A video that has gone viral in Morocco takes a look at all the problems that young Moroccans regularly post complaints about on social media, to the tune of Bollywood music. The video, posted online two weeks ago, has been viewed more than one million times.
In the video, which was created by the young comedian Souhail Haddade, he and friends dance to a jaunty song from the Indian film Mohabbatein, starring Shah Rukh Khan, one of the big names of Bollywood cinema and very popular in Morocco.
Filmed on a mobile phone on a Casablanca rooftop, the video opens with a group of young protesters waving their university degrees, calling for decent jobs. Opposite them, another group of young people play representatives of the state, in suits, moustaches and dark glasses, pretending to listen. The protesters air their grievances and display photos of overcrowded classrooms and hospital wards. But in response, the representatives give them the finger, along with a mocking smile.
The stand-off continues with the protesters raising placards calling for a boycott – a reference to the boycott campaign launched last May on social media to denounce the high cost of some staple foods in Morocco.
There then appears a man dressed in striped military fatigues, which bear the words “compulsory military service”, as well as a policeman waving a pair of handcuffs. With no other option, the protesters rush to the beach to try to flee the country in a dinghy. But, seeing a dead body washed up on the shore, they change their minds and take up their placards again and continue fighting.
“I wanted to do something different, with music and humour, to reach as many people as possible”
Souhail Haddade, 18, is an audiovisual studies student in Casablanca.
"It’s the first time I have made a political video. I wasn’t expecting it to be this successful. Usually my videos that do well are shared around 10,000 times. But this one has passed the 26,000 mark!
The video is based on reality – the suffering of Moroccans, as I have observed on Facebook for months. The demonstrators in the video mention the protesters in the Rif region who called for jobs, schools, hospitals and, in response, were clamped down on hard by the police."
In July 2018, Moroccan courts sentenced demonstrators from Hirak Rif, the protest movement that had risen in the north of the country in 2016 and 2017, to prison terms of up to 20 years. Haddade says the noose is forever tightening on Moroccan youth.
"The campaign to boycott certain consumer products, launched in May 2018, has really scared the authorities. In response, they announced they were going to change the law to make this campaign illegal [Editor’s note: on the pretext of combatting fake news on social media].
The latest turn of the screw on young people has been the announcement by the government in August that they were reintroducing military service.
'Stay and continue to fight to improve things'
As the video shows, faced with unemployment, repression, censorship, young people feel they are at a dead end, hence the temptation to leave for Europe. But the crossing is a very dangerous one. Many young Moroccans die when their boats sink. The only real solution, which is the message I want to put out in this video, is to stay and continue to fight to improve things in the country.
There are plenty of people talking on social media about how difficult daily life is for Moroccans. But these are messages are mostly sent in the same way, just people talking to camera. I wanted to do something different and humorous, to reach as many people as possible. And it appears to have worked."
Since the start of the year, Haddade has directed numerous skits and humorous music videos. He posts them on his Facebook page, which has more than 47,000 subscribers.