Hi! My name is Yassine Errahouti, and I am a 28 years old Moroccan, living in Laayoune. I am a business entrepreneur, and make and sell furniture. I have a degree in Information Technology (IT). Since 2017, I have been a member of the youth organization affiliated to the National Rally of Independents (RNI). Since joining the RNI, I have worked in the office for media and communication, and I have been active in local politics.
At first, I was hesitant to join any political party because I needed to convince myself to get involved in Moroccan politics, as the majority of people distrust politicians and politics. However, after the RNI set up a youth wing for its party in 2016, I became more interested in politics, and gradually my involvement grew.
What does democracy mean to you?
To me, democracy is the willingness to reach out to one another, and listen to the opinions of others. This means we need to reach across the divisions in our society. Whether one is poor or rich, male or female, educated or uneducated should not matter: we are all one society and need to respect each other. This is something we cannot just ‘import’ from abroad: we need to create this culture of democracy by ourselves, because democracy is a culture too, which we need to slowly develop in Morocco. Without a culture of democracy, we will always risk sliding back.
What developments do you see that are shaping democracy, in a positive or negative way, in your country?
We have come a long way in Morocco, and the Arab Spring of 2011 did affect us, due to interactions with the regional and global environment at the time. The Arab Spring caused a ripple effect which affected more than just a few countries. Morocco had a unique experience and benefited from the Arab Spring by making some constitutional reforms to reinforce democracy in the country, which has been appreciated by Moroccans. There are still more expected democratic reforms, and the youth is more involved than ever before, which is certainly a good thing. As I mentioned before there are more challenges as the young people still do not trust politicians, so more efforts are required in order to encourage youth generations to trust our democracy. But this is a long-term investment.
A less positive thing is that money is still a large factor in determining whether one can achieve success in politics. Unfortunately, this means that many still feel unrepresented by their elected officials, which I hope will change.
What do you like about politics, what motivates you to be politically active?
What motivates me is the people around me. Since my childhood I always dreamed to be at the service of others. Since joining politics, I have been approached by friends, people from the neighbourhood, traders and others about issues they were facing. Making these unheard voices heard for the first time is a major motivation for me, as it shows that anyone can try to make a difference and contribute to the prosperity of the people in their country.
Of which political achievement are you most proud?
It is not necessarily political, but I am very proud of the work we have been doing as a neighbourhood. For example, each Ramadan, which was last month, we come together and create a donation box. This money is then used for those who are less fortunate, and we help them to buy foodstuffs and other necessities they might need.
Also, I believe that education is key to developing the youth, and therefore I have been helping individuals to go to university. The nearest university is at least seven hours away from my city, and therefore it is a very big step for most, especially the poor people. I have been sponsoring some individuals to go to university, and to help them settle, for example by buying their study books for them. The great thing is that most tend to settle quickly, and do not require any further help after the first couple of months.
Personally, I believe that helping and serving others is the goal of politics, and I try to contribute in my own ways too.
What kind of support would you, or other young people active in your country, need more?
We need to develop education, it is the basis for prosperity and growth of societies and nations. Education in Morocco is very average, and this needs to be addressed. Teachers deserve better pay, and we need more of them as classrooms are often very full. In higher education, we primarily need more financial options to make it possible for everyone to study. I think that this is the one thing which the Moroccan youth require most to improve their societal status.
What is the added value of training (from organisations like the EFF) to your (political) development?
As I said, we cannot import democracy from abroad, as we need to develop it ourselves here. However, this does not mean that we cannot learn. Other states are further in their democratic development, and these training sessions help us to see how things could be set up in our own country. It is up to us to apply what we have learned to our own states afterwards, but we need to acquire this knowledge first, which is why these training sessions are so helpful.