Rabat - Many observers agree that the hooliganism events that took three lives and made several scores of injuries last Saturday after a soccer game when two groups supporting the same team, which, it is interesting to note, had won, clashed in a war-like confrontation are but the tip of the iceberg. From a field in which supposedly noble values of sportsmanship and clean and loyal competition are expected to prevail, the stadium was turned into a battle field on which all firing was friendly and wounds and casualties made by comrades.
Rabat – Many observers agree that the hooliganism events that took three lives and made several scores of injuries last Saturday after a soccer game when two groups supporting the same team, which, it is interesting to note, had won, clashed in a war-like confrontation are but the tip of the iceberg. From a field in which supposedly noble values of sportsmanship and clean and loyal competition are expected to prevail, the stadium was turned into a battle field on which all firing was friendly and wounds and casualties made by comrades.
In fact, it is noted that the numbers published by various law enforcement agencies are staggering. There is hardly a day papers do not report cases of highway robbery, assault with knives and homemade swords, aggressions of passers-by in main streets, rape of infants and children, incestuous violence on siblings, offspring and parents, crimes against younger siblings and parents, violence against teachers and school administrative staff, extreme reckless driving, car thefts, severe language abuse, and many petty crimes.
The plague seems to strike everywhere regardless of the size and the urbanization status of the neighborhoods. It makes no distinction or exceptions. Teachers have serious difficulties keeping kids under control let alone focused on their tasks. Kids do not only go to classes under the influence of drugs but footage released in social media show many drinking alcohol and playing cards in class. They consider cheating to be a right they would go to extremes to protect especially when they are under the influence. One wonders whether these behaviors attest to a surge in criminality or is it simply that crime is now more in the news and that taboos that prevented talking about it openly are being removed.
As to sports, games have not only become opportunities to unleash the most insulting language against players, coaches, referees and staff, but moments thought of as conquered and liberated territory in which no rule and no law apply or should apply. The recent Casablanca events have revealed that knives, swords and inflammable products can be easily smuggled to the stands as a result of poor and/or inappropriate security measures. Some have even talked of possible complicity.
One consequence of this complex situation is the radicalization of attitudes towards criminals. Petitions are being promoted to legislate and pass punishments that a few years ago no one would have thought of, or when they did would not dare express in public. Claims are being made to castrate those convicted of rape and to decapitate recidivist aggressors and hustlers.
A few years ago there were hardly any students in my classes who would admit they would enforce capital punishment on criminals. In a debate to which students chose a resolution felted to capital punishment, to my great surprise, a few students, strikingly more women than men, argued they would not hesitate to pull the trigger or administer the lethal injection to enforce a death penalty on some categories of criminals.
The discussion of the arguments that she would prefer decapitating criminals and dismembering them with her own hands. When she was confronted with the argument of judicial error and that she may kill people who would prove to be innocent years or months later, she simply said that would have served as example to deter others from committing the same crimes. To the objection that capital punishment may not have had any significant effect on crime rates where it is enforced, she objected that the killing procedures per se were not exemplar enough as their philosophy was to endeavor to make them the least painful possible to the criminal. She suggested to make the punishment, that is, the killing process, last much longer, to cause more pain and to be carried out in public. She went further by insisting that she could severe the limbs of rapists one by one until they die.
Another student suggested we go back to the eye for eye laws and enforce them with no mercy arguing that such a model was legitimate because of the old talion or retaliation law. For rapists, he explained they could be put in jail with other criminals who would practice on them mass and group rape until they die. This form of violence expressed by highly intelligent and well integrated students is of such ruthlessness I did not expect. I doubt that it would have been heard in the past especially from university educated young men and women.
What Are the Causes of Violence?
The causes of this violence that have been mentioned in various discussions of the issue include poverty, marginalization, frustration, early school dropping out, ignorance and deficits in school curricula that do not focus on educating, developing the values of respect, the culture of community life, ethics and citizenship. While each of these may well be a probable cause of such behaviors, it would be hard to imagine any to lead alone to such extremes. Otherwise, how would one explain, for example, that not all the school drop outs, poor and illiterate young people are criminals or do indulge in violent and disrespectful behavior. While one could also think that combinations of these factors increase the possibly that each be at the origin of several crimes, the same objection would be raised. In fact, not all poor school drop outs living in marginal neighborhoods become criminals.
Kids who grew up in the streets left alone still in diapers while both their parents were busy trying to make a living in the far away city have now come of age and are coming out of their marginal slums exploring what the cities offer to others. Facts are that many have grown up in gangs of kids under the supervision and protection of adults who use them and abuse them. The heroes these look up to are street warriors whose ranks are identified by the number, type and position of scars on their bodies as well as by the weapons they are known to be carrying and have used in the past and the length of the sentences they have completed in high security prisons. The achievements these kids pride in are classes missed, harassment of teachers they initiated or undertaken, pockets snatched, items stolen from markets, private property they deteriorated, fights they were involved in, drugs they have pushed, how late they can stay out at night, how they defy parental authority, how ruthless they are when obeying the orders of gang leaders and the hooligan actions they took part in beaches, bleaches of stadiums, and other public areas and while on their way to and from them.
The kids grow up under so many pressures into compressed coiled wires which spring up releasing all their full energy every time they are in situations in which they know they are looked at or they can attract attention to them. In both conditions, they are driven by the behavior of the gangs and by the desire to earn recognition and add stars and medals within their communities. In a mob of youngsters competing for leadership and recognition in such conditions, excessive behaviors are always to be expected. Experts have noted that the harder the competition, the more excessive will the behaviors be. Likewise, the more directly these kids are exposed to the outer world, the higher they run the risk of breaking laws and will actually expose themselves to p law enforcement sanctions and the tougher they will try to look. I use kids because many of the arrests made during the Casablanca events involved either minors or individuals who have recently come of age.
Without having to engage in a psychosocial analysis of these events and of the perpetrators, one can think of the issue as a case of failed socialization of whole generations of specific communities that have been maintained at the margin of education processes as well as of everything nice, pleasant, agreeable, promising and gratifying. One can thus wonder about the extent to which the Casablanca events are extreme cases of persistent calls for attention that have, for years, gone unattended to, unheard and unanswered. Actually, one of the most frequently expressed claims of these young people is the right to dignity. This suggests very strongly that they are experiencing life long feelings of humiliation. One of the most frequent complaints of youth in marginal neighborhoods is that there is no one to listen to them and hear what is ailing them let alone meet their needs.
The diagnosis most observers have agreed on is therefore a set of severe deficits in social and cultural integration mechanisms combined to more severe inadequacies of the national economic strategies that have hardly targeted these populations or that have failed to convince them. Schools have failed their socializing mission both because of curricular irrelevance and anachronism, inappropriate methodologies and managerial choices.
In fact, all three dimensions have sinned when they prioritized political and ideological control thus neutralizing critical thinking, the systematic impoverishment of culture and the total transfer of authority out of the hands of teachers and school administration. The economic system has failed when it has not generated employment opportunities to youth of various training levels and when it has not been able to correct itself against the structural injustices that deprive some while they advantage others. The failure is total when culture has been transformed into punctual events reserved to the few and dedicated to serve political agendas.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy