Selma Maarouf: “I can say without fear of self deception that we will win; not only because truth and reason are on our side, but because we are ready to do whatever is necessary to get our rights back.”
On Sunday May 15th, Selma took part in a protest in Rabat where she was beaten, brutalized and harassed by security officers, leaving her badly bruised yet still fearless and determined as ever: Here is her account of the situation.
Many of us have seen Selma Maarouf on the first video calling for change in Morocco. She looked us straight in the eyes with her big brown eyes, as she declared: “I am Moroccan and I will go out on February 20 to demand that education is accessible to everyone and not a privilege of the wealthy.”
In just one video, she and her fellow feb20 youth had reached out to the world and rallied generations of Moroccans. Selma planted the seeds of hope in our hearts.
Selma stood at the forefront of every protest that took place in Rabat. With her brother Ghassane, they have been consistently spotted at every protest, nose to nose with security forces at times, but always undeterred and resolved: Selma raising a Facebook sign, handing a flower to a security officer, or defiantly standing up to the baltagui trying to intimidate her. A real ball of fire, hope, and courage! One might rightly say that where there is a will, there is Selma!
So who is the real Selma Maarouf? Why did she join the Feb20 movement? What are her dreams? What is her story? Where does such a young woman get so much energy, passion and determination? Who influenced her and shaped her beliefs about freedom, equality and justice?
We have reached out to Selma to ask her a few questions. Her answers, which were by the way, all presented in English, are a reminder to all of us, Moroccans and freedom lovers, of the many talents of the Moroccan youth who are unquestionably capable of standing up for their rights and leading the call for democratic change.
M4C: Who is Selma Maarouf?
I am 22 years old. I study biology and I am planning to continue my studies in the environmental field.
M4C: Tell us about how all of this started. Why the video?
I joined the heated discussions on facebook in January but those discussions didn’t gain much attention from public media so we have decided to do a video. We dared to put a face to the message, unfazed by the possibility of getting arrested . The video went viral and helped us convince more people to protest on February 20th.
M4C: Why have you joined the Feb20?
Well, I felt suffocated of the limited liberties and was really tired of watching in anger and frustration an undemocratic regime ruling us. Corruption and nepotism are deeply rooted in the system and we are allowing it. The time has come to raise our voices
M4C: What is it like being a young person in Morocco?
I always felt that it doesn’t matter what I think because decisions are already made for us and you better not think at all or you will end up in jail. It was like a given. I grew up knowing that everything is going wrong in this country: the educational system is fraught with inequalities that affect people with low incomes; journalists are often sentenced when criticizing the institution of monarchy, Islam or the territorial integrity; a very limited health insurance and a king who holds all the powers.
M4C: What is the source of your inspiration?
My father inspires me since he spent 10 years of his life in prison (the years of lead). I admire him because I know how much love and courage it takes to fight for your rights and sacrifice your life for that.
My brother is involved in the movement too and my parents are really supportive but other members of my family don’t get the importance of activism and they’re warning me all the time : you are going to be arrested and beaten…
You know what motivates me the most: the love of my country, it’s so powerful and overwhelming.
Our movement aspires to lead this country out of this dark tunnel in which we entered so we’ll continue fighting and mobilizing people. I can say without fear of self deception that we will win; not only because truth and reason are on our side, but because we are ready to do whatever is necessary to get our rights back.
M4C: Any other loves besides your love for Morocco?
I love photography. I love design because it’s free, creative, expressive, elegant and creates beautiful products and all things vintage.
M4C: What is your favorite book?
The kite runner.
M4C: What is your favorite music?
African and soul music.
M4C: What words describe you best?
Daydreamer. Seriously I live in another world. And my world is bright, colorful and peaceful.
M4C: Thank you Selma!
Thank you so much for this feature on your website! Much love!
***Follow Selma on Twitter: @selma20th