Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy 1 year anniversary, Feb. 20th Movement!

A year ago yesterday marked the beginning of what is now known as the "February 20th Movement" in Morocco. Inspired by its neighbors in Tunisia and across the MENA region, the "February 20th Movement" was born as a way for Moroccans to stand up against the stagnation and corruption of the current government while not calling for a complete regime change. Within the last year the King has responded to these protests by calling for a new government, and within the last few months the Moroccan people have been waiting patiently as the process takes shape.

An article published in the New York Times yesterday titled "Moroccan Protests One Year On" adequately sums up the situation the Moroccan people find themselves in one year after it all began.

Still, while the uprising of Morocco’s youth brought concessions that unions and human rights groups had failed to obtain in the previous decade, observers say that the real victory is a widespread awakening of political awareness.
“For the first time there is clearly a counterbalance to power — the people,” said Abdellah Tourabi, a researcher at the Paris Institute of Political Studies who specializes in Islamic movements in Morocco. “The ‘street’ has become a true political player.”

Yesterday in Rabat I was expecting to see large protests or public celebrations in honor of the one-year anniversary. Of course, there were large protests in particular areas of the city but for the most part the city felt calm and tranquil. The activists behind the February 20th Movement created a documentary called, "My Makhzen and Me" and had a film screening in Rabat last night at 6 pm. 

There were also round table discussions and activities throughout the day to discuss the role of demonstration and art in creating an effective political narrative. I am impressed by the movement's maturity by opting for constructive community-building activities over a shock-and-awe display. Though perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised, considering the movement has been for the most part very reasonable in their methods for calling for political change. It will certainly be interesting to watch if and how the "February 20th Movement" continues to play a role in Moroccan politics, and how their sociopolitical position will develop in the coming months as the new Moroccan government becomes more established. Will their sentiment remain relevant?