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Politics and Governance

     Where Boys Grow Up to Be Jihadis 
by ANDREA ELLIOTT  November 25, 2007  New York Times
No one thought it was strange when Muncif Ben Aboud disappeared from his crowded, unkempt neighborhood in the Moroccan city of Tetouan. Men are always leaving Jamaa Mezuak, as the quarter is known. And Muncif, who was 21, had ventured off before, roaming the worn medinas of Casablanca and Marrakesh, posing stiffly for snapshots to take home. His curiosity pulled him in many directions. He was brilliant with numbers but would lose himself in novels. He began training to be a military pilot but then changed his mind and settled on engineering. A year later, in 2006, he switched to mathematics.

That summer, Muncif told his mother he was going to Mauritania, the parched Muslim country south of Morocco. He wanted to study Islam. She saw no reason to worry. He was a good boy; this seemed just another fit of wanderlust. But three days after he left, he called home. “Forgive me if I have done wrong,” Muncif said. It was a phrase Moroccans use to bid farewell. He was going to Iraq, he said. He wanted to do jihad.  MORE

      A prince of Morocco, now of Princeton
By Victoria Whitford Princetonian Staff Writer

Prince Moulay Hicham Benabdallah '85, third in line to the throne of Morocco, is smart, urbane, charming, articulate and highly educated. He is also a passionate, outspoken democrat and reformer. This has gotten him into all sorts of trouble.  In the archly traditional world of the Moroccan royal family, praising democracy is indulged, but criticizing the monarch is a strict taboo, akin to insulting Islam. In 1995, the prince went on the record with his view that the royal family should surrender its power to an elected politician. When his cousin King Mohammed VI took the throne, he expressed his displeasure by banning the prince from the palace for good.

      Morocco is more enlightened, but it does remain authoritarian
The Daily Star Friday, June 30, 2006 By Anouar Boukhars

Steps toward meaningful political reform in the Arab world have stalled, blocked by official changes of heart about the merit of representative democracy in stemming the tide of rising popular disaffection and Islamist jihadism.

To be sure, support for democratic principles by the region's rulers has always been ambivalent at best. It is hard to believe that any absolute monarch or president-for-life would willingly agree to implement genuine change that would necessarily entail free and fair elections and constitutional reforms that dilute executive power and empower legislative and judicial branches of government. Even King Mohammad VI of Morocco, well known for his penchant for reforms and his repeated calls for embracing modernity and democracy, has shown no real taste for diffusing power - the structural base of any democratic polity. Despite evidence of democratization and the king's stated motivations, the Moroccan political system lacks any meaningful checks and balances. MORE

     
Feud With King Tests Freedoms In Morocco By Craig Whitlock Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, February 12, 2006; A01

SALE, Morocco -- The monarchy in this North African country dates back 1,200 years and has survived foreign invaders, civil wars and communist plots. Now it is confronted by a new threat: a grandmother who preaches nonviolence and democracy.

This week, Moroccan prosecutors are scheduled to resume a criminal trial against Nadia Yassine, a leader of Justice and Charity, an underground Islamic movement that has become increasingly aggressive in testing the rule of King Mohammed VI. Yassine, 47, was charged last June with publicly criticizing the monarchy after she stated in a newspaper interview that the country would be better off as a republic than as a kingdom. MORE

   Morocco : the picture is not that rosy by Aboubakr Jamai (Friday February 24 2006)

"Freedom of the press has also been attacked. In a recent development, the regime resorted to judicial harassment. Many independent publications were prosecuted and sentenced to pay huge fines and damages, putting their survival at risk."

When asked in an interview about the nature of the Moroccan regime, King Mohammed VI replied that it is a democratic executive monarchy--an oxymoronic definition that reflects the quandary of a monarchy that would like to pose as progressive without relinquishing its powers.

