- Title: MOROCCO: Politician-wary residents of poor Moroccan slum to boycot elections
- Date: 7th September 2007
- Summary: SHOPS IN THE AREA/ MEN RIDING ON MOTORBIKE
- Embargoed: 22nd September 2007 13:00
- Location: Morocco
- Country: Morocco
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAE3QLE0X2VHMG3HLOAQ0Y8GQM6
- Story Text: Residents of the slum of Sidi Moumen, which produced most of the suicide bombers in the country's 2003 and 2007 deadly attacks, say they will boycott the September 7 elections.
Hopelessness has the Casablanca shanty of Sidi Moumen in its grip and the parliamentary polls on Friday (September 7) will do nothing to bring the jobs it desperately needs, residents say.
Things have worsened in Sidi Moumen since suicide bombings in March 2007 by young men from Sidi Moumen, the same slum that was home to some of the Islamist militants who attacked Casablanca in 2003.
"If you are asking me, I am not going to vote because it will not help" said Abbadi, a resident of the slum.
"Honestly, neither me nor members of my family are going to vote," said another resident, Mohammed.
"The elections will take place any way but we will not vote, nothing has been changed, life is very difficult, there is nothing, no services and no schools," said slum resident Karima as she took journalists into her house and showed them the state of squalor in which she and her family lived.
Such opinions are widespread in Sidi Moumen, a warren of hut-sized concrete homes topped by corrugated iron roofs baking in the summer sun.
Children play barefoot amid mounds of foul-smelling garbage and festering open sewers.
Many of the five million-strong city of Casablanca fear the polls will be an exercise in futility, a sentiment expressed all over Morocco.
Sidi Moumen residents say their link to the suicide bombers means their slum suffers from the stigma of being seen as a breeding ground for terrorists.
Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sport Mohammed Gash said the poor are often mistreated by the wider society. "Poor people are the ones who produce the elite. Alongside the ugly face of terror there is also a despising of poor people, and poor people are attacked," the minister said.
Some of Sidi Moumen's shacks have been destroyed under government plans to eradicate slum housing but most remain, bereft of running water or proper drains.
Some residents say their situation has got even worse during the election campaign. Queues at a standpipe have lengthened because the flow of water has slowed to a trickle.
The apathy of the people of Sidi Moumen suggest few Moroccan slum dwellers will turn out to vote on Friday.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None