Progressive Morocco a Model for Arab World
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2009 9:28 AM CDT
Morocco's King Mohammed VI, center left, waves to the crowd while riding a horse during a ceremony to mark the ninth anniversary of his rule, at the king's palace in Fez, Morocco, July 31, 2008.   (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
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(Newser) – Sick of all the violence in Tehran? Try taking a stroll through the capital of Morocco, suggests Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post. Not long ago, Morocco was a dictatorship, plagued by arbitrary arrests, “disappearances,” and torture. But over the last decade this distinctly Arab, distinctly religious state has become a constitutional monarchy, complete with political parties, a “relatively free press,” and even some women politicians.

Applebaum visited, and saw protesters “politely waving signs outside the parliament.” They were not, it appeared, afraid of getting shot by snipers. Morocco isn’t perfect—elections are suspect and illiteracy is rampant—but Moroccans think it can be a model for the Arab world. Of course, Morocco changed because its king decreed it should. Not every country is so lucky. “One thinks wistfully of the shah of Iran and of what might have been,” Applebaum concludes.