Since his accession to the throne, Mohammed VI has made gestures suggesting a democratic-minded monarch. He permitted the return of Abraham Serfaty, an exiled arch-opponent of his late father, Hassan II. He released Abdeslam Yassine, the leader of one of the most popular Islamist movements in the country, after ten years under house arrest. He fired Driss Basri, the minister of interior considered Hassan II's right hand. He also organized elections that were only marginally contested as unfair. He improved the legal status of women by passing a new family code. He set up a commission in charge of investigating past human right abuses and compensating their victims. MORE

   Democracy in Morocco By Charles Dahan  Washington Times December 29, 2005A clear sign of a progressive, reforming and transparent government is an honest recognition of past transgressions and mistakes. Last week, the Moroccan Equity and Reconciliation Commission released a report on human rights abuses committed between 1956 and 1999 -- the first of its kind in the Arab world. The report details the deaths and disappearances of (808) Moroccans in the first years after independence and during the 38-year reign of King Hassan II, the father of current King Mohammed VI. The commission, formed two years ago, was charged with acknowledging past government brutality, opening secret files for families of victims and recommending measures to prevent future abuse.

Throughout history, many nations have endured difficult periods during which the ruling regime committed crimes against its own citizens. In some cases, these nations have carefully concealed their brutality in the hopes that all transgressions will be forgotten. Some have even held mock referendums to suggest the people simply "forget" the past. In other cases, attention has been focused on past abuses because of a revolution or a regime change that left the victors seeking justice or retribution.
Morocco has taken a different path. King Mohammed VI, who peacefully acceded to the throne upon the death of his father, has implemented a number of reforms. Nearly two years ago, against the recommendations of many, he formed the Equity and Reconciliation Commission to examine alleged abuses during his own father's reign -- and to provide reparations to those who had suffered or whose family members had suffered.  ...

   Morocco's tentative tap-dance with terrorism By James Badcock Special to The Daily Star Saturday, June 26, 2004

General Hamidu Laanigri, the director-general of Moroccan security, last month told the French newspaper Le Figaro that Morocco did not produce terrorism. As far as the Moroccan authorities are concerned, the fact that many of those involved in major terrorist attacks against Western targets over the past year were Moroccans did not reflect ingrained fundamentalism in the kingdom.The bombings in Casablanca on May 16, 2003, and in Madrid last March 11, were both carried out almost entirely by Moroccan men. This fact is hard to swallow in a country that prides itself on its tolerant Islamic traditions and actively promotes itself as something of an exception within the Arab world. Morocco is proud of its long-settled Jewish minority and the mystical elements of the country's Malikite form of Sunni Islam.    Islamism in North Africa I: The Legacies of History Middle East and North Africa Briefing 20 April 2004 This general backgrounder is the first of a series of ICG briefings addressing the range and diversity of Islamic activism in the North African states where this phenomenon has been able to develop most fully – Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. Each subsequent paper examines with respect to one of these three countries the outlook and strategies of the main Islamist movements and organisations, their relations with the state and with each other, and especially the ways in which they have evolved in recent years. The analysis focuses on the relationship between Islamist activism and violence, especially but not only terrorism, and the problem of political reform in general and democratisation in particular. Islamism, terrorism, reform: the triangle formed by these three concepts and the complex and changeable realities to which they refer is at the centre of political debate in and about North Africa today. The role of Egyptian elements in the leadership of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation is well-known, if not necessarily well understood. The involvement of Maghrebis in terrorist networks in Europe -- whether linked to al-Qaeda or not -- has recently been underlined by the suspected involvement of Moroccans in the 11 March 2004 attack in Madrid. Egypt itself has endured years of terrorist violence; few if any countries have suffered as much from terrorism as Algeria has over the last twelve years; and the bombings in Casablanca on 16 May 2003 suggest that Morocco is not immune.    A King's Appeal By Jim Hoagland Washington Post Thursday, October 16, 2003; Page A25 Western democracies won the Cold War by shaking open closed societies and exposing their failures and crimes to citizens who then refused to go on living that way. The great political challenge of today is to induce similar change in Arab nations and other Islamic countries that do not respect the rights and dignity of their own citizens.

