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Morocco’s silent cultural revolution

posted on: Feb 2, 2016

Mohamed Chatou

Your Middle East


The digital revolution has brought to the Arab world the dream of democracy and personal freedom and is fundamentally changing the Arab mind, in spite of the strong tug of tradition and religion, which has always, in many ways, prevented progress towards societal change and cultural revival.

However, as this revolution is wrecking havoc in Arab societies, creating new realities and new narratives, many observers of this part of the world are duly asking the question: how will the Islamic religion react to this challenging situation? Adapt to it, or reject it?


The millennials are those children born at the turn of the millennium (a period of time extending from 1990 to 2005.) They came to life at the height of the digital revolution, spreading the ideals of globalization and freedom. The Internet is their arena for political activism and social interaction. Their ideals center round: democracy, freedom, respect for human rights, preservation of the environment, and the bashing of devious political and cultural practices and dogmatic religious beliefs.

In America, the millennials have recently stood by the Palestinians against Israeli onslaught on Gaza, a move which is unheard of in the annals of American politics. In the Arab World, the millennials successfully bashed dictatorships during the Arab Spring and are busy changing how politics is conducted. The millennials’ spring of democracy may be momentarily faltering, but it is not dying, it is just picking up steam for future rounds, more fruitful, hopefully.

In Morocco, the millennials are busy attacking the foundations of traditional culture and pushing further the frontiers of freedom. They all have new tools for expressing themselves openly: PCs, phablets, smartphones, and tablets. They can get Wi-Fi free connection in most cafés, restaurants, and public places, and even one city, El Jadida, is offering free internet services within the municipality limits (Anyway, most of the smartphones nowadays have 4G technology.)

The state media has always been in the service of the political and religious establishments, glorifying obsequiously the conservative and absolute monarchy and chanting the praise of a traditional and austere Islam that refuses to adapt to the realities of modern times. Sick of the fact that this media hardly ever treats subjects that are close to their hearts, the youth, representing almost 50% of the population in Morocco, created their own exclusive world on the Internet bashing the red lines of both politics and religion, forever.

This unprecedented silent revolution is taking place in Morocco and many Arab countries at the same time. It is true that the West and the rest of the world have been charmed by this unprecedented Arab awakening nicknamed « The Arab Spring », writing thousands of books and articles about it and making documentaries about its various manifestations, but nobody is paying any attention, whatsoever, to the quiet cultural revolution taking place behind the spotlight. The difference between the two phenomena being, that while the Arab Spring has been hijacked by the more absolutist Islamists pushing back societies to the Middle Ages, the cultural revolution is thriving just because nobody is paying much attention to it, at least for the time being.