Sunday, June 03, 2007

Moroccan Monarchy - the last king?

Pic 1: a collage of the heir - crown prince Moulay Hassan.

Pic 2: King Mohammed VI and Lalla Salma.

Pic 3:Lalla salma

Does the young boy in the first picture have it in his fate to be the King of Morocco someday? I sincerely hope he does, but then im a monarchist at all costs. The situation in Morocco perhaps suggests otherwise.

When King Mohammed VI became King after the death of his father King Hassan II, there was hope in Morocco, people hoped this young handsome new King would be different from the old one who was authoritarian, autocratic and spent on his various luxuries despite the slow economic growth of his country (0.1%).

Mohammed had the hype then of being this young King who had come to change the way things were in Morocco. Just how he would perform this miraculous feat did not concern anybody - people just felt the times would change and obviously for the better. He was deemed the 'King of the Poor' - that was then. It was rumoured that the young King went about the streets of Morocco dressed incognito to discover the problems of his poor subjects. All this imaginative hype did much to put him on a pedestal.

However the hype cannot always go on. Facts ultimately look you in the face sooner or later.

He did not have a magic wand to wave away everyones miseries. But i guess he did try to what he thought would be the best course in todays modern age. He did suceed to some extent - for instance economic growth grew to almost 6 %.

He did what his counterpart in Jordan, King Abdallah did, what years ago the Shah of Iran had attempted to do (and very sadly it had gone absolutely wrong for him) - he sought to modernize his State, ally with the western world super powers of USA and UK. In trying to create a modern (perhaps his more traditional subjects would term it western rather than modern) , secular, tolerant State perhaps he has opened a hornets nest.

The successful mixing of the west and the east has always been a turbulent transmission. More so this is much more than just a cultural exchange. If you are adapting the western system of education, healthcare, freedom of press, freedom for women etc etc. then can radical thinking be far behind? Can the idea of perhaps a different more egalitarian political system and the right to decide your leadership be far behind?

In becoming modern he only has succeeded in making the old traditionalists of Morocco disatisfied - His wife is a public figure, she does not wear the hijab , previously no one ever saw any lady member of the royal family in public, now their pictures in western clothes are splashed all over the print media, especially in foreign magazines like Hello who give them a more celebrity status rather than a traditional royal one.

Perhaps they think it is better to turn to the Islamic fundamentalists who would protect their own islamic identity from merging into a western one - this is what happened to the Shah of Iran years ago!

On the Other hand the younger generation of educated westernized Moroccans are also disatisfied with their lot. They are educated and they want more, far more then the 6% growth the King has managed to establish - they want more freedom, more growth, more earning power - for which Morocco has not the infrastructure!

The poverty is great in Morocco, the royal family's luxurious life is perhaps then condemned. People are now speaking out as they would have never dared to during King Hassan II's reign.

I wish the Royal family of Morocco all the best - but they are walking on a tight rope, they are neither absolutely constitutional as their western counterparts or like Bhutan where the King has voluntarily renounced his absolute authority.

And neither are they absolute monarchs as the other muslim monarchies of Saudi, UAE, Brunei.

I personally believe that this sitting on the fence policy does not serve any purpose - The king is trying to make everyone happy as well as himself - its just not possible.


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