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Morocco: Opposition to Mawazine Festival Grows

As the the world struggles with the global economic crisis, Morocco's Mawazine festival may be affected [ar] by growing resentment at its cost. Mawazine is an annual international music festival held in the Moroccan capital Rabat, which in 2012 will take place between 18 and 26 May [fr].

In the past international stars including the late Whitney Houston have performed at Mawazine, and tourists flock to watch the concerts. The opposition to the festival is not new; last year, activists pushed for the cancellation of Mawazine but failed. Protesters say the festival is a squandering of public money, demanding that its lavish budget should be invested in more pressing issues, but organisers argue that the main part of the budget comes from sponsorship and ticket sales. As the festival draws near, there are growing concerns that protests may break out.

Syrian singer Mayada El-Hanaoui performing at the Mawazine festival in 2011. Photo from Flickr by Magharebia (CC BY 2.0)

Syrian singer Mayada El-Hanaoui performing at the Mawazine festival in 2011. Photo from Flickr by Magharebia (CC BY 2.0)

The blog The View From Fez posted:

It seems like 2012 will be a repeat of previous years as the 11th edition of the Mawazine Festival (18- 26 May) is again being criticised, not for the morals of the performers, but for excessive payments to artists. According to reports, Mariah Carey, is due to receive more than $830,000 for her gig at the closing ceremony of the festival in Rabat.

University teacher Talal wrote in a blog post entitled “Mawazine ou Mahazine” meaning “Mawazine (rhythms) or sorrowful people”:

J'aimerais pouvoir partager cette joie avec nos patients qui meurent aux urgences en attendant qu'un infirmier arrive, après 6 heures d'attente. J'aimerais tellement partager cette joie avec ce pauvre licencié en droit qui fait 3 fautes d'orthographe par phrase à cause du systèmes éducatif défaillant dans lequel il a grandi, ou avec cette fillette qui doit parcourir 3km pour 4h de route pour aller à l'école. J'aimerais tellement la partager, cette joie dont vous parlez, avec ces habitants des montagnes de l'Atlas qui sont morts de froid à cause d'un Hiver un peu trop dur, et de conditions de vie médiocres, sans électricité ni eau potable.

I would like to be able to share this happiness with our patients who are dying in the emergency rooms waiting for a nurse to come, after six hours of waiting. I would really like to share this happiness with the poor law graduate who commits three spelling mistakes in each sentence due to the broken education system with which he grew up, or with the young girl who has to walk four hours to get to school. I would like to share it, this happiness which you [El Habib Choubani, Moroccan minister] talk about, with the residents of the Atlas mountains who die of cold becuse of a slightly too harsh winter and miserable living conditions, with neither electricity nor drinking water.
A meeting of the National Campaign for the Cancellation of Mawazine. Photo from Flickr by Magharebia (CC BY 2.0)

A meeting of the National Campaign for the Cancellation of Mawazine. Photo from Flickr by Magharebia (CC BY 2.0)

The festival is sensitive political issue. Marketing manager Insouciant tweeted [fr]:

@yucefj: Benkirane ordonne la chabiba du #PJD de ne pas se manifester contre #Mawazine…Vive l´expression libre quoi!!

Benkirane [Morocco's prime minister] orders the youth of #PJD [Justice and Development Party] not to protest against #Mawazine… So much for freedom of expression!!

As opposition grows, the music festival seeks to become financially independent to counter the criticisms. Safae El Mansouri argued:

@safaemansouri: Mawazine funds: 57% SMS games, TV broadcasting ads, 34% #sponsorship, 8% from #Moroccangovernment. STOP blaming #Government for #MAWAZINE.

The following video [ar] by the National Campaign for the Cancellation of Mawazine documents the year-long efforts to get the festival cancelled:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EwmZ-YGeXw

This video from MegaMawhoub features an anti-Mawazine song:

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