 comments

Monday, February 7th, 2011

What will happen if Moroccans take to the streets to call for political change? I asked myself this question while watching on Al Jazeera and other TV channels what is happening in Egypt and what happened in Tunisia two weeks ago.

The Tunisians managed to put an end to the twenty-three-year-rule of their president, and the Egyptians are on the verge of doing the same after more than 30 years of dictatorship. It’s beyond doubt that the reasons both nations decided to revolt against their rulers do exist in Morocco. Poverty, unemployment, nepotism, and high food prices are just examples in point.

Protests in Morocco, however, will not lead to the removal of the monarchy for several reasons. One is that most Moroccans know quite well that today’s monarchy is much better than what it was in the past when it comes to human rights, freedom of the press, corruption and so on. Add to this that Moroccans are well aware of the fact that the fall of the monarchy will surely lead to bloody tribal conflicts. Think of Iraq! In brief, the monarchy is not to blame for the social maladies Moroccans have been suffering from for too long.

It’s the government that will fall if the revolution comes to Morocco simply because most of its ministers have done almost nothing to solve Moroccans’ serious problems. Take unemployment as an example. The government did not take any action to fix this problem though several jobless graduates set themselves on fire (graphic video – viewer discretion is advised) last year in Rabat. And it’s only when Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali fled his country that our government started to address the joblessness of graduates in Morocco.

It’s also the ruling Istiqlal party that Moroccans will overthrow due to the fact that it only serves the interests of the Fasi families (wealthy families mostly from the city of Fez who are close to the power) and those closest to them around Morocco. To know how many people of high social and political rank belong to the Fasi families, read what a young Moroccan blogger wrote recently:

The Fasi family is a vivid example to see how crucial the familial belonging is to the social and political ascension. The current government consists of three ministers from the Fasi family: Abbas Elfasi, the Prime Minister; who is Alal Elfasi’s son-in-law. Tayb Elfasi Alfihri, the minister of Foreign Affairs, who is also Abass Elfasi’s nephew and Yassmina Baddou, the minister of Health, whose father Abd Rahmane Badou, was a minister in the 70s.

The other fortunate Fasis occupy no less sensitive positions. Yassmina Badou’s husband, Ali Elfasi Elfihri, is both the General Director of the National Water and Electricity Agency and the President of the Moroccan ROyal Fedération. He is also the brother of Tayb Elfasi Elfihri and Othman Fasi Elfihri, the General Director of the Société Nationale des Autoroutes du Maroc. And all the three lucky men are Abass Elfasi’s nephews.

The people want to overthrow the Fasi government!” This is one of the slogans Moroccans will chant when the uprising knocks their doors.

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Posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011

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38 comments on “What Will Happen if Moroccans Take to the Streets?”

  1. Dear colleague,

    We may agree on many points of what have been said in this article, the fact that monarchy might be the only regime to preserve stability in Morocco etc

    But some of what you present as Facts may not be so, and need justification instead of being said this easily !

    Can you please explain how “In brief, the monarchy is not to blame for the social maladies Moroccans have been suffering from for too long.” ? You mean that Morocco is a parliamentary monarchy where the king is not involved in political decisions so only the government is to be blamed ?

    • Lbadikho,

      My point is that nobody can deny what the monarchy has done so far to combat poverty, unemployment, corruption, and all the other social ills, but there are lobbies in Morocco whose interests will be in danger if Morocco becomes a democracy in the full sense of the word. The Fasi families across Morocco are an example in point. Those lobbies including the Fasi families have done all in their power to keep Morocco as it is/was. Think of how many ministers are of Fez origin. If the revolution comes to Morocco, those lobbies will be the first to be toppled.


      • Manus McManus

        You must be joking. The Monarchy has made of Morocco its own property. I think when the royal family stops being the biggest and most powerful corrupt lobby in Morocco we can talk about others. This policy of divide and rule is really outdated. It was Sidi-Kacem, then Al Awbach , then Oujda, now Fes. Who is next? There is nobody to blame but al Mekhzen and M6 period

  2. i m not convinced, friend. u treated only the problem of employment and u mention other problems but u give no evidence. i know many graduated poeple who were boycotting in front of the parliament and to whom the government finds jobs. so we should not expect that all graduated poeple will work within the state institutions. please do not look at the dark side.

