Babylon & Beyond

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MOROCCO: Peaceful reform as opposed to revolutionary change

April 25, 2011 |  9:20 am

While a brutal crackdown on protesters by the Syrian armed forces is underway, thousands have flocked to the streets in Moroccan cities to take part in ongoing protests that have been organized by the so-called February 20 movement.

Unlike their Syrian and Yemeni counterparts, Moroccan demonstrators are chanting “The people want the reformation of the regime," as compared to the Syrians' call for the toppling of the Assad regime. Moroccan protesters have been calling for socioeconomic and political reform as opposed to a radical transformation.

Consequently, concessions that are being made by Moroccan King Mohammed VI, such as increased independence for the judiciary, may sufficiently quell the reform-hungry movement.

Morocco's official Agence Maghreb Arabe Presse has quoted local officials in reporting the participation of 2,500 demonstrators in Sunday’s march, providing much more candid coverage of Moroccan protests  than Syrian state news agencies have provided of their own month-long uproar.

For example, Syrian media outlet Al Watan reported on Saturday that the protesters in Midan near Damascus had taken to the streets to celebrate the rain rather than protest against the Assad regime.

While bloodshed has prevailed in the anti-government uprisings of Libya, Bahrain and Syria, the relatively peaceful protests in Morocco show that the wave of unrest sparked by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions don't necessarily have to result in violence.

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Video: Moroccan demonstrators on Sunday in Rabat call for reform. Credit: YouTube