Think of it as collateral repair: The coming wave of epochal change must also be driven by internal forces, with restrained but committed support from abroad. The ultimate goal is reform within Islam conceived and carried out by Muslim leaders, scholars and civic groups, substantively welcomed by the West. And that reform must begin with the role and rights of women in the Islamic world. A question posed last week in as important a speech as I have read recently makes that unblinkingly clear: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted them by our glorious religion?" The irrefutable logic about the high cost of institutionalized gender discrimination was voiced by Morocco's King Mohammed VI last Friday at the opening of Parliament in Rabat. He then outlined farreaching changes in family and divorce laws for the kingdom that would effectively lessen the intrusive reach of religious authorities into gender issues. ..... MORE     jimhoagland@washpost.com © 2003 The Washington Post Company    Morocco torn between security and democracy By Issandr AlAmrani Middle East Times Four months after the May 16 Casablanca bombings that took more than 40 lives – the first Islamist terror attacks in the country Moroccans find themselves at a critical juncture on the road to democratization. On the one hand, many are eager to continue the democratization process started toward the end of the reign of King Hassan II, which was given a boost by King Muhammad VI when he ascended the throne. Opposition newspapers and new political parties flourished. But the transition period was shortlived. Soon after the September 11 attacks on America, security forces started to regain their influence as the kingdom's traditional elite – the makhzen began to worry that Al Qaeda's ideas might spread to Morocco. By the time the May 16 attacks took place, democratization was put on hold.     Hidden Agendas in the Sand Ian Williams and Stephen Zunes, September 24, 2003 Guerrilla News NetworkAfter much wrangling from the French, the UN Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1495 right on the July 31st deadline for the rollover of the MINURSO peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara. In the best diplomatic tradition, the resolution affirmed the commitment to provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, even while it seriously compromised on it by supporting a peace plan that would allow the Moroccan settlers in the territory to vote on independence in five years. As with Israeli settlers on the West Bank, these Moroccan colonists are there in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits countries from transferring their civilian population onto territories seized by military force. The Security Council had fought off a similar plan last year, but this time former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's special representative, adjusted the plan to provide for a genuine Sahrawi autonomy in the five years before the proposed referendum. This was an ominous sign for the increasingly autocratic rule of King Mohammed in Morocco itself, not to mention leading to uncertainty about the result of the referendum: one fixed principle of Rabat's policy has been never to allow a vote that its principals cannot control.     Washington Times has featured a special report on Morocco on its summer issue. The articles cover the economy, USMorocco relations, culture, FTA with US, interviews, and may other issues of interest: Politics
The United States and the Kingdom of Morocco Negotiate Free Trade Agreement as Old Friends with New Priorities
America’s FTA Initiative: Stealth Weapon in the War on Terror
Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco, Edward Gabriel
Historical Background on United States Morocco Relations
Casablanca Terror Attacks a Moment of Truth for the Kingdom
His Majesty King Mohammed VI's Address to the Nation on the Casablanca Bombings
A Discussion with Andre Azoulay, Chief Advisor to HM King Mohammed VI
Morocco’s Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs Comments on Kingdom’s Religious Legacy
Morocco Continues its Democratic Evolution
U.S. Ambassador highlights Kingdom’s progressive history
Business
ONAREP is the Repository of Morocco’s Dreams
Domaines Agricole Benzit a Model of U.S.Moroccan Cooperation
BMCE Bank Group Committed to Morocco’s Economic Development
The American Chamber of Commerce in Morocco and its Member Companies are Confident in Potential of U.S.Morocco Free Trade Agreement
CRI takes an innovative approach to tackling development issues
Minister of Foreign Trade confident in potential of FTA
Hilton Rabat Makes Transition to a New General Manager and to the New Morocco
Crowne Plaza Casablanca Makes its Mark Through Customer Service
Culture/Tourism
United States Morocco relations: 227 years of friendship
Be Warned: A FirstTime Visit to Morocco will Likely Lead to Many More
Rural Tourism: “Lifeseeing” Travel in Morocco
Latifa sets sights on Olympic Gold
So Many Cabs, So Many Colors
Donkeys Rule the Road in Fez
Play it again, Sam . . . Play it again in Casablanca    FACTBOX What to watch for in Moroccan local elections
RABAT, Sept 12 (Reuters)Morocco's 14.6 million voters are being asked to elect 23,689 local councillors on Friday. These are the first local elections since King Mohammed came to the throne in 1999, pledging to continue democratic reform in the North African country. Polling stations are open from 8 a.m. (0800 GMT) to 7 p.m. (1900 GMT) Following are key points: THE ISLAMISTS The Justice and Development Party (PJD) emerged in parliamentary elections a year ago as the main opposition force. Emphasising conservative family values and ethics in public life, it was successful in lowerincome suburbs of large cities. The PJD condemned the Casablanca suicide bombings in May, which were carried out by a fringe radical Islamist group. But after opponents accused the party of having sown the seeds of extremism, it toned down its rhetoric. It fields candidates for only 20 percent of seats and has made it clear it is not aiming for an electoral breakthrough. GOVERNMENT PARTIES AND ALTERNATIVES The Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) and the centreright Istiqlal (Independence) party head the coalition government. With 23 smaller parties also presenting candidates, the political landscape remains highly fragmented. VOTER APATHY, FRAUD After decades of political repression until the early 1990s, with a tame parliament and local government still perceived as riven with corruption, Moroccans need convincing their vote counts. Only 52 percent of registered voters turned out for last year's parliamentary polls, despite heavy government publicity. The authorities say they want a fair vote, but irregularities have been reported, including promises of jobs or free pharmaceuticals in some cases. WESTERN SAHARA High turnout in disputed Western Sahara would be seen by Rabat as boosting its territorial claim, at a time when it has been backed into a corner by its rejection of the latest version of a U.N. peace plan. Western Sahara has been largely controlled by Morocco since 1976 but the Algerianbacked Polisario Front wants independence. In last year's elections to the Rabat parliament, Morocco said turnout there was 70 percent of 140,000 registered voters. In Laayoune, the territory's main city, candidates from various parties said there had been fraud. WHAT ELSE IS NEW? The minimum voting age was lowered to 18 from 20 this year. For the first time, voters will elect city councils for the country's largest cities: Casablanca, Fez, Marrakesh, Rabat, Sale and Tangiers. They will each have a mayor, elected by the new council.

