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The Lost Voice of the People

Posted by on November 8, 2012

In the early to mid 1800s a man named Alexis de Tocqueville stepped foot on the shores of the infant United States and took a historical account of the government of the United States and its various functions. One the most outstanding aspects that came to De Tocqueville’s attention was the amount of power that the people had and how they were able to use that power to dictate their own lives through the government of the United States, at the federal and state levels. This government, commonly known as Democracy, has been used throughout many, many centuries with political thinkers critiquing and elaborating on how the people, not the state, truly control how the government functions. I believe as Americans, we take this aspect for granted on a daily basis. Although with the evolution of American government power has become more centralized and with the Two- party system the people, in a holistic sense, has less power than they did when the United States was born. However, the people do have a large amount of power at the grassroots level from town hall meetings to state elections. The foundation laid out for the people by America’s founding fathers is effectively in practice today.

Through my observations and with talking with the local Moroccans the freedom and voice of the people is strictly limited. If you were to look up what type of government Morocco had you would find that Morocco would be labeled as a constitutional monarchy. In the de jure or in the official sense, yes, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy they have a monarch and they have a constitution; however in the de facto sense Morocco is an absolute monarchy with the king making all of the governmental decisions. As a person coming from a society where the freedom of choice is a core value it is confusing that a society can accept such a backwards, unprogressive system of government. Mind you that this is only my opinion, but I believe that my opinion is shared by many, not just Americans but with people across the globe. Through talking with Moroccan, specifically students, they tell me that there is corruption, the king has too much power, and the changes promised to the Moroccan people last year during the Arab Spring have not been implemented. I get the sense that the Moroccans feel that they are between a rock and a hard place with a corrupt government but with no reasonable alternative for change. Even at the grassroots level, elections are based a bribes and corruption with no politician ever keeping his word. However, what is probably more shocking to me is that even though the Moroccan “government” is riddled with corruption, the people (most of them at least) are happy and content. I ask why, and my Moroccan friends tell me that they rather have safety and security even if it means not having a voice in the government. I could not disagree more mainly because I feel that it is a fundamental human right for a person to make decisions on matters that affect them.

However, one thing that the Moroccans did say is that for any change to happen it would have occurred from the bottom-up with improvements in education which would improve the social infrastructure, economy, and the overall state of living in Morocco. It is ideas like these that give me hope that change is possible in Morocco, however in my opinion, it’s very unlikely in the near future. The reason I say this is due to the fact that Morocco is an Islamic society with many rules and practices coming from the Quran. Now, I would like to stress that I have no personal problems with Islam, I have many friends who are Muslim and that it is a very interesting religion to study. My disagreement with the Islamic government is that I firmly believe that the church/religion and the state should be two separate entities which should never collide with each other. Again, this is my western/American thought process coming through, but I have to ask the question: “Is progress possible if a society’s laws and structure is based on a religious pretext?” I think along with governmental backwardness, a government with a lot of religious influence prohibits the freedom of choice. Allow me to elaborate with the example of choosing ones religion in Morocco. Contrary to what most people say being a Christian or a Jew is very difficult and it is even more difficult to be an atheist or an agnostic in this society. Recently, I met someone who was atheist, in fact the first Moroccan atheist that I’ve met, and he told me to be an open atheist was very dangerous and can be punishable by death. I was a bit shocked to hear this but the fact of the matter is Islam has integrated itself into Moroccan society to where it dominates the culture and societal mannerisms. My Islamic Society and Politics professor stated during one class that for Morocco to progress, Islam has to progress. For the time being I do not see that happening with the current government. It might seem that I am criticizing the Moroccan government (which frankly I am) but this problem of where the people lack a voice in their own government. For me, I would rather have the freedom to choose than just sit back and let the government make the decisions for my life. Only time will tell if progress will ever be achieved.

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