Stories from Quick Reads and Morocco
Late last year Ghana-based pan-African literary organization Golden Baobab introduced us to a shortlist of talented illustrators, whose work ranged from 3-D Ashanti folktales to intricately drawn Moroccan cityscapes and African barbershop-inspired murals in Durban. Awarded in November, the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators was one of the foundation’s six prizes recognizing the year’s best African writers and illustrators of children’s stories.
A group of hackers calling themselves the “Moroccan Secret Agent” have succeeded in breaching and seizing control [ar] of several Mauritanian governmental websites. The group defaced the websites with slogans insulting the Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and his Algerian counterpart, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, calling the two heads of state “enemies of the Moroccan people.”
Among the websites targeted by the hackers were the Prime Minister's Portal, Mauritania Electronic Portal and the websites of the Ministry of Justice, Mauritanian Deposits and Development Funds, Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, and the National Commission for the Control of Public Tenders.
Activist Baba Ould Deye blamed the breach on the weak security protocols implemented by the Mauritanian Governmental websites [ar]:
المواقع الحكومية الرسمية للجمهورية الإسلامية الموريتانية تحت النار… #موريتانيا أوف لاين
فريق القراصنة المغربي يرسل رسالة سياسية وإختراقه ليس عشوائيا كما في حالة موقع الوكالة الوطنية للوثائق المؤمنة.
لكن الفريق المغربي ليس وحده من مــر علي مواقعنا الرسمية فأصبحت في خبر كان سبقه فريق سوري وآخر تركي وآخر صيني وآخر إيراني …. الخ
أصبحنا سخرية أطفال قراصنة العالم ” هل تريد أن تتعلم الإختراق ؟! هل تريد مواقع ضعيفة وغير مؤمنة لتجرب عليها ؟! إذن إذهب للمواقع الموريتانية ! ”
أين المسؤولون عن تقنية المعلومات في البلد ! عار عليكم سيرفيراتكم وبرامج إدارة المحتوي الموجودة لديكم ونظمكم بشكل عام لم يتم تحديثها منذ سنوات، عار عليكم وقــد حذركم أبناء بلدكم مرارا وتكرار فلم تتعظوا
The governmental and official websites of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania are under fire …. #Mauritania is offline.
The Moroccan hacking group is sending a political message and its breaches are not random, as in the case of the National Agency for Safeguarded Documents.
The Moroccan group aren't the only hackers who have managed to access our official websites, which have became nonfunctional. Before them, there was a Syrian group, a Turkish, a Chinese and an Iranian one.
We have became the laughing stock of the most inexperienced hackers. “Do you want to learn hacking?! Do you want weak and insecure websites to experiment on?! Then go the Mauritanian websites!” they must be telling themselves.
Where are those responsible for information technology in the country? Shame on you, your servers and your content management programs and your systems in general, which haven't been updated in years. Shame on you. Your people warned you over and over again but you did not take heed.
As the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) drastically worsens [fr] (935 000 IDPs as of today), Thione Niang, the Senegalese head of the GIVE1Project and Mehdi Bensaid, a Moroccan MP, calls from the African continent to stand up and show support to the victims of the conflict in CAR [fr]:
Nous ne pouvons plus accepter que des frères s'entretuent sur le sol africain [..] Ainsi doit émerger une nouvelle génération de politiques inquiets pour l'avenir du continent et qui comprennent que servir l'intérêt général est l'unique solution pour résoudre les problématiques de développement en Afrique [..] Nous appelons l'ensemble des parlementaires africains à se préoccuper de la situation en Centrafrique, à inviter leurs gouvernements à s'impliquer davantage dans ses problématiques sécuritaires, à la construction d'une Afrique stable, seule solution possible à une croissance globale et sereine.
We can no longer accept that our brothers are killing each others on African soil [..] A new generation of politicians worried about the future of the continent must emerge, politicians who understand that serving the general interest of all is the unique solution to development issues in Africa [..] We call on all African parliamentarians to address the situation in the Central African Republic and we urge their governments to get more involved in its security issues and build a more stable Africa. This is the only solution to foster a sustainable and peaceful growth across the continent.
The death of Toussaint-Alex Mianzoukouta, a french teacher in Tanger is symptomatic of increasing brutality towards sub Saharan immigrants from the Moroccan police, Afrik Online reports [fr]. Mianzoukouta was not given the opportunity to present his immigration documents before he was taken into the van, the report says. He died from multiple head injuries and leaves behind a wife and two children.
On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:
“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.
The Convention was originally scheduled to pass in January 2014, but was delayed for modifications after protests by the private sector, civil society organizations, and privacy experts—all of whom had very little involvement in the drafting process. But a number of countries promulgated harmful new cybersecurity legislation after it was improved in June.
As Access noted in analyzing both versions of the Convention, the Convention has some positive provisions but still needs strengthening. It requires states to consider human rights in implementing cyber security legislation, but it also supports greater government control of private user data. For example, the Convention permits governments to process private data when “in the public interest,” a confusingly vague standard.
Hicham Lasri is a film maker from Casablanca, Morocco. In his second movie called “C'est eux les chiens” (They are the dogs”), Lasri talks about the evolution of media in Morocco [fr] with the expansion of information technology:
Moi j'ai grandi dans un pays où les informations à la télévision expliquent que tout se passe bien, qu'on est géniaux [..]Forcément c'est une information qui ne dérange pas, qui ne crée pas de troubles, qui permet d'anesthésier la nation. Le film raconte deux événements : les émeutes de 1981 et trente plus tard, en 2011, c'est le printemps arabe. La première révolte en 1981 n'a pas marché parce que l'information ne circulait pas. En 2011, il y a une chaîne de solidarité qui s'est créée. Les gens sont interconnectés. Quand on tape sur quelqu'un tout le monde est au courant et l'indignation va gagner en ampleur. C'est la fin du statu quo.
I grew up in a country where tv news told us that everything was OK, that we are doing great [..] It was the type of information that did not bother anyone, did not create any troubles and anesthetized the nation. The film tells the story of two events: the riots of 1981 and 30 years later, in 2011, the Arab Spring. The first revolution in 1981 did not succeed because the information could not be shared. In 2011, a chain of solidarity has been created. Now people are interconnected. When someone is being beat up, everyone knows and outrage will rise. It's the end of the status quo.
Here is an interview of Lasri talking about the movie [fr]:
Top Francophone economists & diplomats (namely H El-Karoui from Morocco, T Thiam from Côte d'Ivoire, L Zinsou from Benin, J-M Severino and H Vedrine from France) submitted a joint report [fr] that outlines the strategy that France should implement to remain competitive on the African Market in the near future. Joel Té-Léssia highlights 15 key points [fr] from the report, one of which is to do away with the “Zone Franc” policy and to allow the regional currency to fluctuate with respect to the Euros. Té-Léssia also underlines the fact that the report is clearly devised to counter growing influence of China and other emerging nations in the Africa continent. Africa economic growth is projected at 5.2 % in 2014.