    Morocco's Choice: Openness or Terror
By Aboubakr Jamai Saturday, May 31, 2003 Posted: 7:19 AM EDT (1119 GMT) CASABLANCA, Morocco
When suicide bombers shattered the calm of the night here on May 16, they did more than take 43 lives they also endangered Morocco's future as a democracy. Morocco had long been considered a haven of tolerance and peace, and any troubles we had we attributed to foreign agitators. We can't pretend that is the case any more. This time, all the attackers were Moroccans. All grew up in poverty; none had been outside the country. Instead, the ideology of radical Islam came here and found ready recruits..........     The Triumph of Casablanca
By: Anouar MajidBetween one and two million Moroccans came out on Sunday to give a lesson to the world. They walked men and women, Muslims and Jews, atheists and Christians, Berbers and Arabs, children and the elderly to show how national pride and coexistence are experienced in daily life. They carried flags and pictures of the king; they displayed slogans condemning terror; and they chanted Allah Akbar and la ilalha illa allah. It was, in my opinion, the most momentous act of courage Moroccans have displayed in modern history. Just like anticolonial nationalists and Green March volunteers were willing to give their lives to liberate their country from foreign occupation, those who marched in Casablanca did so to reclaim their rich heritage from the reign of terror. They are our heroes, entitled to the same accolades and wisams. They are torch bearers in a region out of focus and a world without compass. Those marchers were also the best messengers for Islam that I have seen in my lifetime. They were patriotic without being chauvinistic, proud without being arrogant, peaceful without being weak, and Muslim without being prejudiced. One veiled woman carried the picture of the victims and showed her utter contempt for the socalled Muslim perpetrators of the act. Our Jewish brothers and sisters (who, as we all know, lived in Morocco way before Islam) came out in huge numbers to reaffirm their unshakable commitment to their homeland and join ranks with their Muslim compatriots. A 17yearold Jewish woman marched to defend the land of her ancestors. When did anyone witness such a scene before? The march was, by far, the best concrete demonstration that Islam has nothing to do with terror. All the declarations and disclaimers by Muslim officials before this momentous day were not taken too seriously by many skeptics and Islamophobes. But this event is different. Now the nations of the world could see for themselves. Here was a shining example of "moral clarity," a perfect illustration of conviction without hatred, national solidarity without scapegoats. It's as if the marchers were marking a new day of independence, forging a new charter for the 21st century and the rest of the millennium. They were affirming that human oneness is more important than ideological purity; that human beings, regardless of faith, are more precious than theologies. God's creation, in whatever color or idiom it appears, is always sacred. To destroy the beautiful but fragile fabric of life in such a reckless manner is nothing short of satanic. No event has vindicated Islam more powerfully since 9/11 than this historic march. What misguided Muslims have destroyed the brave marchers in Casablanca have begun to mend. Raised in a melting pot at the crossroads of civilizations, Moroccans know how to live with difference. Only last week, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution expressing solidarity with Morocco because, among other things, it "has chosen the path of diversity and tolerance." The march in Casablanca will not only confirm this tradition, but it may also become a textbook model in the struggle for peace and justice in the Islamic world. The long and painful road to global coexistence begins in Casablanca. May 26, 2003.     Morocco's crackdown on Islamists.
Tuesday, 10 December, 2002, 08:57 GMT By Stephanie Irvine BBC, Rabat
The trial in Morocco of three Saudis and seven Moroccans accused of being part of an alQaeda plot has shaken the image many Moroccans hold of their country as a peaceful, tolerant Muslim state.....

