Leading article: Terrorism must be no excuse for Arab repression

Share
Related Topics

Islamist terrorism has been the dog that has not barked throughout these astonishing few months of uprisings across the Arab world. Did that change with Thursday's bomb attack in Marrakech?

The blowing-up of a café in Djemaa el-Fna square, which killed 16 people, including 11 foreign nationals, certainly looks like an al-Qa'ida-style attack. There are echoes of the 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca, also aimed at foreign civilians, which killed 45.

Morocco has not been at the forefront of the Arab Spring, but it has experienced its share of popular protests against a repressive regime. In response, King Mohammed VI announced last month that he would give up some powers and make the judiciary independent. A new constitution is due to be unveiled in June. But there were fresh protests last week rejecting the draft of that constitution.

A security crackdown is now likely. The question is whether the king will use this as an excuse to reverse the reforms, or even to crush the peaceful opposition. This tactic has been attempted elsewhere. In the early days of the Libyan uprising, the Gaddafi regime tried to represent the regime's opponents as terrorists. That failed when the international media were able to expose the lie by making contact with the opposition. But if Islamists do interject themselves into the Arab Spring, it will give repressive regimes a further excuse to clamp down viciously on the mainstream opposition. And Western nations would be more likely to look the other away.

That would be a grave mistake. The protesters across the Arab world have been predominantly secular and peaceful. Their demands for greater freedom are wholly legitimate. The liberty of the Arab world – from Morocco to Syria – is in the West's real strategic interest and the best guarantee of regional stability in the medium term. If the Islamist dog does begin to bark, the outside world needs to keep a sense of proportion and to maintain its focus on the main prize.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'