Speaking at a Quranic school in Marrakech, Mustapha Ramid complimented the sheikh for his work in a city that "people come from all over the world to spend time sinning in and being far from God," he was quoted as saying in the press.
"It is economic suicide in a time crisis," stated an angry editorial in the French-language daily Le Matin on Thursday. "We are shooting ourselves in the foot when we attack tourists — it's irresponsible and dangerous."
Exports to Europe and remittances from Morrocans working abroad have also been hurt by the crisis there.
The new budget projects a deficit of 5 percent of GDP, which will have to be covered with further borrowing.
While international ratings agencies have given Morocco a stable outlook, the country's BBB- rating is just above the speculative level and more debt could prompt a lower rating — making international borrowing onerous.
"Morocco's rating could be downgraded if the current increase in public deficits was not addressed and caused a further substantial increase in public debt ratio," noted Moody's Investor Service in a March statement.
Amid these grim figures, social unrest is on the rise. Hundreds of unemployed protesters had to be forcibly removed Wednesday from the parliament while the budget was approved, an action typical of the small-scale demonstrations breaking out all over the country.
With the economic situation hurting government efforts to address unemployment and the gaps between rich in poor that sparked last year's pro-democracy protests, more unrest could be on the way.
"Nothing, unfortunately, has changed or is on the road to change," said Akesbi. "The same causes will continue to produce the same effects in the coming year."
Associated Press reporter Aziz el-Yaakoubi contributed to this report.
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