Moroccans protested in the capital Rabat against the royal budget on November 18, 2012. Their protest was violently repressed by police, who beat up activists as well as the journalists who turned up to cover the demonstration.
Reports claim that the royal palaces of Morocco cost the kingdom's coffers 700,000 Euros a day, in a country where the number of poor people has increased dramatically over the past few years.
According to a study published by the World Bank, the number of poor people is on the rise in Morocco:
… the total number of poor increased from 13.1% of the population in 1990/91 to 19% in 1998/99 (or, from 3.4 to 5.3 million). The number of “economically vulnerable”, i.e. those who are at or below 50% above the poverty line, increased from 35 to 44% (or, from 9 to 12 million).
In response to the protest, Mamfakinch says activists, human rights defenders and even journalists were attacked at the protest. The award-winning collective blog reports:
Several human rights defenders were violently repressed by forces during a protest in Rabat against the royal budget.
Journalists who came to cover the protest were not spared either. Omar Radi, Hind Bennani, and a journalist from a Spanish news agency were beaten as well. Souhail Karam from Reuters was insulted.
Samia Errazzouki anticipates a strong reaction even before the protest started:
@charquaouia: Protesters in Morocco are directly protesting against the king's budget. But will this also be swept under the rug as illegitimate dissent?
@charquaouia: Regardless of the percentage the palace's budget figures into the overall budget, the king's role in economic sphere can't be discounted.
And Omar Radi, who was at the protest, spells out why Moroccans are protesting the royal budget [fr]:
@OmarRADI: Rappel: Le roi vit à 700000 Euros/jour au frais du contribuable. ##BudgetPalais
Reminder: The king lives on 700,000 Euros per day – at the taxpayer's expense #BudgetPalais
Soon after the protest started, Moroccan blogger Hisham Almiraat reports:
@__Hisham: #Morocco, now: police violently disrupts protest against royal palace budget – activists
In a follow up tweet, he explains:
@__Hisham: #Morocco: activists beaten, threatened in protest agst palace share of public money in a country that struggles w/ abysmal budget deficit
And a third tweet provides context:
@__Hisham: #Morocco protest (context): King pays no taxes. salary, paid for by taxpayers money > Obama's > Holland's. #Budgetpalais
Errazzouki further explains:
@charquaoia: Beyond the fact that state allocates a budget to sustain king's palaces & courts, he pays no taxes, and is the wealthiest businessman.
Rue Zanka shares a video of the repression on YouTube:
The video is aptly entitled [ar]:
الهراوات في تفريق الاحتجاج على ميزانية القصر
Batons used in breaking up the protest against the palace budget
On Twitter, Montasser Drissi shares this photograph from a protest against the king's budget in Marrakech:
For more reactions, check out the hashtag #BudgetPalais. Many of the tweets are in French and Arabic.