William and Mary Law School

The Protest

When I was in my final year at McGill, I did not go a day without seeing a protestor. The Canadian government decided to increase university tuition for the first time in years and, to put it simply, the students weren't happy. The protests attracted the police, and there was some brutality and some arrests, but life went on. Who knew the protestors would follow me to Morocco.

On my walk home from work, I pass by the Royal Palace. There are always lots of policemen surrounding the compound, but a few days ago I noticed that the Palace had men in new uniforms, green outfits with batons and helmets. About one minute later, I learned that the men in green were riot police, and that they were surrounding the palace because a massive group of protestors was marching towards it.

The men in green started walking towards the crowd and the protestors immediately retreated. In the end, nobody got hurt. It was a peaceful. I stayed in a cafe until the crowd started to split up, and when I got home, I told my host dad about what I saw. He wasn't surprised. "They protest in front of the Parliament building usually, every Friday," he said. "Mais c'est pas comme Egypte." It's not like Egypt.

I have been asking people about their opinions on why Morocco escaped the toxic revolutions that poisoned the rest of North Africa. Some say it's because Moroccans love their money and wouldn't do anything to put the economy in danger, some say Moroccans are smart enough to know that revolution rarely works. But based on what I saw, I think the true explanation is fear. In Egypt, the military would blast its ammunition into the crowd but the protestors would reassemble the next day Tahrir Square. They were fearless. In Morocco, the crowd obeys the men in green. And I don't blame them.

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