    • Public institutions,ministers,wilayat etc are the reason why Morocco is bankrupt and the main reason why things will not end well.
      Moroccan governemtn has to pay Those public employees salaries,benefits,pensions and the cost is going in one direction HIGHER
      Morocco just borrowed a 1billion in Dollar back in December of 2010 from European insitutions not to mention the amount of money the Governemtn borrows from Moroccan banks/companies.
      Reuters just mentioned 2 days ago that Morocco is looking to Borrow 2.1billion from foreign institutions and another 3-4 billion from Local inssitution.
      Mezwar finance minister ‘s budget accounted for oil prices = 75 but in internationl market it’s already 91 $ and it can go up even higher with what s going on in Egypt which means Morocco has to borrow more.
      Wheat ,sugar,rice,corn etc ‘s prices are higher every day and they doubled in prices during last 3 years which means more borrowing for Morocco to satisfy 32 million hungry Moroccans.

      When the shit hits the fan,The king and his cronies will be the first ones to leave and leave all Moroccans killing one another
      take my word

      • Belkhir,

        I totally agree with that it’s only when the monarchy leaves the country that Moroccans will start killing one another. But that’s one of the reasons why the Monarchy in Morocco had better stay in its place. I can say with confidence that most Moroccans are well aware of this fact.


    • Btissam,

      I am sorry to say that the graduated people you know and to whom the government finds jobs are just the exception that proves the rule. The rule of high unemployment in Morocco.

      I confess that I started seeing dark everywhere in Morocco soon after I boycotted watching Moroccan national TV channels 2M and RTM!!!!!!


  3. Salam Jamal,

    Don’t be so sure; who predicted that a single event in Tunisia will lead people to snap out of 23 years of fear.
    Who predicted that the Initial protest in Egypt back on the 25th of January will become what we watch a week later.
    Things might not happen in Morocco not because of the reason you stated but because the majority of Moroccans ignore the meaning of freedom therefore they will never seek it.
    I see Moroccans complaining every day about high prices,corruption,lousy schools, corrupt Gov,aking busy running his businesses and appointed his buddies,prostitution,military spending,lack of education,lack of healthcare,lack of affordable housing, etc but they still say nehdmo lah.

    Moroccans are selfish;they don’t think of the future generations who will pay dearly for the lack of actions by their parents. Future generation will pay dearly for the Debt incurred by the current Gov just wait and see.
    It will take 2 years or even less of draught for Moroccans to rise up because all they care about is khoubz (bred).
    Morocco like the other Arab countries imported lot of wheat in recent years. Morocco Import 95% of its energy.
    Did you ask yourself what will happen if OIL prices turn to 150 this year? what happens if there is no rain for couple of years? What happens if -Moroccans living abroad can’t afford to send the -7-10 ilions to Moroccan banks who already unsolvents.
    What happens if tourists decide not to visit Morocco for one reason or another?
    We have MREs remittences account for almost 10 % of GDP. Tourisms account for another 10% .if they are affected just slightly Moroccan economy will suffer.
    We borrow Money in Morocco to build stadiums and pay for Foreign actors/musicians ‘s vacation while we fail to invest in education to keep Moroccan youth lost and never think about revolting like tunisians & egyptians.

    • Belkhir,

      Wrong are those who think that the Tunisians and the Egyptians revolted against dictatorship because they are more educated than the other Arab peoples. If so, Why the Tunisians did not revolt against their ruler ten or fifteen years ago? For me, Arab peoples decided to topple their rulers or they are contemplating doing so simply because they lost patience and got fed up with the lies and false promises of their governors. More importantly, Arab peoples have tried vainly to all means of protests. But uprising was their last resort. The revolution has led so far to the overthrow of two Arab dictators. And the question most Arabs are asking right now is Who is next?


