Screen shot of a video posted on Youtube by casa20fevrier May 29 2011.
There were bloody scenes in the streets of Casablanca on May 29 as Moroccan police quashed a demonstration in which protesters were calling for political reform. New amateur footage appears to indicate an increasingly hard-line crackdown on the part of the authorities, with police shown on video beating dozens of people, including women and children.
Protests are usually allowed in Morocco, with proper authorization. However, in the past few days, the protesters have become increasingly assertive and the latest protest went ahead without permission, raising fears
that the current unrest will lead to further violence.
Tensions have been brewing in the country since violent clashes between police and protesters in February left five dead. The so-called 20th of February Movement has been demanding political and constitutional reforms, in particular to curb the powers of constitutional monarch King Mohammed VI. The protesters’ demands fall short of regime change, and Morocco has so far avoided widespread “Arab Spring”-style uprisings. Many people in Morocco remain loyal to the king, believing that the longstanding monarchy offers the country its best chance for stability.
Three weeks after the fatal February clashes, the king appeared to make some concessions to protesters in an announcement saying that the process to balance power and strengthen the Prime Minister’s role would begin. He then appointed a committee to draft constitutional changes, which will be put to a referendum.
However, the opposition does not believe that enough has been done to follow through on the pledges made, claiming that the changes will be merely cosmetic. Some of the protesters are becoming increasingly outspoken, and have continued to organise demonstrations across the country calling for deeper democratic reforms. On Sunday, when they descended into the streets of Casablanca, the police were under orders to halt any protests. AFP reported that 29 people were injured. The day after violent video scenes of the crackdown appeared online, the Ministry for Communications declared that the 20th of February Movement was being ‘manipulated’ by Islamists and left-wing activists