Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Stanford University


Photo of Ahmed Benchemsi

Ahmed Benchemsi, MPhil  
Visiting Scholar Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (former)

616 Serra Street
Encina Hall
Stanford, CA 94305

Research Interests
Grassroots democracy movements, Internet activism, political reform under street pressure

Ahmed Benchemsi is a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. His focus is on the democratic grassroots movement that recently burgeoned in Morocco, as in Tunisia and Egypt. Ahmed researches how and under what circumstances a handful of young Facebook activists managed to infuse democratic spirit which eventually inspired hundreds of thousands, leading them to hit the streets in massive protests. He investigates whether this actual trend will pave the way for genuine democratic reform or for the traditional political system's reconfiguration around a new balance of powers - or both.  

Before joining Stanford, Ahmed was the publisher and editor of Morocco's two best-selling newsweeklies TelQuel (French) and Nishan (Arabic), which he founded in 2001 and 2006, respectively. Covering politics, business, society and the arts, Ahmed's magazines were repeatedly cited by major media such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and more, as strong advocates of democracy and secularism in the Middle East and North Africa.

Ahmed received awards from the European Union and Lebanon's Samir Kassir Foundation, notably for his work on the "Cult of personality" surrounding Morocco's King. He also published op-eds in Le Monde and Newsweek where he completed fellowships.

Ahmed received his M.Phil in Political Science in 1998 from Paris' Institut d'Etudes Politiques (aka "Sciences Po"), his M.A in Development Economics in 1995 from La Sorbonne, and his B.A in Finance in 1994 from Paris VIII University.

News around the web

In Morocco, The Arab Spring's Mixed Bounty
The Moroccan government's new strategy is to seek economic growth and curb corruption, but Ahmed Benchemsi says that could lead to a collision with entrenched interests – the elites connected to the king.
February 7, 2012 in NPR

New Morocco Constitution, Election Meant to Avoid Arab Spring-Style Uprising
Ahmed Benchemsi joins PBS Newshour's Ray Suarez for a report on Morocco's attempt at avoiding an Arab Spring-style uprising.
December 24, 2011 in PBS NewsHour

Clock is ticking against Arab autocracies, Benchemsi said
Ahmed Benchemsi, visiting scholar at the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies’ Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL), delivered a talk on Thursday titled, “The Illusion of Democracy: How Morocco’s Absolute Monarchy Managed the Arab Spring.”
October 14, 2011 in The Stanford Daily

Morocco and Press Freedom: A Complicated Relationship
Ahmed Benchemsi: "In December 2006 I was invited to a regional media conference in Beirut, Lebanon. Each Arab country was represented by an independent journalist who was to sketch the situation in his country ... "
September 15, 2011 in Morocco Board News Service

Morocco's Revolutionaries: The Crazy Kids Have Grown Up
"What if we offered a prayer for the soul of bin Laden?" The question was tossed into the meeting of the February 20 Movement like a hand grenade. But the young men and women gathered in the Moroccan Labor Union ...
June 3, 2011 in TIME