Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Non-Violent Dissent Pays

Fouad Mourtada reportedly freed yesterday after being granted royal amnesty, having spent nearly two mouths in prison for no tangible reason other than committing a crime of lèse-majesté. Even in Morocco, resilient, perseverant and honest non-violent dissent pays.

The news from Morocco (if confirmed) is a real sigh of relief for many bloggers, and HR activists who campaigned hard to make the case of Fouad known and widely published. But this is not a victory for democracy nor for HR (as the Moroccan writer Laila Lalami rightly pointed out on her blog) because the institutions of the monarchy have acted in clear subservience to the central power. And I don't think that one can feel comfortable yet in a country where people are being imprisoned and later released according to the will and whims of one single person. Anyway, Fouad is now a free man. Until Mourtada's arrest, Moroccans have enjoyed reasonably free access to the internet compared to the regional standards. They rightly spotted the danger of imprisoning Mourtada and they succesfully named and shamed the Moroccan government for what it did. Throughout the Arab World, though, many bloggers and other prisoners of opinion still languish in prisons sometimes without due process or any legal recourse.

By the way, Aid Maulid a'Nabawi Saîd (happy Maulid feast).

3 comments:

Abdelilah Boukili said...

Hi Hisham.
You may have read my comment on BBC WHYS in response to your suggestion for a debate on the show on Fouad Mourtada.

Fouad is now free thanks to the world campaigns and publicity for his release. Red lines in Morocco still continue that one can cross at one's risk. Fouad's case once again raised the issue of the extent of freedom in Morocco. But as you stated internet use is freer in Morocco than in the other Arab countries like Tunisia ands Saudi Arabia where it is heavily censored. His imprisonment and release is sure to continue to raise debates. If there is anything that Fouad Mourtada has benefited from is that he has become world famous and entered history as the first Facebook prisoner!

Hisham said...

Hi Abdelilah! Aid Mubarak Said.

Right! I read your comment on WHYS and have read your post on this issue on your blog.

I must say, it's ludicrous and frankly childish the way the Moroccan power clings to its cherished "sacred values," or red lines as we like to call them. It's really showing to the world how immature and backward the people who claim to want to protect the Makhzen are, in the face of the overwhelmingly uncensorable communication means that Moroccans are now so skilled in using. It's impossible to muzzle people today.

Fouad has done no harm. We may argue that he's foolish... that he has taken stupid risks, but surely he doesn't deserve spending over 40 days in prison with criminals and offenders of all sorts. An engineer for God sake. Instead of mobilizing energies to clean up the public sector and political institutions from sleazy business, the government is employing money, and time in prosecuting perfectly peaceful people and highly skilled Moroccans, for whom the country is badly in need. How do you think people like Fouad will now react if an opportunity is offered for them to work abroad, to serve another country where the air is more breathable, where he's guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression?

Our government is dangerously incompetent!

Thanks for your comment brother.

Wassim said...

Eid Mawlid Nabawi sa3eed to you too ya comrade Hesham!