By Youness Radi
By Youness Radi
Orlando – Throughout history, and especially during the last century, Morocco has been lauded as a model of tolerance and openness in a part of the world where it’s extremely difficult to find either. The real strength of this land has not been economical or religious. It has always been the country’s capacity to integrate a multi-cultural approach in every aspect of life. A “live and let live” ideal has allowed Morocco to withstand hundreds of years of turbulence in the region, and most recently the devastating chaos following the “Arab Spring.”
All this seems to be at risk. This fragile environment is being put under tumultuous stress with the events of the last few years. Several “pseudo stories” appear in Moroccan news, spreading an unprecedented climate of discord. Although seemingly harmless, stories such as the scandal surrounding the movie “Much Loved,” the Mawazine Festival and Jennifer Lopez’ attire, Femen’s actions in Morocco, the arrests of homosexuals, and most recently the arrest of two women wearing skirts are dividing Moroccan society unlike ever before.
Morocco as we know it is being split into factions: one supports a progressive and secular approach, and the other is still anchored to traditional and religious teachings. This very dangerous turn of events seems to be the result of the PJD, the leading political party, and it’s demagogic approach that riles religious factions in order to win the populist vote. The party’s incapacity to govern in the face of a monarch that is undertaking major economic and social projects is pushing the PJD to draw attention to other minor and seemingly futile issues such as these “moral controversies.” The party is using its vast and efficient new media arsenal to spread a message that you are “either with us or against us,” with no room for dialogue or cultural understanding.
Society’s capacity to peacefully deal with differing opinions is showing its limits in the face of social media and new technologies. Differences that weren’t even visible before seem like canyons splitting the society in half, to the point where the renowned Moroccan Tolerance is simply put to shame with a hate speech that seems to indicate that unless things change rapidly, Morocco will descend into the sectarianism that is destroying millions of lives in the Middle East and North Africa.
It is time Moroccans put aside these differences that have never been part of our culture. It is certainly the time to preserve unity in the face of what is happening around us and not dive into an empty rhetoric that can only divide the population and lead to something no one wants.
As Bertrand Russell said: “Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.”
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