The Moroccan parliament building… elegance, protest and martyrs

Very few know that the Moroccan parliament building, which stands on the famous Mohammed V Street in the center of the capital, Rabat, with its impressive design that combines tradition and modernity, during the eighties of the last century caused the death of a number of workers due to the stress to which they were exposed during the period of its redesign under the supervision of the famous French engineer Bacar.

The Moroccan parliament building in its current form, which looks like a “supreme court” from the outside due to its construction and its bright red color, is characterized by an elegant and beautiful design that combines European architectural styles and Islamic architecture.

middle of the street

On Mohammed V Street, which many call the “street” for short, and is considered the main artery of the capital, Rabat, the Moroccan Parliament building with its two houses of “Representatives and Councilors” stands as a political, historical and urban beacon. dating back to the twenties of the last century.

The Moroccan Parliament building was initially a “Palace of Justice” during the French colonial period before its main features changed in the 1960s, then it was “modernized” in the 1980s with impressive improvements and designs making it a constitutional building. made. which forms the backbone of legislative life in the country.

If the Moroccan parliament building is a legislative institution in which laws are proposed, drafted and ratified by the “representatives of the nation”, it is also known for its association with the most prominent social and political protests.

The square opposite the Moroccan parliament building is a well-known pilgrimage for a number of activists, associations and social segments, and even citizens who organize vigils to demand wasted or legal rights.

Look at the protests

In this context, the youth activist Abdelkhalek Ofla said that the parliament building is as much as it produces several laws that regulate the lives of Moroccans, as it has been an eyewitness and still is of some of the biggest and biggest marches and vigils in the history of the country .

In statements to The Independent, he mentioned the rallies of the “February 20 movement” that broke out in parallel with the so-called “Arab Spring” in other Arab countries in Morocco to overthrow corruption and tyranny and the rejection of marriage to demand “money and power”.

According to Ofla, who participated in some protests for the category of contracting professors, the parliament building witnessed other massive protest marches organized before it for unemployed professors, doctors and certificate holders. , so that the movements in front of him became a daily sight for Moroccans, and the sight of security personnel and public authorities around the building also became a regular thing.

capital teacher

For his part, the head of the Moroccan Center for the Preservation of the Memory of the Parliament, Abdelhai Bennis, said that what makes the building shine more is its elegant design, which combines European architectural styles and Islamic architecture, which makes it of high artistic and make architectural value. .

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In an interview with The Independent, Bennis said that few people know the history of this building due to the lack of sources chronicling it, but every visitor to Rabat feels its value, touches its grandeur and reads the lines of history. its walls. , evidence of people rushing to take photos in front of the parliament, as he is the capital’s landmark par excellence. Wandering around one sees familiar faces of politicians, writers and artists.

According to Bennis, who worked in the parliament for almost four decades until it was called “The Memory of the Moroccan Parliament” and who wrote a book about the Moroccan Parliament, this building was built in 1926 to be the Court of Appeal and was the only court in Morocco, where several trials were held.” He added that no one He imagined that the days would bring new concepts that would turn the state upside down, with democracy as a slogan and Parliament as a symbol.

Bennis goes back a bit in history when the parliament was established after the kingdom’s independence in 1956, so that the National Consultative Council was formed for the first time under the chairmanship of Mahdi Ben Barka, and the Mamounia Palace (currently the Ministry of Justice) ) was based, but it did not last long and was suspended in 1959.

transformations

After the 1962 constitution, Bennis adds, the first legislative term was inaugurated on 18 November 1963 in one of the halls of the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Rabat, which was a temporary seat for its sessions until a new seat for the Parliament was formally has been prepared. and the situation remained as it was until January 22, 1964 in the first legislative mandate, which witnessed several discussions on the construction of a new seat for the Parliament, adding that at the time he proposed to build the Mohammed V Theater in an official seat of the House of Representatives After this discussion, a group of delegates visited the theater to see the possibility of converting it to the Parliament and then agreed to present a memorandum to the late King Hassan II to the Mohammed V theater to move, but the decision was not made for several reasons in this regard.

Bennis continued, “The situation continued as it was until 1970, when a decision was issued to convert the Court of Appeal into a seat of Parliament, but parliamentary life soon ceased after 10 July 1971 due to two failed coup attempts against the late king. Hassan II.”

In the same building, the third legislative term was inaugurated on October 14, 1977, and on November 28, 1979, King Hassan II laid the foundation stone for the House of Representatives built on a large area in the prayer hall near “Bab Zaer”. in Al-Mishwar Al-Saeed (a square that includes the Royal Palace). This complex would have included a hotel for delegates not resident in Rabat, in addition to a mosque and a meeting room equipped with the latest equipment.

Interior design

Bennis explained that the seat of the Parliament in the Court of Appeal on Mohammed V Street was left in a strategic location on an area of ​​six hectares and its facade, which is the largest facade of Moroccan buildings, giving it a kind of prestige giving and luxury that qualified it to be the facade of the contemporary state, adding that the interior design of this building at that time hindered Parliamentary work based on its design based on a court of appeal, is characterized by ‘ a large main hall in the shape of a rectangle, with horizontal chairs on both sides, and in which parliamentary sessions were held until April 1985.

What is interesting about the issue is what the head of the Moroccan Center for the Preservation of the Parliament’s Memory revealed and said: “In the eighties, the French engineer Bakkar completely redesigned the building and relied on three teams of workers who three consecutive months, worked day. and night, for eight hours for each team, which resulted in the death of some Workers due to severe stress.

Bennis returns to depict the interior of the building. “Parliament’s headquarters consists of two floors, the ground floor includes a mosque and two halls designated for meetings of parliamentary committees. It also includes a printing press and technical departments, in addition to a car garage.”

internal description

The first floor consists of a hall for meetings of parliamentary committees as well, in addition to administrative offices, and in the middle is a large lobby where parties and receptions are held.

As for the second floor, in the center is a large hall decorated with paintings by great painters and contains a royal suite and 10 other meeting rooms and offices for the President of the Council and the heads of parliamentary committees and groups, in addition to the main hall devoted to plenary sessions.

According to Bennis, “the shape of the great hall is semi-circular with green and red stands (the colors of the national flag), the green seats are for members of the government, while the red ones are for parliamentarians, and behind these stands are seats for the public, and at the top there is a television and radio broadcasting unit and translation booths, and there are two halls There are two presses on either side of the hall.

And the main hall of the Parliament building is equipped with a voting machine and an electronic blackboard. As for its architectural side, the most important feature of the dome is decorated with inscriptions of wood and plaster, which constitutes a very beautiful and luxurious painting, in addition to its estimated height of the height of a three-level building.

Entrances and walls

Bennis added, “The Moroccan parliament building has two entrances. The first, the president, directly overlooks the first floor of the building and overlooks Mohammed V Street, which goes through a very beautiful and elegant garden, and then a rear entrance overlooking a large yard. dedicated to the cars of parliamentarians and employees.”

According to the same speaker, “the walls of the parliament building are characterized by strength and solidity, as they are built with thick stone and covered with matte marble, while the doors and windows are of luxurious antiquity and are characterized by their great height. ” He added that “Morocco adopted a bicameral parliamentary system in the 1996 constitution, and a special headquarters was built. In the second room of the Moroccan Parliament, next to the seat of the House of Representatives, the rest of the parts of the building, which held the court, were used.

The building underwent reforms and extensions that preserved its architectural privacy, and restoration and extension work continued state after state, bringing the building to what it is today. New offices and annexes were built next door to the Kingdom’s public treasury. belonged

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