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Moroccan Blogosphere on Fouad Mourtada: Finally Free

Today marks the celebration in Morocco of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, Eid el Mawlid. On the occassion of big holidays such as this, prisoners are often are granted a special pardon from the king; and this is just what happened over the past few days for 566 people, including the young engineer Fouad Mourtada. Fouad caused a scandal earlier this year when he was sentenced to jail for creating a Facebook profile of the king's brother, Moulay Rachid.

Not only are bloggers throughout cyberspace thrilled about the news, but this event also means for them that an international grassroots collective has been able to push for a resolution to what most deemed a stiff sentence to trumped up charges; in short, the Moroccan blogosphere views Fouad's liberation as a step in the right direction towards improvement of personal freedoms in the Kingdom.

Jamal Hafsi behind “Comment vous le dire” blog writes:

Le jeune ingénieur aura ainsi passé 43 jours de détention. Il a été condamnation en première instance à 3 ans de prison ferme et à une amende de 10.000 dhs. Lui était reprochée l'usurpation de l'identité virtuelle du prince Moulay Rachid sur le site Facebook.

Je suis content que cette affaire se termine ainsi. Faut oublier tout ça !

The young engineer has spent 43 days in prison. At trial he was condemned at trial to 3 years in prison and a fine of 10,000 dirhams [about US$1,350 or 680 British Pounds]. He was punished for virtually impersonating Prince Moulay Rachid's identity on Facebook.

I'm glad this affair is over. We need to forget about all it!”

On Blogoma Research, the statement:

J'ai été surprise et ravie d'apprendre que Fouad a été libéré. À mon avis, la Blogoma et la solidarité affichée ont jouées un rôle énorme.

I was amazed and overjoyed to learn that Fouad was released. In my opinion, the Blogoma and the solidarity it displayed played a huge role.

At Myrtus:

Oh my gosh, I'm at a loss of words…..I'm all choked up and teary eyed!
Your highness, I can't even begin to tell you how much this means to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Barakallahu fik!

The blogger at Maroc Culture writes on a celebratory note:

Enfin une bonne nouvelle concernant cet affaire absurde.
Hier soir, le 18 Mars , Fouad a été libéré de la prison Oukacha par une grâce royale.

C'est cool, ça fait plaisir et je suis très heureux pour lui et ses proches!
On va pouvoir recommencer à sourire en pensant au Maroc. ( non ?)

Finally some good news concerning this absurd affair. Last night, the 18th of March, Fouad was freed from the Oukacha prison by a royal pardon.

This is cool, it makes things better and I'm very happy for him and his family and friends. Now we'll be able to smile again when we think of Morocco (right?)

Blogger Larbi writes at greater length in a post entitled “Fouad Libre: Quel Soulagement!” [Fouad Free: What a Relief"] on Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer!, expressing how the Moroccan blogosphere did it's part to keep Fouad at the forefront of public concern, and what remains to be done:

Allez.. il ne sera pas dit qu’on a laissé tombé Fouad. Il ne sera pas dit qu’on a laissé l’arbitraire judiciaire frapper les internautes. Il ne sera pas dit qu’on ne peut pas changer les choses.

Sans jouer le rabat-joie, il existe bien évidemment d’autres Fouad , d’autres anonymes, condamnés pour d’autres motifs arbitraires, dans d’autres circonstances dramatiques. Ils n’ont pas le chance d’avoir des gens qui se mobilisent pour eux. Ils dormiront encore ce soir et les prochains mois dans les prisons du Royaume. Il faut le rappeler , il faut s’en souvenir. Merci à tous ceux qui pourront quelque chose pour eux. Un jour viendra le Maroc grandira et plus personne ne sera victime de tels procès. Ça ne va pas être fait demain ou après-demain, ça ne va pas être facile d’ici qu’on y arrive, mais voilà ne jamais perdre de vue une chose: on peut y arriver ! Nous en avons le devoir ! Et nous en avons le droit !

Ah les braves gens! Quel soulagement et quel bonheur que Fouad M. soit libéré ! Il faut s’en réjouir , et je m’en réjouit. Content pour Fouad . Pour sa Sœur Amina (quelle abnégation et quelle force cette fille !), pour son frère Ilyass , pour ses parents et pour toute sa petite famille. Mais aussi pour toutes celles et tous ceux, du Maroc et de l’étranger, ont soutenu Fouad sans le connaître, et ont formé ces dernières semaines en quelque sorte sa deuxième famille. Et quelle formidable famille !

It won't be said that we forgot about Fouad. It won't be said that we let an arbitrary judiciary strike out at internet users. It won't be said that we can't change things.
Without playing the party pooper, there are of course many other Fouads out there, other anonymous people, condemned for other arbitrary motives, in other dramatic circumstances. They don't have the good fortune of having people rallying for them. They will sleep this night and in the coming months in the Kingdom's prisons. We must remind ourselves, we must remember this. Thank you to all those who can do something for them. One day the time will come when Morocco grows up and no one will ever be victim to such trials. It won't be tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, it won't be easy to get there from here but never lose sight of things: we can do it! And we must do it! And we have the right to!
Oh you courageous people! What a relief and what bliss now that Fouad is free. We must rejoice, and I am rejoicing. Happy for Fouad. For his sister Amina (what self-sacrifice and what strength this girl has!), for his brother Ilyass, for his parents and his entire family. But all for those who, in Morocco or abroad, supported Fouad without knowing him personally, and who became something like a second family to him in these past few weeks. And what a formidable family!”

