By Siham Ali
By Siham Ali
Rabat, November 17, 2011
While the government claims crime is down, Moroccans continue to report incidents of violence and burglary in the streets.
Members of the Moroccan public are complaining about a lack of security, particularly in major towns and cities.
In some working class districts of Rabat, for example, both men and women report being attacked by criminals in broad daylight.
Saida Merati has bitter memories of being attacked by two men armed with large swords one evening when leaving a friend’s house in the Youssoufia district.
“Their eyes were red and wild. They could have done anything. Fortunately I escaped unharmed, even though I’ve had to get new copies of all my official papers,” she told Magharebia, relating how she feared being physically attacked until a man shouting from a rooftop forced her attackers to flee with only her handbag.
MP Abdellah Abdellaoui blames the lack of security. He feels that levels of criminality are rising because of the social situation facing young people in the more marginalised districts of towns and cities.
“In working class districts, the population is suffering enormously from the extent of crime. Criminals with swords are barring the way to passers-by. This is happening in broad daylight,” Abdellaoui explains, adding that poverty in Morocco is running at 40%.
He said it was the interior ministry’s responsibility to deal with the dangerous problem.
Some government sources argue that Morocco’s security situation is not all that bad.
“Crimes to do with general security, which are most likely to be noticed by the public, make up just 4.11% of all offences, of which there were 244,000, whereas in 2010 the figure was 249,000,” according to official figures from the interior ministry.
Since 2008 the national security directorate has increased its human resources, with 17,000 new officers in post. The ministry said that crime levels dropped by 2.3% over the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period in 2010.
MP Abdellaoui said the official figures did not reflect the reality on the ground. He acknowledged the efforts made by officers, but thinks the problem lies in the lack of resources given to police by the state. Their resources, he said, are still not enough when compared with the needs of the population.
“The lack of vehicles and police officers means that law enforcement agencies cannot respond quickly enough. Three police officers in a district such as Sehb El Ouerd or Narjiss in Fes will never been enough to meet the demands of the whole population,” he said.
Driss Lachguer, the minister responsible for relations with Parliament, said on November 2nd that when a crime occurs “we all feel its full psychological impact”.
Nonetheless, he insisted that “Morocco is stable and safe. We must all make a big effort. We need to improve resources to improve security. But we cannot deny there have been improvements in the security situation.”
Photo by: Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images