| I wander over for a closer look. There is now a buzz of suited men around the group - scribbling in note pads and talking on cell phones. The police are marching in rigid pairs up and down the median on either side of the group. I can't read the banner as it's in Arabic.
Evelyn joins me from where we had been sitting and snaps a few photos with our little point-and-shoot. A member of the group flashes peace signs to the camera but the guys in suits are too engaged to notice us or our camera. Some are busy giving order to the cops who then yank the banner from the demonstrators' hands. The group goes quiet. The men on the outside of the circle turn inward; then outward again and the chanting resumes.
Evelyn snaps a couple more photos and suddenly suited men are on us. Three of them - speaking French and in our faces. Then a head-honcho type speaking English. "You took photos - give me the camera! Who says you can take photos here?" "We're just tourists..." "Give me your film!" We refuse saying we have other photos on the roll.
He demands our passports and we say we don't have them on us. "Then how do I know you're not journalists?"
As much as they aggresively insisted we hand over the camera and follow them to the station, no one had laid a hand on us or gone for the camera in any real way. Thus we began feeling more confident that we could walk away from this mess if we just said the right things.
The adrenaline had slowed a bit and now the psychology of the situation was clear. The head-honco was in front of his underlings and we had to respect his authority. Something else was clear - our original, instinctual reaction that we were free to take photographs was not true here in Morocco. For all we knew, we could go to jail for this.
We apologized. We assured him we're not journalists. We said it wouldn't happen again. And we said we'd be going now. But we didn't walk away until, through some unspoken conveyance, we knew that we could. We didn't look back until we were well out of reach.