Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
1er février 2009
For Gaza, Moroccan Civil Society Reveals itself as a Political Society
Abdallah Saaf Director of the CERSS (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches en Sciences Sociales) and Director of Dafatir Siyassiya.
Moroccans have long been concerned about the weak political mobilization of their fellow citizens as indicated most recently by the abstention rate in the legislative elections of 2007 as well as in earlier elections.
Distrust in the political process, indifference vis-à-vis the political elites and their activities seemed to increase with each election. At the heart of society, disinterest in politics seemed to be gaining ground irremediably.
The crazy war against Gaza has just demonstrated that this was only a deceptive feature on the surface. The reactions among Moroccans throughout the Israeli dirty war were not only emotional or passionate responses to gruesome pictures, broadcast every hour and after each attack by the media which covered the events with unprecedented efficacy.
It was a deeply political reaction as indicated by the discourse, the symbolism and the slogans propagated across the whole country.
These were not mere demonstrations and marches in a few cities and villages. They reflected rather a tidal wave, shaking society to the core, mobilizing school and university students, women, social movements and political groups at the grassroots, from the most radical to the most institutionalized.
In many parts of the country, the Amazighs, often depicted as hostile to Arab issues, asserted their visceral attachment to Palestine. Across the political spectrum, right wing and left wing parties, radical Islamists and secular movements, opposition as well as members of the ruling majority intermingled.
An air of liberty emerged from this general mobilization. Although unanimous, the movement also indicated that no particular force, Islamist or otherwise, was able to exert its hegemony over what is clearly a vibrant society.
The high moment of this movement was the demonstration on January 4 in Rabat, one of the most impressive in the Arab world. But Moroccan citizens expressed their engagement in numerous other ways, on the streets, everyday, inside their homes and in their souls.
Has Gaza ushered in a revival of politics ? Not quite. This is more a reflection of political awareness that is deeply ingrained and was waiting for a historic moment to resurface.