Astrid Girardeau at Actu4You summarizes statements made by several Moroccan bloggers and noted figures in a post entitled “Fin du cauchemar” ["The Nightmare's End"]

On indiquait à l’époque que la situation, jugée globalement absurde — car sans plaignant — et disproportionnée, mettait mal à l’aise la police et la justice marocaine. La semaine dernière, dans un article de la BBC sur le mouvement pour la liberté de Fouad Mourtada, Khalid Naciri, ministre de la communication et porte-parole du gouvernement marocain confiait : « sur un plan personnel, cette sentence me semble bien lourde. » Alors, Mohammed VI aurait-il flanché face à la pression internationale ? Ce n’est pas l’avis de Rachid Hallaouy du site Yabiladi qui penche plutôt pour « le geste d’un “homme” qui a utilisé son pouvoir pour donner une seconde chance à un jeune citoyen. »

De son côté, Laurent Pervas de Casaweves, estime que cette affaire montre les contradictions du Maroc :« il n’est pas possible de faire cohabiter longtemps corruption et ouverture économique, décisions de justice arbitraires et démocratie. » Pour résumer la situation, il cite l’un des commentaires du blog d’Ibn Kafka : « excellente nouvelle même si j’aurais préféré que la décision émane de la justice — pour que ça fasse jurisprudence… Et non d’une grâce royale qui ne règle rien. Notre pays a pris un sacré coup en terme d’image et ça démontre la déconnexion d’une certaine classe dirigeante avec le progrès technique, technologique et démocratique auquel aspire chaque marocain. »

At the time it was pointed out that the situation, widely judged as absurd –because there was no plaintiff- and disproportionate, put the police and Moroccan judiciary at ill ease. Last week, in an BBC article on the movement to free Fouad Mourtada, Khalid Naciri, Communication Minister and spokesperson for the Moroccan governments confided: “On a personal level, this sentence seems quite heavy to me.” So then, did Mohammed VI chicken out when confronted by international pressure? That’s not the opinion of Rachid Hallaouy from Yabiliadi, who leans more towards “the gesture of a “gentleman” who used his power to give a second chance to a young citizen.”

For his part, Laurent Pervas at Casawaves thinks that this affair shows Morocco's contradictions: “it is not possible to make corruption and economic liberalism, arbitrary judicial decisions and democracy coexist for very long.” To summarize the situation, he cites on of the commentaries from Ibn Kafka's blog: “good news even if I would have prefered the decision to come from the judiciary -to turn this into jurisprudence…And not from a royal pardon which settles nothing. Our country's image has taken a big hit and it shows the disconnect between a certain elite class and the technical progress, technology and democracy to which every Moroccan aspires.”

  • http://alibinomar.blogspot.com/ nasamat

    Let’s celebrate the Prophet’s Birthday first:

    MUHAMMAD

    What can I say on your day
    When every day is your day ?
    O Muhammad ! O Taha ! O shafi’na on the Last Day !
    From the day you stood to say :
    O Man ! I’m but a man
    Sent to save you, sent to tell you
    The way that’ll lead you away
    From the one who led you astray
    To the One Who made you ’n the best way
    And gave you beauty and bounty in every way
    And will yet give you joy where you’ll stay
    For ever and ever, as you say !
    From that day,
    O Muhammad ! O Taha ! O shafi’na on the Last Day !
    Men came to you on foot and horseback ;
    They said as you said
    And prayed as you prayed
    And when attacked, they fought back.
    You lived in a shack
    While your beauty was brighter than the moon ;
    You ate with your hands
    While one with your beauty would use a gold spoon ;
    You sat on the sands
    While one with your glory
    Would build himself storey upon storey :
    And that’s why your story
    Has gone as far as Brunei and Zinjibar
    And London and New York
    Where people eat with a knife and fork,
    They too say as you said
    And pray as you prayed
    And when wrongly questioned, they answer back.
    O Muhammad ! O Taha ! O shafi’na on the Last Day !
    What can I say on your day
    When every day is your day ?
    From just a few those who came to you
    Filled every hill, swamped every dale,
    They made Time stand still till their tale
    Made the mightiest kingdoms frail
    And brought the Muslim flag as close as Prague !
    The Arabian Nights tells of made-up knights
    And of Harun al-Rasheed
    Whose life the Truth of your Message
    Made eed upon eed !
    And yet someone came to draw
    A pic of a man whose peer he never saw,
    And papers and commentators
    Seeking cheap money and fake glory
    Made every story
    Out of the Story of the man whose glory
    Defies all Posts and all Tribunes and all Times !
    O Muhammad ! O Taha ! O shafi’na on the Last Day !
    What can I say on your day
    When every day is your day ?
    When your name has brought fame
    To a Dane who became insane ?
    What can I say on your day
    When night and day
    Souls repeat your words
    As if they were songs of jungle birds !
    Peace be upon you and all those who followed your way !
    O Muhammad ! O Taha ! O shafi’na on the Last Day !

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