The End of an Era

Ask any Moroccan what he thinks about King Hassan II and he will either cringe or cheer. The same can be said for Driss Basri, more commonly known as “Butcher Basri,” who served as Morocco’s Interior Minister for twenty years. Some, such as those of his hometown Settat, admired him for the economic progress he made while others hated him for the torture and imprisonment which he allegedly inflicted upon thousands during his tenure. This period of repression, commonly known as the "Years of Lead,” stretched from the 1970s to the late 1990s, ending with the death of Hassan II in 1999.
Although Basri was a powerful figure who was highly trusted by Hassan II, King Mohammed VI did not feel the same way, removing him from power on November 9, 1999, only three months after his accession to the throne. Basri was given the Grand Ribbon of the Arch, Morocco’s highest honor, and then promptly left for Paris. Within a week of his departure, several of his closest aides were ordered not to leave Morocco without permission. One such aide was later found guilty of abuse of power and of public funds.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that Human Rights groups and Western Sahara advocates have for years accused Basri of abuses, he was able to die peacefully in Paris just a week before the Moroccan elections, leaving behind his reputation and perhaps signaling the true end of an era.
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About Jillian York

Jillian York is a freelance writer who focuses on the MENA region, with an emphasis on Morocco. After graduating with a BA in Sociology from Binghamton University, Jillian volunteered with AmeriCorps before moving to Morocco to teach English for two years. Since 2005, Jillian has maintained The Morocco Report, a blog about Moroccan politics and culture, and currently covers Moroccan and Palestinian blogs for Global Voices Online. She is also the author of a Culture Smart! Morocco, a guide to Moroccan customs and writes for INTHEFRAY Magazine. Jillian is particularly interested in the effort to promote citizen media from countries which are given a negative focus in the Western media.

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