      • I disagree. An educated populace is more likely to rebel than an uneducated one. Only fools fall for the “pie in the sky” used by priests and imams to control people.

        It takes an educated person to know they’re not free in the first place.

      • I fully endorse Samira’s position and it could not have been described any better. It is sham!!! The regime in Morocco is made of the whole lotof them: The government, the army, the opposition in all its shades, the monarch, the business class ……. are all part of the same dialectic. What we need is freedom and Democracy not more of the medieval feudal system we have had for the last 300 years.

  4. Moroccans are not ungrateful people.
    They’re more yoyalist than the king .
    They’re genetically monarchist . It’ in their blood, in their DNA. They will never accept any other leader but their legitimate king.
    We must always remember the sacrifice the father of the nation Mohamed V (RIP) did for his people on august 20 – 1953. Mohamed VI is his dignified grand son,because that branch is from that tree.
    Mohamed VI the good king is a gift from God to the Moroccan people.

    • I am trying to explain this but I find it hard; I agree with you that Mohamed VI could be a good person but the system itself is not working and may be the generals in the army and the fassis are taking advantage and king has no power over what they do! What we are saying is that may be Morocco would be better under a democratic regime where the people chose their leader and where there is an accountability for the decision makers. May be the King can stay away from doing business in Morocco (he does not need money), and he can keep a low profile and let people be the decider (like Spain and the UK). We want Morocco and all Moroccans to be better not worst. Morocco can be a heaven on earth with the Atlas mountains, the desert, the Mediteranean and Atlantic and the proximity to Europe but it needs smart people to be in charge (not people that are only smart to kiss the king’s hand). Educated People that may disagree with the king but they are smart, hard working and love the coutry (and will be held accountable). We see how democarcy helped the West become so advanced while a majority of people in Morocco are still illeterate and poor. This will be good for the King and good for Moroccans. I know this can be difficult to accomplish but he needs to try neverthless.


  5. I don’t understand how the monarchy can be absolved of the ills while credited with every positive achievement. It just doesn’t make sense.

    If we’re speculating (and betting!) I’d put my money on the monarchy remaining untouched for the next 50 years at least. On the other hand, the concentration of powers in the hands of the king and his prerogatives are not sustainable…not even for 10 years. We, the people, will reclaim our sovereignty and put the monarch where he belongs: As a mere symbol!

    The Fassis have practically no power compared to the Alaouis. What the Fassis are doing is nothing more than replicate the model set by the Alaouis. It’s astonishing that racist comments are targeted towards the Fassis, while the king and his cronies are protected against any and all criticism, despite them being the center of power in the country.

    • Samira,

      The time has not come yet for the monarchy in Morocco to become a mere symbol. One reason is that Morocco, unlike Spain or Britain, does have parties as strong as those existing in democratic parties. Moroccan parties are weak and unable to be up to the expectations of all Moroccans. What’s worse, all those parties care about is their interests and parliament or government seats, and the bad conditions Moroccans are living through is the last they think of. That said, do you think one of those parties can play the roles the monarchy has been playing for more than ten years?


      • It’s not for you to say if the time has come for the monarch to step outside of the political scene. If you like being a serf, go ahead and put your fate in the hands of whomever you wish! But leave me and other free-thinking Moroccans out of it.

        There are no “strong” political parties because the quasi-totality of power lies with the king and his entourage. Democracy in Morocco is a sham! The parliament is only a facade to legitimize the rule of the king. Anyone who agrees to engage in politics under these circumstances is inevitably a hypocrite and a scammer. If the king steps out, Moroccans will start taking responsibilities and the political scene will be infused with new blood overnight. Educated people with integrity wouldn’t touch politics with a ten foot pole in the current authoritarian state of the constitution.

  6. Good governance comes from good leadership. Spending millions of dollars between security and street closing so the king can inaugurate a 100,000 dollar project is all bull. Why does he have to show up to all these tiny projects that don’t do the average Moroccan any good? It s all propaganda and moroccans like their fellow Arabs are good at that.