    Morocco unveils new coalition
King Mohammed of Morocco has announced the lineup of the new coalition government, but there are no posts for the Islamic party that trebled its vote in September elections.................

    State accused over Morocco jail blaze
Saturday, 2 November, 2002
Human rights groups in Morocco have condemned conditions in the country's overcrowded prisons after a fire killed at least 50 inmates and injured dozens more at a jail in El Jadida.......     Morocco: democracy denied: THE GAP BETWEEN IMAGE AND REALITY.
by JOHN P ENTELIS
Democratic reforms in Morocco were among the few positive findings in a recent United Nations report on development in the Arab world. But the country's most popular Islamist party, Justice and Charity, was banned from September's elections.     Moroccans torn by divided loyalties
Published Thursday, October 10, 2002 RABAT, Morocco (AP)
As afternoon heads into evening, a haunting call to prayer echoes from the mosque. Women covered with headscarves and veils shop for supper. Here, amid the spice shops and backstreets of the Moroccan capital, one thinks it would be easy to find Muslims furious at the prospect of a U.S. attack on Iraq.     Morocco: No Break With the Past.
Anton Christen. NZZ Online
Friday's balloting for Morocco's House of Representatives (the lower house of its parliament) may have seen less fraud and less money thrown about to buy votes than was the case in former.......     Local female leaders aid effort to elect women in Morocco.
PATRICK CONDON THE OLYMPIAN
Kathy Kreiter will climb aboard a plane Tuesday to embark on a trip that will take about 24 hours to deliver her to her final destination Morocco. It's the culmination of nearly two years of work by a group of female political advisers from Washington who have traveled to the country in North Africa to advise and train female candidates on the ins and outs of running for elected office and joining government service.....................     Guide to Morocco's legislative elections
Wednesday, 25 September, 2002,
Moroccan voters go to the polls on 27 September to vote in general elections. They are the first since King Mohammed VI came to the throne in 1999 amid local media coverage that spoke of hope for a new era of openness and democracy......     Morocco goes to the polls
Friday, 27 September, 2002
A dizzying array of 26 parties are standing, ranging from former Marxist revolutionaries to the one legal Islamist party...........

