Social media is at our disposal and we need to make the best use of it. We should not be just followers of what others do, or simply just share our pictures, our moments of joy or sorrow, or make new virtual friends. We should also use social media to serve a purpose. Nowadays, most people use social media to raise awareness about the issues that are of concern to them. Facebook and Twitter have proven to be very helpful in making people’s voices heard and reach every corner of the world.

 

Our country has been under attack for years from people bent on dividing it into pieces. Aware of the power of social media, these people have made tremendous efforts to benefit from this tool to reach their goal. Yet, while Moroccans are very present on Facebook, with more than 6 million people having an account, a much smaller number of Moroccans, if any, have an account on Twitter. As I was checking Twitter in recent days to see the trendiest hashtags, I was surprised to see that very few Moroccans are present in the hashtag #WesternSahara, which is used by the likes of Aminatou Haidar, Javier Bardem, Kerry Kennedy and their acolytes to spread their propaganda against Morocco.

 

In the absence of Moroccans to present any given reader with the other side of the coin regarding the underlying causes of the Moroccan Sahara, Kennedy and Bardem find it easy to demonize our country, present it as the culprit and the Polisario as the victim. As we usually say, when you keep repeating the same lies, people end up taking them for granted and believing they represent the truth.

 

Accordingly, I urge my fellow Moroccans to open accounts on Twitter and to show their presence on the hashtag #WesternSahara or any hashtag used for the purpose of serving the agenda of the Polisario, Algeria and South Africa. I always say that our war against the enemies of our country, its stability and its territorial integrity will not be won only in the corridors of tinternational organizations, such as the United Nations and its entities, but also through the involvement of civil society. We are all aware of the impact that social media play in our lives and the critical role they can play in advancing any cause, whether at the international, regional or national levels.

 

Let’s be mobilized to defend our country against its enemies. Let’s all stand together and forget about Real Madrid and Barcelona, or about Arabs or Amazighs. Let’s stand up against Javier Bardem, and Kerry Kennedy. The best way to do it is not to demonize them, but rather to show the shallowness and untruthfulness of their arguments.

 

Let’s defend our country and not make our support for it contingent on anything else other than our love for our land, its history and a hope for a better future. It is true that our officials suffer from a lot of shortcomings.I have always been vocal in leveling a constructive criticism towards them with the hope of making things change for the better. I feel frustrated when I see how poor the performance of some of our officials is when they speak about the issue of the Sahara on international media, to the point that sometimes I feel helpless and powerless. I feel also outraged by the absence of a clear and well-rounded media strategy aimed at reaching international public opinion.

 

But because of this, should we give up and leave our frustration to lead us to the abyss? Who else than Moroccans can defend our country in a selfless way? Any time I have this feeling of powerlessness, I remind myself that the most impactful power that one can have nowadays is social media and the smart conscientious use of it.

 

Don’t make your love for your country and the defense of its interests contingent on material gains. Our government with its competent and incompetent officials needs us as civil society to compliment its work by being fully engaged in parallel diplomacy. In this regard, social media is the best tool that one can use to play a role in social diplomacy.

 

As a Moroccan citizen proud of my country recognizing its dark and good sides, I feel invested with the mission to defend it against those who are bent on preventing it from making great strides towards development.

 

By doing so, I don’t expect people to give me credit or recognition. When you take the lead and you show people how important it is to be committed to the defense of your country, you gain something that is way more important than money: people’s love and respect. One has to look at those who receive lavish support from some spheres of the State without bringing any benefit to our national cause, and how people despise and scorn them.

 

Let’s not wait for our officials to bring about significant change, for most of them are not aware of the role of social media and of using English as a tool to reach an international audience that is not familiar with our position on the Sahara and the root causes of the conflict. Let’s bring change by ourselves as citizens. Maybe through our activism and actions they will wake up some day. By then, we can pride ourselves in having achieved a feat.

 

Let’s stand up to those pseudo-advocates of human rights, who only care about getting money and more fame. I have been working for about five years with many NGO’s and know that many of them can change their skin in order to get money, especially when you are an oil or gas-producing country. I know this for a fact and my being here in New York for the past five years taught me a lot about these so-called non-for-profit organizations.

 

Our country needs every one of us. It is our duty as Moroccans to defend it and stand up against those who seek to harm its rightful causes and strategic interests. Let’s use social media in a smart, purposeful and committed way. Let’s show the world how united and committed we are to defending our country.

Samir Bennis is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Morocco World News. You can follow him on Twitter @SamirBennis

09/03/2013