In the midst of the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, on 2 March 2020, the Arabic language newspaper Assabah published a piece called “Have you been reached by the Moroccan Right?" The article reports on the presence of a Moroccan far-right movement (حركة يمينية مغربية متطرفة) which had been reproducing anti-Blackness discourses as if a local far-right was a second new virus. The virus of the extreme right, Assabah claims, endorses the supremacy of a white Moroccan pure Moorish race (العرق الموري النقي) through a group of Facebook pages without providing with concrete details on this network. On the same day, but one year later, the Facebook page Moroccan Nationalist Memes announced the establishment of the National Unity Collective (مجموعة الوحدة الوطنية) gathering eighteen Facebook pages forming the “Patriotic Moroccan Right” (اليمين القومي المغربي). As a way of disassociating their collective from Islamophobic discourses of established European far-right parties, the online nature of these pages brings them closer to the "alt-right" modus operandi due to their savvy use of social media and meme culture.
By the time the National Unity Collective was formed, I had been following Moroccan meme pages employing a right versus left language since 2019 as part of my research on the Moroccan memesphere. With an initial interest in the Facebook meme page called Moroccan Nationalist Memes as one of the leading voices, my list of Moroccan meme pages kept on growing as I included those pages showcasing some version of the Marinid flag as a new nationalist symbol born exclusively online. Coding and analysis revealed that these Facebook pages, over fifty created up until the time of writing this article, are made by Moroccans for a Moroccan audience. Their admins are mostly based in Morocco and their main language of publication is Moroccan Darija with French and English used strategically, for example, to represent in their memes secular liberal activists. Although some of these pages such as Moroccan Secular Right-Wing Republicans have disappeared with time, Moroccan Nationalist memes or the others I followed closely have not been mentioned or deleted in the latest Facebook February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour Report. This work led me to establish two different networks capitalizing on the same historical symbolism and memes of the Moorish Empire: one claiming the Marinid Flag as the symbol of the Moroccan right-wingers; and a second group led by pages such as Moorish History bringing together thirty-one Facebook pages displaying a nationalist however multi-layered understanding of Moroccan history and identity without adhering to a particular political affiliation.
Shaped as a Moroccan neo-nationalist trend without a clear political agenda, the so-called Moorish Movement masks a network of connected pages exhibiting extremists’ ideas in the same way as uncritically referring to fascist online groups with the naïve term "alternative right." According to Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis, conspiracy theorists, techno-libertarian, white nationalists, men’s rights advocates, trolls, anti-feminists, and anti-immigration activists constitute the amalgam of different online radical "alt-right" groups. These trolling groups emanated from imageboards such as 4Chan and Reddit together with meme culture. The focus on images combined with the radical forms of anonymity connected the "alt-right" and meme culture through the motto: the “Left can’t meme.” Such a slogan positions the "alt-right" as the only group daring to forgo morals in order to speak up as originally memes intend to express what is anti-politically correct for mainstream media. As the "alt-right," depicting the far-right as the Moorish Movement dangerously conceal attacks on minoritized groups and anyone who contravenes the status quo behind the moderate right.
The proliferation of what some recent articles in Moroccan French-language media have called the Moorish Movement has brought a new sense of pride for the Moorish identity as the golden era of Morocco’s history. Such a turn to the past brings into play a new form of nostalgic patriotic aesthetics that relies on the Marinid dynasty (1248-1465). Partly due to their success in expanding Morocco’s territory throughout the Grand Maghreb, the Marinids and their flag have become the symbols of the digital Moorish Empire. Although the Marinid Dynasty has never been so prominent as a nationalist symbol, it now professes pride in the Moorish identity born and disseminated within Facebook pages. While French media articles present this movement as a “new-age nationalism,” together with Assabah other journalists have not been as lenient asserting on social media the movement’s bigoted hidden agenda or its connection to the Makhzen. Indeed, framing these pages as one single Moorish Movement obscures the actions of the National Unity Collective profiting from the humorous tone of meme culture and a well-established patriotic sentiment to incur in hate speech against feminists, LGTBQIA+, Amazigh and pro-democracy activists, Black migrants, and minoritized communities.
Demonizing concessions made throughout the years to the left, Amazigh, pro-democracy and feminist activists serves to allure conservative sectors of society who believe in the corruption of contemporary politics. In their memes, the National Unity Collective other any person or group that disturbs what this network considers an attack to conservative Moroccan moral and traditions through slurs such as ruʿāʿ (rabble), awbāsh (riffraff), lhmrdek (fool), and bū-grn (horn headed person). They also employ specific words to insult those who speak about Morocco as a backward country (l-has l-barrānī and al-inbiṭāḥī) or the "woke" leftists (ʿāqfāq). Memes also target specific groups representing this local other such as the feminist M.A.L.I (Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms) and liberal media outlets such as We Love Buzz, JawJab, and Goud. One of the most poignant slurs is against Imazighen nationalists which they call Tamazighnazi. This portmanteau of Tamazigh and Nazi adapted form from feminazi is unique to Moroccan Nationalist Memes as attitudes towards Amazighity is still a contested arena within the Moroccan right and the cultural Moorish Movement. The page Moorish History, for example, shows the Marinid Flag in their profile picture with the word Moorish (ⴰⵎⵓⵔⵉⵢ) and the letter and symbol “ⵣ” both written in Tifinagh alphabet as a way to include Amazighity as an important part of Moroccan identity. Different attitudes towards Amazighity and Moorish Empire evidence that some of the Patriotic Right pages are reluctant to concede space for Amazigh nationalism and others from the Moorish Movement proudly welcome Morocco’s multi-ethnicity.
