The government’s decision to stay on GMT+1 year-round remains resolute, despite a series of student protests across the country against the decision.
Rabat- In a meeting following a week of protests against GMT+1, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), headed by Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, reiterated that it will not go back on its decision to stay on GMT+1 after Daylight Saving Time ended.
Other members of the Parliament argued during the meeting that it was a “chaotic and rushed” decision, and it directly affects the people.
While defending the decision, El Othmani recognized that his government kept the decision from the public until the last minute, which Moroccans considered a “surprise” move, reported Alyaoum24.
Morocco was set to end DST and return to standard time on Sunday, October 28. The government announced on October 26 that Morocco would add 60 minutes to standard time, effectively staying on DST. The government asserted it would “benefit” the public and save energy, which has caused widespread condemnation. Many criticized officials for not “taking public opinion into consideration.”
Mohamed Benabdelkader, the Moroccan minister delegate in charge of administration reform, said Tuesday in the House of Councillors that staying on GMT+1 will depend on the benefits it brings to the country throughout wintertime from November to April 2019, which may be a testing period.
Responding to a central question about the causes and reasons for the change in the legal time, Benabdelkader pointed out that the decree to stay on summer time is a “text of management” which is not definitive. He added that it aims to achieve stability and not to establish a new time zone for Morocco.
Benabdelkader emphasized that the government’s decision to stay on GMT+1 was the result of a “thorough scientific” assessment conducted by the Administration and Public Service Reform and international experts under El Othmani’s supervision.
Since Tuesday, November 6, hundreds of students across Morocco, in Fez, Meknes, Rabat, Sale, Casablanca, Beni Mellal, Khenifra, Errachidia, and the town of Kelaat Sraghna in central Morocco, skipped school and organized marches and sit-ins both to protest staying on GMT+1 and to call on the government to keep the traditional school timetable.
The students’ protests, especially on Monday in Rabat near the Parliament, witnessed an air of “chaos.” Some students carried sharp weapons, threw stones at each other, and burned the national flag in public. Police arrested some of the students.
According to Morocco’s penal code, insulting the emblem and symbols of the kingdom is punishable by imprisonment from six months to three years in addition to a fine of MAD 10,000 to 100,000. If the offense is committed in front of a group of people, the penalty increases to one to five years in prison.
The offender may even lose his or her civil rights or be banned from entering the country, according to Article 40 of the penal code.
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