Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Morocco: Demonstrations against the oath of allegiance to the King

To celebrate the reigning monarch's accession, an annual ceremony is held during which all the country's leading politicians and dignitaries pay allegiance to the King. The bayaâ, as the event is called, is actually a ceremony resurrected by the late Hassan II as a public symbol of the nation's unity around its Muslim ruling house.

There have, however, been increasing murmurs of dissatisfaction with this ceremony because it requires citizens (or subjects) to bow and kiss the King's hand. People on the political left see this act as humiliating for free citizens, while conservative Islamists see it as inappropriate as it places an illegitimate authority figure between the individual believer and God.

In May, Ahmed Raïssouni, a key figure in the Mouvement pour l'unicité et la réforme (MUR), called for an end to the baise-main, the kissing of the royal hand. In an interview with the Al Massae newspaper in late August, Raïssouni criticised the Moroccan State's instrumentalisation of religion to secure its position.

On Tuesday 21 August, the date of this year's ceremony, a small group of Mouvement du 20-Février activists demonstrated in Rabat against the oath of allegiance. Neither the Palace nor the government commented which is an indication that the movement is running out of political steam.

For more news and expert analysis about Morocco, please see Morocco Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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