A bitter note from last week: A natural disaster is also a weak national PR moment. Suddenly, your country is teeming with international news channels, which – that’s why they’re there – instantly complete an important checklist.
Do they really have a smooth government apparatus in this country, one capable of confronting this disaster? Do the competent authorities pay sufficient attention to the fate of the weakest? Or are we dealing with a bureaucratic mess here?
In southern Morocco, which was struck by a strong earthquake a week and a half ago, this appears to be the case. In the most affected areas of the High Atlas, the press was immediately at the scene, while Moroccan emergency services were barely visible.
It produced haunting images. The wretches who, in my all-too-familiar barbaric dialect, mourn their dead and rage at the inadequacy of the authorities. Things became even scarier when pictures emerged of workers rushing to evacuate the streets in Marrakesh A fresh lick of paint Gifts on the occasion of the announcement of the arrival of Moroccan King Mohammed VI. For him, the bureaucratic mill has sped up.
It is truly a disastrous public relations moment: Morocco, a country where the authorities do not seem very concerned with the misery of the poor, and where only respect for the king can be relied upon.
In the proudest corners of Moroccan society, there was some anger at this portrayal. Writer Fouad Laroui, also known in the Netherlands, said on the Moroccan website le360: “Our misfortune is being exploited.”
Al-Aroui issued a harsh indictment against the French newspaper Le MondeIt opened the day after the earthquake with the title “No one has come to help us yet,” a quote from a resident of the High Atlas.
Yes, there are a lot of mistakes in Morocco, but why was a different approach not chosen at such a tragic moment, Laroui wonders. How difficult is it to get to the area? How difficult is it to properly inventory the damages? According to Laroui, the following image remained stuck in the minds of French readers: ‘Moroccans? Apathetic, incompetent. Their state? Absent.’
I will decline to make a final judgment on the country at the moment (reconstruction has not yet begun), but in reality, the rough picture of Moroccans as apathetic and incompetent is far from the truth.
The dust had not yet settled when major relief efforts were launched from southern Morocco to its north and beyond. People went out en masse to take care of people who already had little.
On Friday evening, this unprecedented solidarity also became clear to Dutch television viewers through the hastily broadcast program Together for Morocco (NPO 1). BM members (Celebrity Moroccans) such as Khaled Kacem, Nadia Musaed and Sohail Ammar Issa could not sit still and quickly put together an excellent program to inform and – more importantly – continue aid to those in need from their home country.
Moroccans are indifferent? of course no.
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