For the past two weeks, nearly 200 members of the “unemployed graduates” movement have camped out in front of the Ministry of Education in the Moroccan capital Rabat. Some of these protesters threatened to set themselves on fire if they were not immediately given jobs in the public sector. After a clash with police Wednesday, several young men carried out this threat.
The movement is comprised of young people who have completed higher education but now find themselves jobless. According to the latest official figures, more than one third of Morocco’s young people are unemployed.
In July 2011, after a sit-in that lasted several days, unemployed graduates in Rabat secured an agreement promising they would be recruited by the public sector this year. Or so they thought – they later discovered that the recruitment would be limited only to those who graduated in 2010. So two weeks ago, 180 of the activists formed “the senior management group excluded from the July 20 agreement.”
The group’s leader, Mahmoud Houas, had already indicated that things could take a turn for the worse if the authorities did not resolve the situation quickly, and he even hinted at the possibility of collective suicide.
When contacted by FRANCE 24, officials from Rabat’s administrative authority refused to answer any questions about the incident.
Video posted on YouTube by amal8fevrier. This Internet user has posted other images, but France 24 has decided not to show them due to their graphic nature.

"We’re against a system based on favoritism and networking"

Aziz Elbeghiti is part of the unemployed graduates movement that is occupying the area outside an annex of the Ministry of Education in Rabat.
Since the movement began two weeks ago, it hasn’t been difficult to find enough people to keep the protest going. But Wednesday, when some unemployed graduates came to give the protesters food and water, the authorities violently intervened, preventing the protesters from receiving the refreshments. In protest, three people from the group set themselves on fire [according to the Human Rights Office, there were five. Two of them are now in critical condition while the other three suffered minor injuries]. And the police just stood there watching.
I graduated in July 2011. Unfortunately the 2011 graduates have been excluded, for no apparent reason, from the agreement signed on July 20, 2011. We won’t be hired by the public sector. We’re against a system based on favoritism and networking, and its lack of transparency. [Editor’s note: According to the Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, jobs usually go to young graduates who have contacts within political parties. Although some 2011 graduates have been hired, the organization says there are no clear reasons why they were chosen over others.]
At the beginning of the movement, Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane came to see us and promised to sort out our situation, but nothing has been done. Another demonstration has been planned for this afternoon. We want to get to the bottom of why we’ve been excluded from this agreement and to demand to be hired immediately by the public sector.”