The Monday morning after the Feb 20th protests, I commuted to Rabat and made it my mission to talk to as many people as possible about the ‘mild revolution.’ I chatted with my taxi driver(s), the guy at the hanout (deli), a woman on the bus, my fellow Moroccan and American students, the bartender at Chateaubriand, an employee of the UNDP in Rabat, and members of my host family.
Most support parliamentary reform, and democracy, which is what most protestors crave as well. However, it is more a bypassing support than adamant advocacy for the cause. Some cited ‘bad blood’ being the cause of the protests. Maybe people are afraid to speak up, or maybe they are satisfied with settling with what they have been given.
I noticed that not a single Moroccan, save for my family, made mention of the King’s role. The king has yet to say a word directly in regards to the protest. He did ensure the establishment of a new council in a speech to Parliament last night. Although,the council had already been in the works since 2008, even though it had been ‘officially’ introduced in the 1996 Constitution. Thank you, your Highness.
The independent media is diminishing away by an invisible force, human rights are being violated everyday in the Western Sahara, the idea of partisan politics is a sham, bureaucratic corruption and repression is widespread in Morocco. The Constitution is disrespected daily by the the monarch and the Makhazen. The Amir al-Muminin (Commander of the Faithful), aka the King, has the right to declare a state of emergency whenever he wants. Let’s be honest, he has the power to make anything happen with the slight of a hand.
About 6000 miles away, is Prince Moulay Hicham al Alaoui at Stanford University, where he is a visiting researcher. The Red Prince, as he is nicknamed, is third in line in the royal succession. However, he is very outspoken on following a road to democratization. He wishes to “perpetuate the monarchy” because it is so deeply rooted in the culture of Morocco, but he is an diehard advocate of political reform as well as the February 20th protests, as long as they remained peaceful.
He says, “From the legal and constitutional, the monarchy is absolute, but that does not mean that the political system is closed or totalitarian. It is a soft authoritarian system.”
Nonethess Prince Hicham is criticized for speaking out from abroad instead of returning to Morocco to initiate change.
He's also quite handsome.