Unrest in Morocco

by Andrew Stein

About one month before arriving in Morocco, there was a bombing at a location that I was planning to visit, Marrakech’s Djemaa el-Fna, killing 16 people, including eight French nationals and several other foreigners. The risk of these attacks is real but luckily they occur with low frequency, the last three having occurred in 2003, 2007 and 2011. The attacks are blamed on Islamic extremists and result among other things because of poverty, perceived corruption at the top, and Morocco’s pro-western position.

In addition, having similar feelings to the rest of northern Africa, Moroccans have recently begun demonstrations for political and social reforms in their major cities. The first set of national demonstrations were on February 20, 2011 and unfortunately, these demonstrations turned violent and eventually deadly. At least five were killed and 128 injured. Since then, other rallies have for the most part been peaceful. Kind Mohmmed VI has now promised a revision to the constitution; however, these pro-reform demonstrations have still not ceased.

When deciding to come here six months ago, I had not predicted that this unrest would exist in Morocco; however, I was not prepared to be scared away by a couple incidents. I checked the U.S. State Department’s website just before coming, and Morocco was not on its list of Travel Advisory Countries. In addition, Nepal, a country I had come from, was on that list. That said, no country and no city will be perfectly safe. Wherever I go anywhere, including right outside my own home, it is important to be aware of my surroundings and careful not to bet to embroiled in a dangerous situation.  It is also important not to live in fear and let that fear prevent me from seeing and experiencing things. I decided not to alter my trip to avoid Morocco and now as my Moroccan adventure comes to a close, I am very happy with that decision.