By Rachid Touhtou
By Rachid Touhtou
Morocco World News
Rabat, August 8, 2013
Despite the revocation of the royal pardon granted to the Spanish rapist, social media activists are still calling for mobilizations against, this time, the interdependence of justice from the royal powers and his interference in justice. Social movements are mobilizing for a real independence of justice from the king’s intrusions and for the dignity of citizens. Social movements’ activists have been able to pressurize the palace to react quickly and to recant the decision to pardon the Spanish rapist. The political, social and cultural ramifications of this outrageous episode in the silent bargaining between the palace and the social movements will have everlasting impact on both actors in the public sphere in Morocco.
Historically, understanding the movement against the royal amnesty requires understanding how the framing of the collective needs are being coded and interpreted in the public sphere in Morocco. The actors in the public sphere have always negotiated their activism, existence and hence their political demands with the palace. From the sixties onwards, confrontations with the palace had forced them to change their discourses, agendas and tactics. Contentious performances of social movements in Morocco distorted the political culture of the palace from authoritarianism into hybrid forms of a democratization phase which is fragile and where both courting and controlling are new strategies of the palace.
Politically speaking, this is a fragile time in Morocco after the withdrawal of the Istiqlal Party from the PJD-led government. The head of the government is still negotiating with RNI party (National Rally of Independents) to join the government to form a new coalition and avoid both the fall of the government or early costly elections. The delicate political timing of the controversial interactions between the people and the authorities has weakened the political discourse of the PJD and its social base of bargaining for its Islamist project.
The political game in Morocco leans heavily on benefits and costs in the actors’ selective and collective incentives. To measure both the benefits and the costs here, aspects related to organization, expectation of success, new values and the action force should be deconstructed to capture how collective performances and interactions creates contentious politics and hence transform the public sphere.
The social and the cultural transformations caused by the “Daniel Gate” are deeply embedded in the public-private divide in the Moroccan social make-up. The vibrancy and dynamism of the Moroccan civil society demonstrated innovative ways to create a new space between public and private and between tradition and modernity in framing the emerging new values in the public sphere; the issue of pedophilia itself has always been a taboo.
The “de-tabooization” of children’s rape in Morocco either by Moroccans or by foreigners has been a social combat to transform the issue from private to public debate in order to invade the public sphere and create counter-publics. This process of issues travelling from the private to the public has also caused the “desacralization” of the debate on the monarchy, its limits and its roles.
A major characteristic of the Moroccan public sphere is the crystallization of very vibrant and autonomous social movements due to the failure of the state in the postcolonial era to recognize the new emerging individualization of the process of the collective needs and the false implementation of democratization. This dynamism as a place-conscious identity in Morocco among young people through the latest “Daniel scandal” proved how these emerging identities confirmed the underlying mechanisms producing the new roles between the king and its citizens.
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