The government of Morocco is considered one of, if not the, most stable governments in the Arabic speaking world. However, as I have mentioned, there is a gigantic growing youth population. According to the World Bank, 30% of the population is between the ages of 15 and 29. Moreover, there are very few opportunities for employment for the under 30 (at least 49% of which are unemployed) population and much of those who find work are well overqualified for their position.
There are many harsh terms for unemployed youth that hang around their neighborhoods doing nothing. “Bu zbel,” is a particularly popular one, literally translated to “son of the garbage.” The attitude of these terms being that such youth have no aspirations for their lives other than hanging around and smoking hash and (in a classically American argument) are in their position, because they are lazy and don’t even try to do better themselves. In my experience, most of such youth have spent a great deal of their lives in and out of low level jobs or searching for work to no avail.
Few youth become their own employers, selling goods on the street. Their work is technically illegitimate and they often face harassment by the police ( https://maternalandinfanthealth.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/observing-the-police/ ). They certainly don’t wish to subsist this way for the rest of their lives. On the flipside, I have heard of many kids finding self employment as early as 9, in low level crime: selling hash, cocaine or pharmaceuticals, robbing and selling stolen goods, etc. If they are unsuccessful, they fill Morocco’s crowded prisons. If they succeed in this business, they can afford to pay off the police and eventually graduate to big time gangsters.
Unless you are of the very few to succeed in the legitimate or illegitimate work worlds, nihilism will eventually set in and who can blame you for accepting your place, leaning against a wall in the market, shooting the breeze?
In 2011, Morocco felt its own Arab Spring protest movement, called the February 20th movement. This movement called for reforms to the Moroccan constitution, and many members advocated for the dissolution of the king’s political power. This movement did not gain the same level of momentum as in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Through quiet, non-violent repression, co-optation and concession, the monarchy effectively silenced the protesters (although, they still exist and organize on a smaller scale). Reforms were made to the constitution and were effective in some areas, such as family law, but overall unsatisfactory to the demands of the protesters.
Youth challenges to the Moroccan government may be kept within state control for the time being, but the youth population is not getting smaller and little is being done to accommodate them.
So when I am sitting on a corner watching a boy of 12 years or less huff glue and explain to me his dreams of moving to America to become a drug kingpin, I wonder how the state will respond when him and his peers grow up and pursue their ambitions.