Earthquake in Morocco: ‘Here, the choices of the authorities seem irrational to us’

Nearly 3,000 dead: That’s the new — and still tentative — toll from the earthquake that rocked Morocco’s mountainous region last Friday. King Mohammed VI visited the injured in a hospital in Marrakech yesterday before donating blood. But five days after the disaster, questions remain about the attitude of Moroccan authorities. Why does Morocco not accept international aid offered by some countries including Belgium and France?

Omar Brooksi is a Moroccan journalist and academic, author of the first book “Mohammed VI Behind the Masks”.New World Editions, 2014) He remains one of the rare independent voices in Moroccan journalism. Despite the “dangers”, he agreed to answer our questions.

Why is relief coming so painfully to Atlas villages hit hard by the earthquake?

We have witnessed an incredible mobilization of the Moroccan population – literally the population. The real problem with delivery is due to failing infrastructure. This problem does not arise in affected cities like Marrakech or Agadir because of infrastructure, roads and hospitals. But the epicenter areas have always been abandoned and isolated. This problem has been known since independence. Today, we intend to discover these areas that we call “the other Morocco”.

Why does Morocco not accept the aid offered by some countries?

Obviously, this is incomprehensible. In such a situation, you should know that the palace decides that all other institutions will disappear. There are two countries where I can understand this refusal for political reasons, Algeria and France, where humanity must prevail over all political considerations. On the other hand, I don’t understand other countries. I think Morocco wants to show its sovereignty and decide who can give or not, there is a question of pride. However, the priority is to rescue people trapped in the rubble. For that, you need resources and experts. So this choice of officers is not very rational. These are things that we do not understand here.

See also  Turkey does not need to "meet" Sweden's membership "expectations".

How to explain King Mohammed VI’s calm after the disaster?

Each Head of State has his own communication channel. As for the Moroccan king, this much is known: He is someone who is not well-trained in communication. He never held a press conference and never spoke to people spontaneously. He was in Paris on a personal trip when the quake struck around 11pm on Friday. The next day he came back, held a meeting, had a press release, but then, radio silence. This may seem surprising in many countries, but here in Morocco, we are not surprised. It is a type of code. We know that no politician dares to go into the field before the green light of the palace or the arrival of the king. It is unimaginable.

We hear some dissenting voices about Mohammed VI, as if he could not criticize the government under penalty of reprisal. Is that so?

Obviously, there are three obstacles in Morocco, three red lines: the monarchy, the Islamic religion and the question of Western Sahara. You can criticize the Prime Minister and the ministers all you want, but when it comes to the monarchy, you have to be very careful and turn on the self-censorship.

Do you face any risks by answering this interview?

Yes. Fellow journalists are in jail. Everything is possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *