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Booba concert cancelled in Morocco: "This boycott is the mirror of an ultra-nationalist atmosphere"


Highlights: Aboubakr Jamai is a former Moroccan journalist who now lives in Aix-en-Provence. He says the boycott of Booba is the mirror of an ultra-patriotic atmosphere in Morocco. Jamai says the case is not necessarily indicative of what Moroccan society thinks. The rapper's concert, scheduled for June 21 in Casablanca, has been deprogrammed for sexist remarks, according to reports. The decision to cancel the concert would merit further investigation, says Jamai.

INTERVIEW - The rapper's concert, scheduled for June 21 in Casablanca, has been deprogrammed for sexist remarks. According to former journalist Aboubakr Jamai, the ultra-nationalists behind the boycott do not represent all the kingdom's youth.

Aboubakr Jamai ran the Weekly Journal in Morocco before being driven into exile due to censorship. After a stay in the United States and Spain, he lives in Aix-en-Provence where he directs the program of international relations at the American University Institute (IAU College).

LEFIGARO. - Who is behind the boycott campaign against Booba?

ABOUBAKR JAMAI. I have doubts about the true scale of this boycott campaign, which supposedly led the authorities to cancel the concert. This would merit further investigation. According to my information, this popular vindictiveness has been largely amplified by the Moorish, a very pro-regime Twitter group that has 51K followers. They present themselves as ultra-patriots and nationalists, and as such, regularly attack independent journalists, defenders of human rights, under the pretext of defending the monarchy.

So the Booba case is not necessarily indicative of what Moroccan society thinks?

I don't read the boycott of Booba as religious conservatism. Rather, it is the mirror of an ultra-patriotic atmosphere, which serves to conceal the flaws in the governance of the Moroccan regime. There is a rather deleterious atmosphere vis-à-vis the rest of the world lately in Morocco... It is always easier to point the finger at the external enemy when you have to reproach yourself. Myself, a popular Moroccan website accused me of being a French agent in a pseudo-investigation, accusing me of "bashing Moroccan diplomatic action" for interviews at RFI and France 24.

In any case, it is difficult to pin down the overall trend in Moroccans' opinion. Since the 1980s, the country has experienced a seismic demographic evolution. Its fertility rate in Rabat has become, in forty years, the same as in Paris or Madrid! However, the shorter the phase of demographic change, the greater the clash between generations. Add to that access to a globalized culture that exposes youth to what is happening elsewhere, you have huge chasms in terms of values between two or three successive generations. So, even though polls show that young Moroccans are increasingly religious, I am hesitant to say that the youth is against Booba. If so, how to explain his huge success at the 2017 concert at the Mawazine festival?

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The Islamist opposition Justice and Development (PJD) party wrote a letter to the government calling for the concert to be cancelled. Is there therefore no link with religious rigorism?

I don't think religion is the driving force. The PJD has lost its popular credit. After being in government for two successive legislatures, he was soundly defeated in the last general elections two years ago. (A result nevertheless very surprising, with a loss of 90% of its municipal elected representatives, which makes no sense for local elections. I am sure that the state played a role).

In short, the victory they experienced in 2013 was due to the wave of the Arab Spring, on the one hand because the regime had to let the electoral game be done in a slightly more transparent way than usual, and because in the political offer of the time, the PJD was the party least distant from the values of the Arab Spring. But the Moroccans' vote was not Islamist. It was rather a demand for honesty, righteousness, democracy.

Is there then an element of anti-Western, or even anti-French sentiment in the decision to cancel Booba?

There is undeniably a kind of primary anti-French ultra-nationalism in Morocco, but the cancellation of Booba does not necessarily fit into this framework. Already because he himself is not always tender with the France... The case is rather of the type of that of Brahim Bouhlel. This French comedian was sentenced to eight months in prison in 2021 in Morocco because of a video in which he insulted young children. It was the same genre: a kind of exacerbated Arab nationalism, inflamed by the same Moorish group. How did these kinds of events come to a head? This would merit an investigation, but given the consistently pro-regime campaigns that the Moorish advocate, particularly on the question of Western Sahara, one would surely find behind state-funded troll farms.

All we know about Booba is that the cancellation was recorded on a decision of the wilaya of Casablanca. This territorial authority reports directly to the Ministry of the Interior. So it was the government that banned the concert. The insults against Moroccan women that are blamed on the singer are not glorious, but if the state has responded to boycott campaigns, it is because it wants above all to be a defender of the country's honor and national values.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2023-06-07

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