Morocco: popular rage about to explode, activist Omar Radi

'Unemployment and repression could lead to Egyptian scenario'

09 October, 18:07

    (by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSAmed) - Rome - The twin scourges of rampant unemployment and a lack of personal freedoms will soon drive Moroccans to stage mass demonstrations, journalist and activist Omar Radi told ANSAmed in a recent interview. ''In Morocco there will soon be a scenario like Egypt, with rage and hunger driving people into the streets: there is a potential for violence, and the regime will respond with violence'', said Radi, one of the leaders of the February 20th Movement during the Arab Spring of 2011.

    Currently a main contributor to the Mamfakinch blogger and militant collective, Radi is in Italy on the invitation of an Italian NGO called Cooperation for Development in Emerging Countries (Cospe) and took part in the festival organized by Internazionale magazine in the northern city of Ferrara. Unfortunately, Radi explained, broiling social protests at home are ''lacking a leadership'', for it has been decapitated by repression. ''170 activists are still in prison'', he said.

    Democracy in the kingdom of Morocco, which is an island of relative stability in the region, ''is just an illusion: the people's demands and protests are being repressed. Our system is anything but a democracy'', said Radi, who also served as vice president of anti-globalization association Attac Maroc. Among those arrested is journalist Ali Anouzla, editor of the Lakome website. He was put behind bars on charges of apology of terrorism on September 17, after publishing a video made by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb through a link to an article in Spanish daily El Pais. He is scheduled to appear before a judge on October 22, and risks six years in prison if convicted. In a recent editorial about his case, the Washington Post newspaper said that King Mohammed VI's initially reformist stance following the spring 2011 uprisings - including constitutional changes and parliamentary elections that brought a moderate Islamist party to power - is being replaced by a return to ''autocratic practices''.

    The king never relaxed control over the army and the judiciary, and arresting a journalist while legitimately exercising his profession is a blatant attempt to ''punish'' him for brave reporting that is critical of the monarchy, the Post opined.

    Morocco was also in the spotlight recently when authorities arrested a teenage couple for posting a photo of themselves kissing on Facebook.

    The two kids are out on bail and are awaiting trial, but the issue of personal rights - such as that of not fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which is being promoted by the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties - is not the only reason for discontent, Radi said.

    Unemployment, which is officially under 10% but which is reportedly three times as high among young people, is fomenting almost daily protests in the capital, Rabat. About 2,000 people took to the streets on Sunday, according to AP news agency.

    ''Many people lack access to social and health care services'', while the cost of living is ever on the rise, Radi pointed out. The risk of violence is high, he said, because there is no leadership capable of channeling rising social tensions.

    ''The February 20th Movement de facto no longer exists'', Radi said. (ANSAmed).

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