Morocco's Prime Minister faces criticism over response to war in Gaza

Aziz Akhannouch defends government amid calls for Mawazine music festival to be cancelled in solidarity with Palestinians

Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch has denied the country is ignoring the crisis in Gaza. EPA
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Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch has faced criticism in Parliament over his government's response to the war in Gaza, amid calls to cancel the Mawazine music festival this year in solidarity with the Palestinian enclave.

The issue was raised by the opposition Justice and Development bloc, whose MP Abdellah Bouanou said Morocco must act “to contribute to stopping this [Gaza] genocide by any means”.

“As the head of the government of the Moroccan state, you must contribute in any way to stopping this genocide,” Mr Bouanou said on Monday, in comments directed at Mr Akhannouch. “Until now, we have not heard you talk about the issue.”

Moroccans have staged protests against the war since it began in October, with protesters urging the government to take a more proactive position and to review the 2020 pact establishing ties with Israel.

Activists have called for the Mawazine festival to be cancelled out of respect for those killed and injured in Gaza.

Campaigns have been launched on Instagram and Facebook with hashtags such as #BoycottMawazine and #DoNotDanceOnTheirWounds in a bid to stop the festival from going ahead.

Mr Bouanou urged Mr Akhannouch to “relieve us of the embarrassment that Morocco is dancing on the wounds of its Palestinian brothers”.

The Prime Minister denied that Morocco was ignoring what was happening in Gaza and said his government was taking part in efforts to stop the war.

“Moroccans do not dance to the suffering of our Palestinian brothers and are compassionate with what is happening in Gaza,” Mr Akhannouch said.

“The government is working under the leadership of His Majesty, King Mohamed VI, and as soon as I leave this session, I will head to Amman to attend a meeting on Gaza.”

Fatima Ezzahra Bouraymi, a university student in Casablanca, said she was shocked the Mawazine Festival was set to go ahead.

“It does not make sense for a festival to take place while our brothers and sisters are dying. It is an embarrassment,” she told The National.

Mawazine draws some of music's biggest performers. After being suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival returns this year with a line-up that includes Mohamed Ramadan, Haifa Wehbe, Kylie Minogue and Calvin Harris.

“If Mawazine is to take place, it needs to bring artists that support Palestine and who will carry the Palestinian flag. We do not want big artists such as Nicki Minaj or Beyonce who have never spoken up against the war," Ms Bouraymi added.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 7:19 AM