This piece also appeared on The Urban Times.
Earlier this week, more than 100 Moroccan women gathered outside the Parliament in Rabat to protest against comments made by Prime Minister Benkirane on the role and status of women in modern society.
Benkirane, who is head of the Islamist coalition government in Morocco and leader of the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), was condemned by critics and opposition parties for his speech last Tuesday, in which he said:
“Today, there is a problem with the role of women in Moroccan society. If Morocco is to model itself after the European example in regard to the role of women, women won’t find time to get married, to be mothers, or to educate their children. …Don’t you realise that when women went to work outside, the light went out of their homes?”
By claiming that Moroccan women belong in the household rather than in the workplace, he has received harsh criticism from activists, politicians and women’s organisations, and his statements even inspired the Twitter hashtag #AnaMachiTria (“I am not a chandelier“).
Here’s a selection of some of the most popular tweets:
@AbrahamBoray: “The perfect woman according to Abdelilah Benkirane.”
@MahassineMS: “I have other ambitions than to be a chandelier, Mr. Benkirane.”
The protest on Tuesday was originally organised by the Civil Coalition for the Application of Article 19 of the Constitution, and many who attended called for Benkirane to withdraw his comments, which “limit women’s role to their biological reproductive function and domestic work.”
Demonstrators also waved banners citing Article 19 of the Moroccan constitution, which outlines that all “men and women enjoy equal civil liberties, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental rights….”
The video below records the protest, showing women banging pans, pots and spoons and chanting slogans such as: “Benkirane get out! Morocco is not for you!”
FRANCE 24 reports that one of the protesters, Amina Benameir, told AFP that the Prime Minister’s speech was “irresponsible” and that “women have been working in Morocco for hundreds of years. And since 2011 we have achieved a lot more rights.”
Meanwhile, Nouzha Skalli, a former Minister of Solidarity, Women and Family in Morocco, told AFP that Benkirane was a “man of a backward vision” and that she refuses “this humiliation from a person who believes a woman is like a chandelier inside the house.”