Youth Protests and Space Reconstruction: The Case of Mohamed V Avenue in Rabat

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Mokhtar EL HARRAS, Université Mohamed V-Agdal, Morocco
Mohamed V Avenue is a discontinued public space. It represents the space of political expression to reject mainstream politics and policies in Morocco. A fact that converted it into a nucleus of a larger political and civic public space. Its strategic location and over-policing makes it ideal to make claims heard and to defend rights.

The transition of this avenue from a space that was almost exclusively under the State’s authority, to a space of multifaceted political and civic activism has been successfully achieved. Deploying diversity of profiles, opinions and affiliations while protesting has become apparent in this location more than anywhere. The march’s course is sub-divided into several sit-in spatial points. How its space has been reconstructed by youth protesting practices? What kind of political, cultural and social meanings have been attributed to this Avenue? How historical militancy and actual practices have mingled to reconstruct this Avenue?

The space itself is not homogeneous or composed of equal parts. On the contrary, the elements that compose this space have different value in terms of expected political outcome, and different impact on the surrounding public. What are the multiple sub-spaces that compose the avenue’s space? How do the protesting practices differ while crossing the multiple sub-spaces?

Youth are using challenging ways of demonstration (theater performances, black comedy, songs, dancing, etc.). The groups of protesting youth seem to be constituted according to ideological, institutional and regional criteria. Protests are also the scene of veiled and unveiled women, young and older, women from diverse political tendencies participating in the march, yet separated according to Islamist or modernist affiliation.

In face of the State who emphasizes the Avenue coherence and homogeneous order, civic actors are displaying diversity, difference and tolerance. A new political order is emerging through this kind of space reconstruction.