Discussion Announcement “Hirak al-Rif “

A Pro-Democracy Movement: Historical, Spatial and Political Causes

Intervenants: Prof. Maati Monjib (University of Rabat)
Moderation: Fatima Zohra Ermiki (University of Fez)
Place: Institute for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, LMU Munich
Date:
July 6th / 7th

Is ‘Hirak al-Rif’ a new form of post-Moroccan Spring waves? Is it a sign of social movements growing dynamism?

The locally centred Rif Movement raised social justice and democracy slogans and erupted in all of the Rif region for more than nine ongoing months starting in October 2016 following the tragic death of fisherman Mohssin Fikri. Given that, the massive protests causes are to be historically and politically contextualized to apprehend the conflictual center(State)-periphery(Rif) ratio in the realm of social and spatial justice absence.

This panel addresses three main intertwined points:

  1. The periphery-center conflicting ratio

The Amazigh region of Rif has had a significant historical conflict with the center. Often labelled Siba area, the Rif has had complex and often conflicting relations with the center represented in the capital Fez and then Rabat (last century). Considering only this century, the bloody clashes between the Rif and the center are numerous:

  • The anti-colonial movement of Abdelkarim Khattabi (1920-1926);
  • The rebellion of 1958-59 and its counter-attack by the Royal Armed Forces (FAR);
  • The demonstrations of 1984 and their fierce repression by the police;
  • Then the Rif’s Hirak (2016-2018).

The main question to be addressed here is: What are the consequential reasons for these conflicting relations between the Rif, and Northern Morocco in general, and the central power?

  1. The 2016-2018 Hirak as part of a nationwide movement for social & political democracy, and spatial-territorial justice

The Hirak is part of the dynamics of the “Moroccan Spring”. It strongly contests the system. The latter relies not on elected institutions, it rather relies on the security apparatus and the crony bourgeoisie. Elected institutions are used just as an ad-hoc political means to be used when necessary.

In fact, the Hirak is a pro-democratic local movement. However, it has tried to mobilize the other regions of Morocco according to a set of national demands whose essence is the establishment of a new polity, a new regime that should be capable of fostering space for political competition, as well as a new political system respecting public liberties and the principle of popular sovereignty.

  1. Gender force

From the very beginning, the protest brought together men and women. With a slight advantage in leadership for men. This important leadership role of women in a “generalist” social and political movement is new in Morocco. The movement of February 20, 2011, was the first movement to experience this gender collaboration at the top of the leading group, and now even more with the Rif Movement.

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