Rabat - Parliament mannerism and language use
Rabat – Parliament mannerism and language use
Customarily, parliamentarians address each other using expressions of respect such as: “right honorable member of parliament…” “If you allow me dear sir, I disagree totally with what you said sir…,” “with all due respect sir, I would like to point out the following, esteemed sir…,” because they represent the essence of the nation, whereby constructive disagreement and criticism is welcome but feuding and quarreling is discouraged and morally banned.
When Hassan II called the parliament a circus, he was dissapointed by his yes-men, who were pitiful in their debates and “acting.” For sure, the parliament was not democratically elected, but rather appointed, in an indirect way, but, even though, he wanted its members to be true to nature parliamentrians not clowns in a circus.
Since then, the Parliament has changed, it has become worse, a true halqa, “street theater”: some actions are condemnable and the use of the language is atrocious. Many people believe that the MPs ought to go back to school to learn the rudimentary tools and expressions of politeness in addressing the other and dealing with him within the limits of a public respectable institution.
Recently, a member of the opposition, accused by the majority of corruption, showed his naked belly in the parliament, as proof that he is clean, in reference to the popular concept that if you are corrupt your belly is full of dough which, is corruption money, and as such it looks big and inflated by this substance.
Of course on a daily basis there are harrowing scenes of insults and mockery on either side, this has become part of the political culture of the country and the population takes delight in watching this live on TV, for them it is the best sit-com show television could ever offer.
The hero of these linguistic prowesses is, undoubtedly, the Head of the Government and, also, chief of the Islamist party PJD who, likes very much political contrversy and diatribes and often uses very strong colloquial languages to attack his oponents without any form of politeness or restraint required by his stature and position. The Head of the Government accustomed to controversy, quite often, uses harsh language to vilify the opposition.
However, recently his sharp tongue got him in deep trouble; while responding fiercely, as usual, to a quip from the opposition parliamentary lady leader Milouda Hazib, Benkirane, without thinking, lashed out at her with the following words in Moroccan Arabic: dyali kbar men dyalk meaning literally “mine is bigger than yours.”
In English the meaning is straightforward, however in Moroccan Arabic it has, in addition, to the normal linguistic meaning a highly-charged sexual connotation: “my male sexual organ is too big for your female sexual organ.” This led immediately to an uproar and laughter within the parliament meaning that nobody cared about the down-to-earth meaning of the sentence, but everyone capitalized on the sexual semantics of this verbal punch-up.
Realizing later, his social faux-pas, the Head of the Government went on to say and explain painstakingly that he did not mean any harm by what he said and that only dirty minds would make sexual inferences of his words. To add more salt to injury, the Head of the Government insulted all sensible Moroccans because they all were incensed by the sexual reference of such wordings by taxing them of sexual deviance.
What makes this slip-up even worse are two important details:
1- Benkirane would not recognize that he has erred and that while erring is human, forgiveness is divine and it is appropriate to ask for forgiveness from a lady parliamentarian, away from any partisan considerations; and
2 – Such a sexually-charged phrase indicates quite clearly that the PJD is a sexist party. Indeed in its first government version there was only one woman minister, no more, and the women MPs criticized Benkirane and his party. This sexism reflects in many ways the political culture of the world Islamists, who would prefer the women at home and not in public office. Indeed, recently the Saudis organized a womenless conference on women (Cf. Your Middle East electronic journal of February 6, 2015).
What next ?
With this last shameful verbal pitfall of the Head of the Government, it is high time, the government set a code of conduct for the parliamentarians in their sulfurous debates, bearing in mind two important details, firstly the sessions are aired live on public TV and using street language, in a respectable institution, means that the MPs are not that respectable after all and will, ultimately, loose the respect of the very few, who still believe in them. Secondly, partisan politics is, in principle, about policies not personalities, MPs are in this assembly to defend the interests of the nation and not engage in verbal feuds.
Failing all this, probably Moroccan television ought to give the rating 16 or even 18 to parliamentary sessions it airs to help the families bar their adolescnt children from watching live programs containting strong language and sexual implicit inferences. Would the Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision (SNRT) do that to protect young viewers from political elite irresponsible and devious behavior? Everyone hopes so….but, most importantly, everyone hopes that the next generation of MPs engage in defense of the interests of the nation rather than political feuding. Amen.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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