The Moorish Wanderer

Bleeding Marrakesh and The Rise Of Authoritarianism

Posted in Flash News, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco by Zouhair ABH on April 28, 2011

These are trying moments. Truly horrifying, not only for the immediate victims, but for coming days and weeks.

According to official sources and newspapers, the explosion in Arghana Café (Marrakesh)  that occurred today at noon (local time) was the result of a criminal bombing. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims (about 14 dead and 20 wounded following the latest reports at 0308 local time) may they find comfort for their losses.

If indeed the hypothesis of criminal bombing is verified, this smaller-scale May 16th bombing is going to be a roadblock for the ongoing democracy debate, and might even turn out to be a good argument to actually shut down pro-democracy dissidence. And even though it is too early to say one way or the other, it is too much of a coincidence such operation (in a well-guarded tourist city like Marrakesh) should occur amid the ongoing debate on democracy, the constitution and its balance of powers, and finally the latest release of Islamist prisoners. I wish I did not indulge in conspiracy theory frenzy, but this ring of coincidences is too better to contemplate.

Café Argana, after the explosion (Picture Le Journal Du Dimanche)

These are trying times because out of experience (whether in Morocco or elsewhere) the voices of democracy, the proponents of open society concepts are immediately shut down in favour of a behaviour I like to describe as ‘rally behind the flag’, a behaviour that could sometimes lead to crypto-fascism. I don’t know if the regime has what it takes to be plucky and carry on with the constitutional debate, but I think all pro-democracy protesters can kiss goodbye to this flourishing freedom of speech we have been enjoying these last couple of months. The trade-off between security and liberty -though a fallacious one- becomes more attractive to the many, and more worrying, to the decision-makers.

As a matter of fact, the trade-off is redundant, the choice is already made, and to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin we have already chosen security and we are about to lose both (if not already). We know only too well the security apparatus: they try to make up for their incompetence and start rounding up the usual suspects; Whatever guarantees that ‘everything will be done by the book’ mistakes will be made, and the infamous Temara torture complex will be back to business in no time.

Can I indulge in some fancy conspiracy theory nonetheless? What if a rogue security element in the Makhzen apparatus was behind this? I mean, it’s not like security services have a virgin history of covert operations. It could very well be some manipulated individual who detonated his bombing device. Didn’t the services manipulate the group behind the 1994 Marrakesh bombings? or the assassination of left-wing and trade-union activist Omar Bendjelloun in 1975? Wasn’t a prominent Human Rights lawyer sued for gainsaying the official version of May 16th?

To whom does all this benefit? How is it possible that Marrakesh, perhaps the most secured city in Morocco (both because of its tourism activity and the large residing foreign national community) could be subject to a terrorist attack? Where are the police and security forces?

An official communique asserts that all police and court investigation will be carried out within the law. These signs of good faith could go further and lead to the resignations of Marrakesh Police Chief Mohamed Badda, that of Charki Draiss (head of Police Forces DGSN) and the Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui; They are after all, the top echelon responsible for security, and that bombing, if it turns out to be what they claim it to be, is a rebuttal to their competence. Times like these could be turned around and actually strengthen democracy, and not weaken it.

7 Responses

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  1. fawzi said, on April 29, 2011 at 09:39

    I see this as an opportunity for to secularists and free-thinkers to make their message heard. Mohammed’s ideology hopefully is turning off more and more people when their noses are rubbed in its gruesome expressions.

    If we need anything in Morocco, it’s optimism and the courage to fight for a better tomorrow. You certainly don’t help with your doom and gloom.

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  3. mouka said, on May 1, 2011 at 17:37

    I personally think that the Makhzen, has manipulated some fringe extremist group, and let them perpetrate their infamous act of pure terrorism. The Makhzen calculus is that now we can shut down the democracy debate and concentrate on the terrorism debate.
    The timing is too good to be coincidental. I don’t believe in coincidences when dealing with the Makhzen. Everything is perfectly timed and perfectly weighted.
    I am not a conspiracy theorist, but this time, I think I would be easily won over by even the weakest argument for a Makhzenian conspiracy theory.

    • fawzi said, on May 4, 2011 at 11:02

      “I personally think that the Makhzen, has manipulated some fringe extremist group, and let them perpetrate their infamous act of pure terrorism.”

      Duh! The Makhzen brainwashes the Moroccan citizenry with stories about flying horses and other bullshit.

      The “manipulation” you speak of is called religion.

  4. P@nDoR said, on May 4, 2011 at 10:43

    As much as the timing of the event, the policital context and the incredible will of some people to keep the status quo as it is lead us to shout : CONSPIRACY.

    You just can’t go and make assumptions without proofs, and assuming that a rogue element of the Makhzen is indeed the brain behind this bombing, so what?

    You honestly think, that our march for democracy would be stopped by one bombing?

    Remember, remember the 16th of May
    A taste of september on this gloomy day
    Burned flesh and it’s time to pray
    Laying corpses, why won’t we obey?

    Remember, remember the 16th of May
    The smell of Gunpowder and the bloody tray
    Justice is but a word, terror is a nation
    A loud whisper, is your fear my only prison?

    But remember, remember the 16th of May
    Lining up at a boul’vard, like lambs to slay
    As we stood, sang and defused this bloody fuss
    This oath we took singing: no bomb will stop us

    So remember, remember the 16th of May
    You and I shouting: I won’t be a prey
    May they blow us up to pieces, may they take lives away
    History will take it that we still stand today.

  5. mouhssine said, on December 18, 2011 at 13:24

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