    The king should not own businesses in morocco if you want good governance.
    The king and his extended family shouldn’t spend money that belongs to poor moroccans. We are a small economy and we can t afford all the excesses. Even swedish monarchs don’t spend what our corrupt kings do in our third world country of morocco where. Half the population can’t even afford a kilogram of Ted meat

    Get real people and look around you. Pay attention to people who share a bathroom with other families, people who can t afford electricity or clean water, people who suffer in winter and die because they can’t afford to buy wood to warn their mal nourished bodies while the king and his buddies spend millions of dollars in bs


  7. According to me, the reasons that will push Moroccans to the street are: Corruption, impunity, the next growing power of the king’s party the so called “PAM”, and the hegemony of the Fassi Fihri family (not Fassis).

  8. So tell me Mr. Jamal; how did you come up with the conclusion that Moroccans will start killing one another once the monarchy is no longer in Morocco?
    Are Moroccan Savages? and if they are whose to blame ? isn’t your king responsible ?isn’t his policies to keep people afraid and ignorant of what’s out there.
    why does your kings and his cronies send their kids overseas for study and healthcare while bouzebal has to use the public garbage.
    Who is responsible for appointing education ministers ?in fact all ministers
    Who is in charge of the country where connections can get some choosen people a well paid job (sometimes 3)while regular citizens (bouzebal)have to suffer.
    who is investing in hotels and brottels where our young kids end up working for few dirhams selling their bodies to entertain th choosen people?
    why do we need to waste billions of dollars just to catering to the king ,his family, the palaces,the parties, etc; don’t you think that poor people deserve it more?? I guess let;s burn poor people so the king can stay warm right?

    It’s people like with all my respect who keep Morocco behind.
    It’s people like who can’t take a stand and be in charge of their destiny. It’s people like you who allow a business man and his family controls eveything about the country. the king is nothing but a businessman if you can see that; which i doubt

  9. I am sorry to say so, but your article is racist, plain and simple… it’s comfronting moroccans against each other.

    First may i remind you, that al istiqulal won the election in what maybe the first democratic election in our history. no political party, national nor international observer has reported any governament involvement in this election. so of cours there has been corruption, some candidates brought vots. but the governament was not involved.

    So yes El fassi is a bad PM… i agree 100% on that! but it’s democraty. berlisconi, sarkozi or even worst JW Bush, are concidered by a large portion of there electeurs as bad leader! but they don’t make a “coup” to change them! democraty is not having the guy you or me want, is about what the urns decided…

    For example Mr Driss Jettou, was from my point of view the best PM we ever had. but he got to this position the wrong way!

    You don’t like fassis? good for you you’ll only find them in Istiqulal… you wanna get rid of them? don’t vote for them!

    but make a revolution in that purpuse in a non sens!

    • Hold your horses…the PM is a puppet controlled by the palace. The king hold executive powers in Morocco. Ministers and parliamentarians are decoys.

      But I agree that the article is shameful. There’s a risk of amalgamating the Fassi-Fihri clan with the Fassis (who are pretty despised and often likened to “Jewry” in Morocco – “fouiska” is a common derogatory term).

    • This is not a matter of personalities or the familiar narrative of regional bickering. All the actors in the Moroccan political scene are corrupt to the bone and are part of the same structure. This farcical state of affair was designed to create confusion and give the populous the illusion of Democracy. Alas.!! Morocco is the perfect totalitarian Kleptocracy with a small dollop of theocracy, and the self-imposed delusion of Democracy.

  10. visions of life

    Belkhir , i salute u and views of humanity i agree with u. Secondly wot i i find outrageously is that our monarchy is the 7th richest, surpasses the rich oil countrys such as saudi..that gives u sumthing to think about. so pls. Jamal when u say maroc isnt ready 4 an upcoming unrest, speak for u self. I disagree. we live in the 21th century, we have a big social awareness, this is not medeivel times, No to authoritarian rule! does not suit US! IT’S AN INSULT TO THE MOROCCAN PEOPLE. Maroc ppl unite! stand ferm! and demand u right, Regardless walk of life.It is not all right that vast majority of our country men, has none or less educationel back ground,NO jobs, coruption, undecent way of lifeS, POOR housing, and never the less. FREEDOM!! WE NEED TO BE INCLUDED IN EVERY WAY OF LIFE, NOT DISCLUDED. DEMAND U RIGHT NOW!

