March 7, 2024

In November of 2010, Moroccan news media reported on the violent riots taking place in Laayoune, the capital city of Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. The television coverage focused on violence enacted by the protesters. Heavily edited, shaky video footage shows young Sahrawi men, their faces obscured by traditional desert turbans, attacking security vehicles, setting fire to banks and businesses, throwing stones, and fighting with Moroccan settlers and security forces.

The Moroccan media’s focus on the violence of the resistance obscures the fact that this violence was provoked by attacks from Moroccan security forces who forcibly dismantled and destroyed a tent camp that had been the site of a month-long peaceful protest known as Gdeim Izik.

The protest camp and its aftermath have been considered by some as the first in the series of uprisings that are now known as the “Arab Spring.” International media has long overlooked the conflict in the Western Sahara. The coverage in Western and Moroccan media that the region does receive focuses on instances of violence and thus obscures the story of the nonviolent resistance movement active in the region.

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Source: Taylor & Francis Online

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