Selma Benjelloun is slim, shy, discreet and determined. She needs to be in order to enter into a fight with this city’s deafening car horns (klaxons in French)– perhaps the wost that I’ve ever heard, and not only in terms of noise. Almost as soon as you land, your ears are assaulted with urgent honking.
But how do you convince people to stop?
To do this, Benjelloun is counting on the help of her brother, who owns a printing shop, as well as on social media. It’s a true challenge.
“We launched the initiative at the end of January, 2011, right in the middle of Arab Spring,” she explains. “We felt sort of ridiculous attacking noise pollution while the revolutions were taking down entire regimes. But we’re still fighting.”
She uses Facebook and Twitter, among other services, to “use commando tactics to come face-to-face with drivers.” Her group meets at traffic circles at rush hour to distribute stickers and engage in conversation.”
It’s a question of raising awareness into civil action: “honking is an act that only we control. It’s not the government creating the pollution. Stopping it is up to us.”
The movement quickly received a lot of support from the media. But Benjelloun wonders if newspapers and radio and television stations cover it to avoid talking about politics. “It’s a way of showing an example of non-frontal combat against the system. It’s soft news, but there are things outside of confrontation that also work.”
Casablaklaxoon.com (French), the site where she organizes her campaign, means “Casa without klaxons.” If I lived in this city, I would do everything I could to help her to succeed, but the stickers are still rarely seen and a taxi driver told me, “you can’t drive here without a horn.”
Benjelloun has heard even worse than this, someone else telling her, “I’d rather lose my brakes than my horn.”
Is silencing car horns harder than overthrowing a dictatorship?