  11. visions of life

    we need a new constitution, politcal and social reforms,human right. DEMOCRACY IN OTHER WORDS.
    The monarchy belongs to the medivel times, their time has passed!! It’s the 21th century , the begining of an new era ! Morocco wake up! help u fellowmen u brother and sisters, UNITE, Be ferm!! peoples movement , i call for the POWER OF THE PEOPLE!!
    i call for peacefull movements and sit- ins. It’s time NOW! the entire world is shaken by the north african and mid. east revolt! there’s no other time than NOW, EQUAL RIGHTS! HIT iT!!

  12. The question we have before us is how the Moroccan Monarchy amassed a vast fortune, especially in a country that has no oil, mineral resources, industry, financial services, etc…..
    The truth of the matter this robbery was perpetrated since Morocco became an independent nation.
    After the independence, Mohammed V (and after that Hassan II) appropriated all the Moroccan assets established during Morocco’s status as a French protectorate. Whereas, in most countries these assets were either nationalized or privatized. In Morocco on the other hand they become the personal property of the Sultan and his family. (Does the word ONA ring a bell?)
    After this period, Morocco entered the so called period of “Globalization” ( or the era of “The king of the poor”). Where in effect, all state owned services and utilities were privatized. Morocco moved from a state monopoly to a regime monopoly.
    The truth is, the present situation is the reason why the Moroccan economy suffers from poor competitiveness, which is in return a major factor of Morocco’s trade deficit and underdevelopment.
    Al ikhwan al maghrib dialhoum
    My main concern is the total monopoly of the regime of all economic activities. Living standards are getting worse by the day and what was in the past affordable by the poor is today out of reached by many Moroccans. The regime managed to burden generations to come by debts that absorb nearly 30 percent of current budget revenues to advance their interests both locally and globally.
    Many Royal business enterprises like ONA, a diversified conglomerate controlled by Morocco’s royal family literally owns the country and has multiple monopolies with the support of all arms of the state to literally do whatever they want. ONA today is going into many Global ventures and partnerships with Global players. So ONA has been strengthening its foreign ties. In recent years year ONA bought a part of Laidlaw Holdings, the New York investment bank, and many other holdings.
    Moroccans are simply livestock on a massive farm managed by ONA and other interests owned by the Royal family. Moroccans are a free range livestock, not people that can freely take part in economical activity without the consent of the regime. The rest is simply pantomime.
    I believe that many Moroccans are deluding themselves into not believing that their beloved king is a corrupt common thief. There is plenty of evidence to corroborate these facts and that without the intervention of wikileaks. Not only he is a thief but also an autocratic dictator that is amassing a vast fortune before his eventual planned exit.
    I really do not understand why many people have been misled into believing for a long time that M6 was a new beginning for Morocco and that he will be any different from Hassan II. People gave him initially the benefit of the doubt and believed the rhetoric of a new dawn of Moroccan leadership. The honeymoon period is over and now everybody can see through the facade that is M6. Let’s not forget that apart from few symbolic changes at the top (ie: Driss El Basri) the egime remained intact after the death of Hassan II.
    The truth is painful. Deep down everybody new the reality of the regime, yet Moroccans were so longing for freedom that they were ready to believe anything.

    Moroccans need to make a historical choice today if they aspire to be freeman. A constitutional democratic monarchy with a sovereign parliament or yes I will say it a REPUBLIC

  13. I fully endorse Samira’s position and it could not have been described any better. It is sham!!! The Regime in Morocco is made of the whole lot of them: The government, the army, the opposition in all its shades, the monarch, the business class ……. are all part of the same dialectic. What we need is freedom and Democracy and not more of the medieval feudal system we have had for the last 300 years.

