Morocco World News
Tetouan, Morocco, March 23, 2012
I have attended many conferences in various places, but Tariq Ramadan’s conference in Tangier is the worst. Today, Friday March 23, the Faculty of Science and Technology in Tangier scheduled a public conference for the eminent professor and thinker Tariq Ramadan. What the public expected to be an intellectual educational meeting turned into a scene of chaos and fight.
The conference was expected to begin at 6 p.m at al-Khawarizmi auditorium. To reserve a good seat, I went there at 4.30 p.m where I found people queuing at the door two hours before I arrived; I queued behind the rest waiting to be seated. As the time of the conference was approaching, the huge crowd kept flocking to the auditorium’s door.
The event witnessed no organization as the crowd was unbelievably out of control. Everyone was pushing everyone and no one was breathing easily. Some of the youth chose to hang on the closed door, while others chose to stand on the walls of the short balconies. I was next to a girl who almost fainted, but her friends managed to keep her standing while sprinkling water on her face and doing their best, in vain, to give her a space to breath.
Hours past by while the people waiting but the doors weren’t opened which led the crowd to get increasingly furious. They started hitting the huge metal door with their hands, screaming and repeating different phrases and slogans, among which ‘asha’b yurid fath al-abwab’, which literally means “People want to open the doors”.
Unfortunately, the unanswered screams that lasted for almost an hour led to the spread of rumors; someone angrily claimed that “the auditorium is already half-full and that the faculty’s staff made business out of the seats that were supposedly public.” Another one exclaimed: “they tricked the public to a specific door so that they can give access through the back door to whomever the organizers chose to invite, and then they can fill in what’s left empty of the others who are waiting.”
The lecture hall only contains 100 seats, but since the event was public and the speaker was a highly admired international thinker, hundreds of people came from different cities.
The audience was a mass of students, researchers, professors, and scholars who kept waiting outside, while the minority whom no one knew how they entered were seated.
Asmaa, a student from the Faculty of Science and Technology at Abdel Malek Saidi University in Tangier, said “this is a disaster! We’ve been waiting here for more than 4 hours, and when we checked the windows, the organizers told us that they won’t open the doors because the lecture hall is already full.”
“The door was never opened. We don’t know how the lecture hall was filled and based on what criterion!” she added.
On her part, Sanae, another student from the same faculty, told MWN “we almost fainted due to the avalanche of people at the door.”
At 6.15 p.m, Nabil, one student at the front hanging near the door disappointingly said while leaving the crowd “it seems we’ve come here to battle not to attend an intellectual conference! I’m so tired of the way we are treated, as if we don’t exist.”
He went on saying “we have waited here for hours, screamed and even hit the door, but no one explained why we are being denied entry.”
“Now look at the lecture hall’s windows, there are people there and you can only wonder how they are seated. We are not influential people, and we don’t have intermediaries. We are just simple students who come here to study and learn, but we aren’t given any importance mainly because we are wlad she’b (children of the people).” he continued.
Students went to the front door where a serious series of violent fights erupted between people and the “organizers”; they quarreled back and forth in an attempt to open the door. The fights resulted in various slight injuries with one serious injury of a student who broke his arm.
He was luckily taken to the hospital by other students.
Ayoub, another student at Abdel Malek Saidi University at the Faculty of Science and Technology explained to MWN that “the organizers are to blame. Tariq Ramadan is a very prominent figure who always attracts large audience. They should have chosen a bigger place, required invitations and, at least, made a big screen or/and loud speakers in the big yard to give the opportunity for the public to be engaged.”
“It also shouldn’t have become so violent that they attacked people who are supposed to be guests at the conference, and we can notice that only academics are here,” he added.
Samia stated that “it is so shameful that we are representing ourselves as completely disorganized! I can only think of what Tariq Ramadan, himself, will think about us after all this is over. He attended a well organized conference in Tunisia which was held in the Municipal Theater right after the revolution
She ironically voiced her concern that “we are in a stable country, but we have very disorganized and uncivilized mentalities that only believe in chaos. The organizers made huge mistakes. They are amateurs.”
It was already 7.30 p.m and no appearance of Mr. Tariq Ramadan.
After the chaos, conflicts and fights, I took my way back to Tetouan. On my way, I received a phone call from a friend in Tangier informing me that the police violently interfered.
Many people were eager to attend Mr. Tariq Ramadan’s conference instead of watching him on TV or social media. It would have been a great opportunity to learn, discuss and share knowledge.
Yet, due to a complete lack of organization, it was turned into total chaos. I hope that the future organizers of similar activities, events will take people’s pursuit of knowledge into consideration and think of every detail related to catering events.
The success of such events doesn’t only represent the image of certain people, but also represents the image of Morocco.