Sunday, August 30, 2009
Reforms and Islamic Radicalism in Morocco
This recent article in the New York Times highlight the sluggish pace of reform in Morocco in recent years. Erlanger and Mekhennet contend, rather unconvincingly, that the king has reversed course on democratic reforms under pressure from Islamic radicalism. With the increasing threat of AQIM in neighboring Algeria and Sahel countries, and growing conservative forces at home, the king has chosen to freeze meaningful political and social reforms until further notice. However, state officials still maintain that the king is still committed to vast political and economic changes, but places a high premium on the "balance between freedom and social cohesion." This is in reference to the massive crackdown on Islamist radicals and Islamist politicians, who are in jail for plotting acts of terrorism according to the state. Maintaining that balance between freedom and social cohesion has also meant censorship and prior restraint against major independent publications. The case of the French language weekly Tel Quel and its Arabic sister Nichane are indicative of this alarming trend of limiting freedom of the press.