On its pages, the Patriotic Moroccan right has embraced the nostalgic language of the "alt-right" in their campaign to attract adepts. In line with Trump Presidential campaign, Moroccan Nationalist Memes has drawn on historical symbolisms and meme culture to present themselves as the new and trendy local "alt-right" movement. The promise to return to a greater idealized past is showcased in Moroccan Nationalist Meme’s profile picture. It displays a drawing of late King Hassan II (1965-1999) sporting Trump’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) red cap with the revised motto Make Morocco Great Again (MMGA). Another example of that mirrors the "alt-right" is the use of memes such as Pepe the Frog, popularised during Trump’s presidential campaign. In Patriotic Moroccan Right pages, Pepe often wears the Moroccan traditional djellaba or is wrapped in the national flag. As representative of the conservative Moroccan nation, Pepe the Frog exhibits fantasies of territorial expansion wishing for a return to the historical conquests of North Africa and Spain. Pepe manifests his, and therefore Morocco’s, superiority by subjugating Black sub-Saharan African migrants or human rights activists. The language Moroccan Nationalist Memes use in their Facebook description page supports this ideological rapprochement with the "alt-right": “Here to trigger Lefties / Commies, defend our homeland against Separatists and protect our personal freedoms from Socialism.” Written in English, this description together with their chosen memetic language situates this group within new forms of digital fascism.
Berating external enemies is for the Patriotic Right an easy way of gaining followers. Moroccan Nationalist Memes loathes those in Morocco who celebrate the comradeship between Morocco and Algeria using the Algerian form khāwa khāwa (lit. brothers brothers) to insult them. Enmity with Algeria has served the Facebook page Moroccan Supremacy Club to receive a warning from Facebook threatening to unpublishing their page for continued Community Standards violations concerning hate speech. Believing that behind these reports were Algerian users, the Moroccan Supremacy Club has created a backup page with a profile picture showing Algerian president Adelmajid Tebboune in front of the Moroccan flag. Aggressive attitudes against Algeria, Frente Polisario, and other nations including Spain, France, Egypt, or Turkey situate the Patriotic Right as the foremost defender of the Moroccan nation. Online nationalist fervor is, however, partly encouraged by bots. As the last Facebook Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour report details, 385 accounts and 6 pages were removed targeting domestic audiences to make content and memes praising King Mohammed VI and the Moroccan security forces appear more popular. Even if none of the pages I had been following were affected by this purge, this report evidence Moroccan social media and memesphere as the new battlefield in which to implement, boost, and renew ultranationalist sentiments.
The National Unity Collective is able to portray itself as the (Patriotic) Moroccan Right because of a perceived absence of a well-established self-denominated right-wing political party in Morocco. Since independence in 1956, Moroccan politics have been dominated by nationalist royalists’ parties, socialists, and Islamists with no strong radical populist right-wing party. One could argue that political parties have limited power to carry out policies that specifically respond to right- or left-wing programs due to the fact that part of the ministries are appointed directly by the King. Arguably then, distinctions between left and right within the Moroccan political parliament are irrelevant. In the same vein, the Makhzen has de facto filled the role of right-wing conservative parties by promoting neo-liberal economic policies. Still, a void of parties claiming openly to belong to the Right has left a space for new online networks to build a new movement closer to a far-right, ultra-nationalist, fascist sentiment than a nationalist neoliberal consensus. Whereas the majority of the Moroccan "alt-right" claims to be royalists, the now disappeared Moroccan Secular Right-Wing Republicans proves that there is also space for a right-wing anti-monarchist stream.
The presence on Moroccan digital media of a network that chastises leftists, Black migrants, and feminists while deploying ultra- and ethnonationalist sentiments through memetic figures popularised by the far-right calls for to rethink the Moroccan political spectrum. Such a reformulation should consider the role of social media and meme culture in the birth of digital fascism and the ways in which this political trend is framing nationalist and political discourses in Morocco. This includes the ability of anonymous networks and bots to build networks of participation with the potential of becoming a powerful movement beyond the digital sphere. In turn, competing ideologies behind symbols of the Moorish Empire suggests that political networks, at least online, are imagining Morocco beyond simple left versus right. Whether renewed online narratives will end up converging or whether the Patriotic Right will finally win the battle over the representation of the Moorish Empire, only time will tell. Facebook pages' volatility could lead this movement to easily fade away. For now, the success of these pages and the fact that were once independent Facebook pages have now united into one movement suggest a growing right-wing sentiment. While Eurocentric definitions of left, right, and far-right might not work to uncover the specificities of the political national spectrum, I suggest we need a new set of tools with which to understand the formation of right-wing and far-right groups in this day and digital age.
 While some of these pages were created earlier, such as Imperial Morocco Memes in 2015, most of them were created between 2017 and 2020 such as Moroccan Supremacy Club created in August 2020 with over 10,000 followers by March 2021.
 Marwick, A., & Lewis, R. (2017). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. New York: Data Society Institute https://datasociety.net/pubs/oh/DataAndSociety_MediaManipulationAndDisinformationOnline.pdf