    Morocco Embraces Dialogue With West.
Posted July 29, 2002 By James P. Lucier 
According to local lore the name "Marrakesh" comes from two ancient Berber words meaning "Get out of here fast!" But in the thousand or so years that desert caravans, warriors, tourists and international diplomats and leaders have been coming here to find an excuse to linger in cool gardens and pleasant, earth-red edifices that sprawl inside and outside the ancient walls, they have found no need to worry about ambuscades of brigands that once made the oasis notorious in forgotten history.

    Morocco's 'invasion' has the world guessing.
July 20 2002
Moroccans are bewildered by the decision of their new king, Mohammed VI, to choose the night before his wedding to prove his manhood on the battlefield. A few hours before the long-delayed nuptial ceremony last Friday, Rabat dispatched its troops to plant Morocco's Star of Solomon flag on the barren island of Parsley........

    Guide to the Morocco Legal System.
By Dahmène Touchent Published May 15, 2002
    Spain and Morocco Abuse Child Migrants: Beatings, Summary Expulsions of Unaccompanied Children Commonplace.
By Calrisa BenComom, Research in the Children's Rigths division of the Human Rights Watch. Madrid, May 7, 2002)
Moroccan migrant children in Spain are frequently beaten by police and abused by staff and other children in overcrowded, unsanitary residential centers, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today.......

    Red Tape À La Marocaine.
By Driss Benmhend
After months of hesitation, I finally decided to write this small contribution to explain to those who are not aware of what it would take for a MREU (Marocain Resident aux Etats Unis) to get one of their most fundamental and basic rights.....

    The Origin of the Clash of Civilizations.
By Reda Benkirane
Among the many reflections on the events related to September 11, two of the most profound insights come from Christian thinkers who have focused their analyses essentially on the cultural aspect of the crisis.......

    Country profile: Morocco.
BBC Thursday, 7 March, 2002
The Kingdom of Morocco is the most westerly of the North African countries known as the Maghreb........

    Bid to bring Arabs closer to Americans.
Dubai |By Bassam Za'za' | 31-01-2002
The Dubai Press Club (DPC) hosted a symposium yesterday on 'Arab-American Relations in the Light of the September 11 Incidents'. Richard Fairbanks, Counsellor, and Edward M. Gabriel, Visiting Fellow Middle East Studies Programme (MESP), and Judith Kipper, Director of MESP, all representing the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also addressed a press conference at the club. Gabriel, a Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco,

    Under a New Regime, Moroccans Search for Truth And Justice.
October 2001. Special Report By Marvine Howe
Ahmed Marzouki remembers everything about Tazmamart-18 years in the tiny concrete cell, the stifling heat and Siberian winters, the isolation and absence of light, the stench of disease and filth, scorpions and mosquitoes, miserable rations of bread, chickpeas and vermicelli, sadistic prison guards. Of the 58 military officers and men implicated in unsuccessful coups against the late King Hassan in the early 1970s..

    Morocco bans historical conference.
Saturday, 19 January, By David Bamford in Rabat The Moroccan authorities have stepped in to block a conference being organised by a campaign group which alleges that the Spanish army used toxic gas to quell a Berber uprising in the 1920s.    Wives of Arab diplomats 'Mosaic' society in Washington for defending the Arab image.
Regional-USA, Culture, 12/27/2001
The name " mosaic" is derived from a Middle Eastern Arab art in which huge number of fine stone are used to create one homogenous and elegant design. The official objective of this non- political society is to raise money and funds for serving women issues. However, it non- official objective is fighting passive monotonous concepts concerning Arab culture, the Islamic religious values and matters relating to the Arab women.     US justice department issues discrimination brochure in Arabic.
12/22/2001
The Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice announced the publication of the Federal Protections Against National Origin Discrimination brochure in an additional ten languages including Arabic.

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