Morocco’s changing civil society


Moroccan activists formerly associated with the February 20 Movement are redirecting their focus to cultural activities away from overtly political demands, Dörthe Engelcke writes for Carnegie’s Sada Journal.

On December 12, 2015, the Théâtre de l’Opprimé (Theatre of the Oppressed) performed its play B7al B7al (“All Equal”) in the streets of Ain Sebaa, a neighborhood of Casablanca, in front of a crowd of hundreds. The Theatre of the Oppressed is just one of several civil society initiatives that were set up by former activists of the secular, leftist wing of the February 20 Movement after they left it when it began to die down.

February 20 was a non-hierarchical, ideologically diverse movement supported by leftist youth as well as Morocco’s largest Islamist movement, al-Adl wal-Ihsan, among others. The absorption of former activists into civil society has meant large-scale protests in Morocco are now less likely….

Overall, these organizations focus on gradual change and in that sense—willingly or not—play into the monarchy’s narrative of gradual reform. The absorption of former activists into civil society, the fragmentation of civil society into specialized, ostensibly apolitical actors, and the changing rationale of these organizations have therefore limited the likelihood and prospects of large-scale protest in Morocco. Even though their type of activism has diminished the chances of mass protests in the near future, in the long term it may contribute to changing attitudes at the grassroots level.


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