On anniversary of uprising, Moroccans continue to demand political freedom and economic security

Demonstrations were organized on February 19 and 20, in several cities in the country, despite the state’s attempt to thwart them

February 21, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
'February 20 Movement' protest commemoration in Rabat
(Photo: EFE/EPA/Jalal Morchidi)

Thousands of people across Morocco participated in mass protests on February 19 and 20 to demand immediate action to address the cost of living crisis in the country and deteriorating political freedoms.

The protests were held to coincide with the 12th anniversary of the February 20th movement which erupted in 2011 amid the Arab Spring to demand political reform in the country still ruled by a constitutional monarchy.

The Moroccan Social Front, which brings together human rights groups and leftist organizations, was one of the key convenors of the protests and has been mobilizing for the past year demanding economic and social rights for the people. The Workers’ Democratic Way Party also supported the call to protest, and called on people to participate in large numbers. 

The Democratic Confederation of Labor in Morocco was denied permission to organize a similar protest on Sunday. Authorities cited a health emergency declared during the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for denying permission. However, trade unions defied this decision and took to the streets in defense of the working people in the country.

In Rabat, demonstrators gathered in front of the Moroccan parliament, where they shouted slogans demanding freedom, social justice, and an end to high prices, the New Arab reported. Similar protests were held in dozens of other cities across the country.

Deteriorating economic conditions in Morocco have become a major issue for social mobilization, with the country’s trade unions demanding immediate government intervention. 

Due to drought and other global and local issues, Morocco has seen a prolonged rise in the prices of basic food commodities. According to the UN, 90% of Moroccans feel that inflation is the “top crisis” they are facing. 

The government has claimed that the rise in prices is a result of price speculation and hoarding and has announced some temporary measures to curb it in the short term. However, protestors want substantial policy decisions—such as an increase in wages, among other solutions—to address the issue.