A Truth Commission for Morocco

by Susan Slyomovics
published in MER218

The grim names Moroccans assign to the post-independence years -- in Arabic, zaman al-rusas and al-sanawat al-sawda, in French les anneés de plomb and les années noires or in English “the years of lead” and “the black years” -- evoke an era of grayness and lead bullets, fear and repression. During les années sombres, the “somber years” of forcible disappearances and farcical mass political trials, large numbers of people representing various political persuasions served long prison sentences for voicing opposition to the regime. By international standards, they were prisoners of conscience.

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Behind the Baker Plan for Western Sahara

by Toby Shelley | published August 1, 2003

On July 31, 2003, the UN Security Council voted to "support strongly" former Secretary of State James Baker's proposals for resolving the Western Sahara dispute, the last Africa file remaining open at the UN Decolonization Committee. Baker has been the personal envoy of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan since 1997, charged with making progress in the 1991 Settlement Plan for the Western Sahara even after Annan had damned it as a "zero-sum game," while also pursuing alternatives.

Amazigh Activism and the Moroccan State

by Paul Silverstein , David Crawford
published in MER233

When primary school students in the major Berber-speaking regions of Morocco returned to class in September 2004, for the first time ever they were required to study Berber (Tamazight) language. The mandatory language classes in the Rif, the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas and the Sous Valley represent the first significant policy change implemented by the Royal Institute of the Amazigh [Berber] Culture, a government body established by King Mohammed VI on October 17, 2001, following through on a promise made in July of that year on the second anniversary of his ascension to the Moroccan throne.

Storming the Fences

Morocco and Europe's Anti-Migration Policy

by Elie Goldschmidt
published in MER239

"'Black locusts' are taking over Morocco!" So ran the September 12, 2005 headline of al-Shamal, an Arabic-language Tangier newspaper, describing the forays of masses of in-transit sub-Saharan Africans trying to scale the security fences separating Morocco from the Spanish-ruled enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Moroccan authorities immediately banned al-Shamal for employing this racist language, but the press on both sides of the Mediterranean continued to use terms like “massive invasion” and “plague” to denote the sub-Saharan migrants’ repeated attempts in September and early October to escape from Africa into the territory of the European Union.

States of Fragmentation in North Africa

by Paul Silverstein
published in MER237

Nearly 50 years after independence, the North African states of Algeria and Morocco face challenges to their national unity and territorial integrity. In Algeria, a

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Morocco's Imperfect Remedy for Gender Inequality

by Camilo Gomez-Rivas
published in MER247

"And now no one wants to get married,” says Muhammad, describing the reaction among men at his mosque to Morocco’s 2004 reform of personal status law. “Everyone is afraid to.”