Aziz Akhannouch believes that justice is not the only way to stop people from insulting public institutions. He said Moroccans should also do “their job.”
Rabat – Aziz Akhannouch, Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has caused a backlash from Moroccan citizens, who condemn his recent “controversial” statements.
Akhannouch along with several members of the office of the National Rally of Independents (RNI) travelled to Italy for a meeting with the Moroccan community in Milan on December 7.
In front of an audience of dozens of people, the leader of the RNI said that Moroccans should “discipline” people who lack respect for the Moroccan state and its institutions.
“Justice is not the [only institution] that has to do its job, Moroccans should also do their job,” he said.
The minister, one of Africa’s few billionaires, received applause from his supporters attending the meeting, encouraging him to continue with his controversial line of argument.
“There is no place for whoever insults Morocco and its institutions,” he continued. “Whoever wants to live in Morocco must respect its motto: God, Nation, King.”
The statement comes after Moroccan YouTuber Mohammed Sekkaki, known as Moul Kaskita, filmed himself insulting Moroccan citizens and public institutions.
Police arrested the YouTuber on November 30.
Many Moroccans, however, took to social media to condemn Akhannouch’s statements publicly.
Some Facebook users posted Akhannouch’s video with a thumbnail reading “we are going to repeat the boycott” in response to the minister’s statement.
The 58-year-old billionaire is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate company operating mainly in the oil and gas industry.
Last year, a massive number of Moroccans decided to launch a campaign against three major companies: mineral water company Sidi Ali; dairy company Centrale Danone; and Akhannouch’s oil firm, Afriquia gaz.
The campaign sought to combat the high cost of living in Morocco. Akhannouch dismissed the campaign publicly, stating that the boycott would not affect sales of the companies, including that of Centrale Danone.
“Moroccans drink milk morning and afternoon…this is not a game,” he said last year in April.
The boycott, however, urged Centrale Danone to increase its efforts to lower prices and meet the demands of citizens after deterioration of sales throughout the period of the campaign.
Akhannouch also angered Moroccans in October when he jokingly told the governor of Midelt province, central Morocco, that the prices of local apples are “too low.” Akhannouch was visiting the National Apple Fair.
“These apple prices are too low, it’s unbelievable!” Akhannouch said in a video that has gone viral. “The prices should be higher.”