The Fishermen of Al Hoceïma, The City At The Center of Morocco’s Hirak Protests

As protests spread throughout Morocco, the vigor of those happening in Al Hoceïma started to garner global attention. Newspapers compared Mohcine Fikri to Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor whose self-immolation lit the match that started the Arab Spring. Despite the fact that Fikri does not seem to have forfeited his life willingly, there are some clear similarities: both were North African; both sold food; many observers saw them both as having been arbitrarily targeted by police; and their deaths became symbols for broader political grievances throughout their respective countries.

But, this comparison glosses over what makes Al Hoceïma, Al Hoceïma. Morocco is not Tunisia. Long before Fikri’s death, the Rif region had long held a reputation for being an epicenter of resistance and anti-government protest; a lot of which—past and present—revolved around demands for regional autonomy and cultural recognition, a context Tunisia does not share. The people here identify ethnically as Amazigh. Unlike Morocco’s Arab majority, the Amazigh speak a different language, have different cultural customs, and remember the nation’s past differently.—Roads & Kingdoms also featured in the February 27  New York Times

Our Monsters Are Like Us: Interview with Abdellah Taïa

In society, our monsters are like us. They are as human as we are; they love, they have love stories. Even when they veer towards extremism, there are things in them like us. To present them in the literary work as evil is not the right thing to do. If I do that, I’m following the ideology that says who the “enemy” is. The “enemy” is always changing. I told myself that I should just try to write sincerity and monstrosity and with extreme ambiguity. An ambiguity that anyone can relate to.—The Los Angeles Review of Books

Why Is a Moroccan History Professor Being Charged with ‘Endangering State Security?’

In Morocco, self-censorship is already a problem due to our prosecution as well as that of journalist Ali Anouzla.  Journalists are too afraid to criticize the taboo trinity—the King, the Intelligence Agency, and the Army.Those who steer clear of this are safe.  Journalists here are free to criticize ministers and other second-rank political personnel like ministers, so the press concentrates its criticism there even though it is not where power lies.

This is an ontological problem for journalists. They do not criticize the King, because it is dangerous. Instead they criticize [Prime Minister Abdelilah] Benkirane because he does not repress them for doing so. Journalists do not place political actors under equal scrutiny. They avoid covering corruption in Morocco’s high spheres of power but often single out the corruption of individual employees or policemen. This is not ideal for journalism—attacking the weak and committing editorial allegiance to the powerful. It is morally unacceptable. —Interview with Maati Monjib in Jadaliyya

In Morocco’s Parliamentary Elections, More Pessimism than Optimism Among the Electorate

In light of these recent elections, it seems, then, that the optimism following Morocco’s 2011 reforms has been subdued. The Moroccan people have grown tired of parliamentary candidates’ unfulfilled pledges. As journalist Ahmed al Raqam wrote in the popular Moroccan daily Assabah, “They’re tired of hearing the same promises of reform every five years.”—Muftah

PrEP, Queer Memory, the 1970s

Downs’s account of how, for some in the 1970s, “sex represented a radical political act” could very well apply to the PrEP era as well—with these debates, the way people have sex is beset with political undertones. Yes, Treatment Action Group’s Jeremiah Johnson’s February piece on PrEP, “It’s Not Irresponsible to Like Bareback Sex,” isn’t quite Charlie Shively’s 1973 manifesto, “Cocksucking as an Act of Revolution. But the tension between a politics centered on the idea of assimilation—aspiring to a future in which sexual orientation will no longer be relevant—and one that aspires to maintain the cultural specificity that comes along with existing outside the social order continues to characterize intra-LGBTQ politics. PrEP reinserts sex into queer advocacy debates, reversing the dominant contemporary tactic of putting forth a sanitized image of homosexuality—not talking about sex itself explicitly—that groups like Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry have utilized to win mainstream support for marriage equality.—Public Books