Applebaum on Morocco

It almost never fails. When a Western reporter goes to Morocco to write about the process of democratization, the resulting article will inevitably mention sartorial choices and give them positive or negative values. Jeans = good. Jellabas = bad. At Slate, Anne Applebaum visits Morocco and finds that many women “would not look out of place in New York or Paris.”

So what? What does Moroccan women’s fashions have anything to do with human rights and democracy? Under King Hassan, Moroccan women used to dress much less conservatively, but that didn’t mean that the country was a haven of human rights. Just look at what happened to women activists during the Years of Lead.

Her contention that protesters outside Parliament were “politely” waving signs is bizarre. If she had spent any kind of time, day after day, watching what happened to them, she wouldn’t be praising their politeness or the police’s restraint. The elections themselves are really nothing to write home about: turn-out was low and the results were, as usual, entirely unsurprising. If this is what she qualifies as “transformation from authoritarianism to democracy” then Lord help us all.