King 'proud' of Morocco's reforms, in particular Family Code, interview
Morocco, Politics, 5/14/2004
Morocco's King Mohammed VI of Morocco said he was "proud" of the reforms he undertook in Morocco since his enthronement almost five years ago, in particular the reform of the former "Mudawana" (Family law) which has been replaced by the so-called "Family Code."
"This Code is meant to consolidate family values to which I am very committed," said the king in an interview published Thursday by the prestigious French magazine "Paris Match" in a 12 page special illustrated with photos of the monarch with his wife, Princess Lalla Salama and his one-year old son, Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan.
In the interview, King Mohammed VI spoke of the democratic process and the socio-economic projects under way in the Kingdom as well as of his role as father.
Reforms of the Code were first announced by King Mohammed VI on October 10. The reformed Code puts family under the joint responsibility of spouses, sets stringent conditions for polygamy, and raises women's age of marriage from 15 to 18.
The reforms, in harmony with the teachings of Islam, were seen as "revolutionary" and were largely welcomed in the Moroccan society and worldwide.
Specialized jurisdictions have been set up in Moroccan courts to implement the new Code, upon royal instructions. They will be open on holidays and weekends, with qualified cadres specially trained to rule in family matters.
In the interview, the monarch underlined that "what is important, is not to have reformed the Mudawana but to ensure the implementation of the new provisions."
He stressed that "this case will be closed once all conditions for the implementation of the Family code are met," insisting that this code does not only concern women but also the family of which the woman is "an integral part." The king made it clear that this code does not exclude men. "it certainly gives more freedom and security to women, and it is a step forward, but it also concerns the husband and the children," he said.
Dwelling on the equal footing of men and women, the monarch deems that " there are some fields where women are more present than men and vice-versa. In France and in other Western countries, you also have a debate on parity," he observed.
"I do not think that the absolute equality might exist one day," the monarch observed before wondering about the "real meaning of equality." The issue here, he went on, is to preserve male and female identities by giving them both respective dignity."
"The hardest thing is done. It is true that the process was long until this goal was reached, but I do think that Moroccan women face the future with much optimism."
Concerning the huge socio-economic projects under way in Morocco, King Mohammed VI said he has "always a busy agenda," noting that the "coming weeks will be particularly dense with notably the launching of huge socio-economic projects on which I have worked so much these past months."
These "structuring projects concern in reality, the whole North of the country: ports, road and railway infrastructures, industrial zones, electrification and drinking water. There is also the planning and the development of the Bouregreg river banks in the Rabat region."
In casablanca, he went on, "an important pole of industrial investments will be consolidated these days near the airport which will double its capacity," the sovereign said.
Asked about the five years of his reign, the monarch said they mark "a quite important anniversary and I am aware of it." He admitted, however, that there is still much to do, citing as an example the action plan for the development of the Northern Rif region which has been struck last February by a violent earthquake.
"I have always said that I do not have personal ambitions but I do have huge ones for Morocco," the King said.
When asked if "absolute serenity existed also in kings," the monarch answered: "I think that unconcern, whether we are kings or not, disappears at a certain age. It leaves room to serenity, which makes you more solid when facing events (É) this serenity makes you always remember your professional responsibilities. You think about it all the time. I have no fixed schedule, nor fixed day off, no planned holidays, and that is the merit of the king's task."
King Mohammed VI, quoting his late father King Hassan II, said, "I am at the service of the Moroccans without being anybody else' slave. That's something that made me think a lot," he went on.
"I do not belong to myself. I am here to fulfill a duty and I hope that one day I can say that I have honored my 'contract', that of the Beia (Allegiance) which binds me to my people, or that I have done everything possible. That is what motivates me everyday."
Concerning the education of his son, the Crown prince Moulay El Hassan, the sovereign wished that he "receives an education similar to ours."
"My sisters, my brother and myself have been raised rather in a severe way with a quite busy school cursus. We had to have a good religious education at the Koranic school of the palace. I want my son to receive the same basis," he went on.
"I don't want him to be shaped to my image, but to build his own personality."
Concerning the royal protocol and its alleged incompatibility with an open monarchy, the sovereign insisted that "the royal protocol is and remains the protocol." "The rumor had it that I have somehow turned a little bit upside down what existed so far. It is wrong. The style is different but the Moroccan protocol has its specificity. I insist that its rigor and each one of its rules be preserved. It is a precious heritage from the past," the monarch underlined. However, he noted, "it must be adapted to my style." "You know I was born and raised with these protocol habits. They are an integral part of my existence and especially of my professional life."
When asked in conclusion whether a form of freedom still exists when one is king and Commander of the faithful, King Mohammed VI said: "it is a relative freedom. Each one of us has his own freedom, and draws his red lines. It is up to us to interpret them."
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