RABAT, Morocco – In what is being called an unprecedented show of political unity and strength, tens of thousands of protesters from various political strains marched peacefully in cities and towns across Morocco on Sunday demanding rapid political reform.
The rallies, marchers said, were aimed at gaining democratic rights in a nation that has long been a hereditary monarchy and at times as oppressive as its autocratic North African neighbors.
“We no longer want to be subjects,” said Abdelilah Benabdeslam, a leader of the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights. “We want to be citizens.”
Even state television reported on the protests, though it also gave equal coverage to tiny bands of pro-government demonstrators praising King Mohammad VI.
Demonstrations broke out in Rabat, the capital, as well as the business hub of Casablanca, the cities of Marrakech, Tangiers, Fez, Agadir and smaller towns and villages, according to activists and photographs and video posted to social media websites.
Human rights groups, various leftist and Islamist factions, trade unionists and advocates for the rights of those speaking the Berber language took part.
Almost all protesters interviewed said they wanted political change but not a revolution. “The people want a new constitution,” they chanted. “This is a new Morocco.”