Casablanca- Recently in Nador, two adolescent students were arrested after pictures of them exchanging kisses in a public area swept social networks.
The person who photographed the young man and woman was subsequently arrested after the two students revealed his identity during police interrogations. The two students are now allegedly held in two different centers for the protection and re-education of minors.
Initially, there was public outrage principally against the two students’ behavior, which, according to many, was inconsiderate of the morals and values of Moroccan society. Many speculated that the young students’ conduct would negatively influence other people of the same age. Some speculated that the worst scenario that might come about since the two students’ intimate pictures flooded social networks was that other youngsters would follow suit and post their own pictures on the net, establishing “Nador’s forbidden kiss” as a new trend among Moroccan youngsters.
Yet, after the students’ arrest, public outrage targeted a different angle of the issue. The initial outrage against the two students surprisingly transformed into solidarity and support for them. The original call for urgent action from police authorities turned into a condemnation of “a form of cruelty against youngsters.”
The issue is now divided between two camps of public opinion: first, there are those who are hailing the intervention of police authorities as a positive move and are calling on them to generalize it all across the kingdom. This side of the debate clings to the idea that Moroccan society is distinctly grounded in certain morals and principles that are undermined and disrespected by offensive behaviors such as those the two students engaged in.
Those on the other side of the debate are concerned about whether the arrest of two persons who kissed in public is legitimate. Those in this camp argue that the arrest of the two students is a ridiculous overreaction. Such a serious measure of intervention, according to them, should target other social behaviors/phenomena whose impact on society and the individual is much more significant than a kiss between consenting people.
The dissonance that characterizes Moroccan public opinion over this issue demonstrates that Moroccans have a disproportionate concern for the social norms that have for long regulated individuals’ behaviors in society. Many Moroccans are still reluctant to accept that Morocco’s diversity is not only manifested positively, for example in the myriad of dialects and customs found in varying areas of the Kingdom, but also in the diverse social norms that have now started to constitute the social make-up of Morocco.
Clearly, there is no longer one model of social behavior in Morocco. While religion has always been the chief source of guidance in this regard, new models of social behavior have gradually emerged as Morocco developed through international partnerships, exchange, and collaboration. It is unrealistic to think now that Morocco could escape from being socially influenced by models of behavior external to its own while operating the fields of economy, politics, diplomacy, education, culture and so on.
One cannot avoid sensing the changes that Moroccan society has undergone and is continuously undergoing. As each individual now looks to a different model of behavior, be it traditional or modern, internal or external, society can only be the reflection of such diversity in social models. The individual, after all, is what constitutes society.
Looking at the two students’ case, their behavior has precipitated divergent reactions. These reactions reflect each individual’s own model of social behavior. And even those who share the same model of social behavior might differ on certain criteria or principles. By these divergent reactions, one can see how diverse Morocco’s social make-up is. The students’ behavior might be offensive for some Moroccans, but put in a different context, the same Moroccans would express different reactions. Likewise, for those who approve of the two students’ behavior, their reactions might differ depending on context.
The world has become smaller because the social behaviors of individuals who live million miles away from us can change or influence ours. The change takes place at a slow pace and is hardly perceived. Only our reactions to and judgments of social behaviors reveal to what extent we have maintained the same social principles we were taught or personally learned in our childhood.
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