  14. For the last couple of days I ve been really curious to find out how Moroccans feel about the call for the protest on the 20th of this month. Hespress is probably a place where one can have a feel about such a thing since Moroccans back home and abroad tend to comment the most.
    I wasn’t shocked to read some fellow Moroccans insulting those who are planning to join the march. I wasn’t shocked to read that some fellow Moroccan are calling THE OTHERS traiters working for Algeria and polizario. I believe Wael Ghonem of EGypt was called a traiter by the police force as well when kidnapped. Some are so selfish that they are not unwilling to sacrifice anything for the betterement of the whole.
    It’s a sad reality in Morocco welah.
    Some fellow Moroccans worship the king.Not sure if it’s something they ve been drinking in the water or what.
    I had lot hope when the Egyptians toppled the laughing cow and demanded justice,accountability and equality for all thought Moroccans would rise up and not settle for anything less but I reminded myself that 2M,RTM,education system did lot of damage that Moroccans can never reverse

  15. Anyone of you here that is trying to put the blame on the government instead of the palace/king is either stupid or naive; EVERY single decision in Morocco is made by the KING. i.e. When the king holds government meeting with the ministers, they have to ask him for permission to use the bathroom and that should tell you how much power they have….In the current system, there is no rational decisons being made and Morocco will remain a poor country until the day people wake up. The West is better than Morocco because centuries ago they were brave and able to get rid of kings. More than 50% of the resources in Morocco are taken by the king/ the army generals and some of the Fassi family. We are talking about the fertile lands, fishing rights, Finacial institutions, Phosphate, Mining plants. The King will not survive without the support of the corrupted generals and the Fassis and he will not survive in a democracy. If the King cares about Morocco, then he needs to help the coutry becomes a democracy without bloodshed. he could do it now and keep all his money, or he will be forced to do it later and lose all his money.

  16. Thanks for the posting. It seems more difficult for Moroccans to overthrow the monarchical regime or even restrict the Kingly responsibilites by transforming it into a Symbolic King rather than an omnipotent one. The King appears to be above the politics as an arbiter but at the same time he is very much in the center of the political game. This dual identity gives him the flexibility to shun the opposition voices. Moreover, the political system is very cogently designed not to allow any party to have the majority in the parliament, a very good example of “divide and rule” policy. The current multi-party politial system gives the opportunity to the makhzenien forces to say ” Protesters in the Arab world are trying to establish what we had already achieved regarding the materialization of multi-party politics.” Thus, there is no comparison between us and them, really???

  17. Well, well. If the king is honnest as he pretends to be, I encourage him to show some flexibity and give up some of his powers. I fully agree that he has done more than a lot after he took over from H II, but I think after 11 years, it is high time he did some more by becoming a symbol rather eveything!

  18. bla bla bla… bla bla bla…

    Fassi’s are to blame ! No Alaoui’s are to blame ! No jews are to blame… Bla bla bla…

    That’s the progress that was brought by the 20th february movment…

  19. This is crazy too much coruption what is happening to the world today!!

  20. Actually, i think the right question should be like : ‘what is going to be happened after the moroccans have gone out ? ‘ the answer is
    ‘ nothing ‘ they should know that even the ‘richiest ‘ countries do suffer from unemployment , low paying and that sort of things.. why dont we compare ourselves to our neighbours ? they dont have a monarchie and we can see what the people are being through.. worse living conditions , bloodbaths and the petrols’ money is just being sucked by others … let’s comeback to the 70s 80s 90s could someone say a word about the system or did people know what the system is ? no because we knew that the underground would be the result. So is this how we reward our new king ? going mad on the streets ( immitating the others ) and keep critisizing him ? for god sake Moroccans your country is the best in africa. the king who you’d like him to be just a symbole pleas do a research on him and see if he’s able to rule Morocco or not .. finaly i conclude this by a question : what’s Morocco like after 10 years of Mohammed the 6th and what’s libya like after 42 years of col gaddafi ?
    Ahmed yahyai

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