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Morocco: “Daniel Gate” Sparks Unprecedented National Outrage

On the occasion of the Throne Day in Morocco, King Mohammed VI pardoned 1,000 detainees om July 31. The Royal Pardon occurs during big events and is a well established tradition in the Kingdom. But this time, Spanish pedophile Daniel Galván Viña, also referred to as Daniel Fino Galván by some news outlets, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2011 for the rape of 11 children in Kenitra, was among them. Outrage spread like wildfire on social networks as independent Moroccan news network Lakome broke the news.

An action worth a thousand words #RoyalPardon Message received: Spanish pedophile > Moroccan activist.

Popular mobilization

Immediately, online activists started organising action to protest the decision. A Facebook page titled “Tous contre la libération de Daniel Fino Galván” [All against liberation of Daniel Fino Galván] collected photographs of people from all around the world posing with messages calling for the arrest of the Spanish pedophile.

From India to Mexico, reaction to the royal pardon granted to the Spanish pedophile…

On August 2, people took the streets in an unprecedented round of protests in the country, defying the King personally with one question; how could it happen? Reports and footage of violent repression followed from Rabat, where one of the most important protests was held.

New footage showing a female protester being beaten by 3 policemen.

People are being locked up in police trucks. Violent bumps. Intensive beating inside.

The Royal Cabinet issued a press release the next day where it discharged the King of any implication.

Twitter hashtag #Mafrasich [Moroccan Arabic: I didn't know] immediately went viral, blaming the King for such an easy shortcut.

#Mafrasich, or how Moroccans criticise the King on Twitter

Who is Daniel Galván Viña?

The fact that Daniel Galván Viña left the Moroccan territory immediately after his release, with an expired passport, raised even more questions as of the reason why he was pardoned in the first place. His past as an Iraqi spy who worked with Spanish secret services to topple the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein emerged.

Daniel is the only one among the 48 pardoned Spanish nationals who “left” the Moroccan territory? With an expired passport?

If I were Spanish, I would want to know why my government wanted to soften the detention conditions of a pedophile.

Initially disclaimed by both Spanish and Moroccan Royal Cabinets, reports of one list, then two, of specific Spanish detainees given to the Royal Cabinet by the King of Spain during his last visit came to surface. One of them was for a royal pardon, the second for extradition. The Royal Cabinet would have released all 48. Daniel Galván was on the second.

It’s interesting to see the arguments of the leaders of Morocco and Spain. They’re all pretending that they didn’t know anything.

New version according to the Spanish media, claiming that there has been a confusion between two lists; the condemned and the pardoned.

The real story; the crown prince played with the prisoners lists.

A second press release announced the cancellation of the pardon on August 4. Hafid Benhachem, Director General for the prison administration, got removed from his post as a result of the inquiry promised by the King in his first communiqué. Online activists quickly talk of too little, too late:

Is the King aware that he cancelled the pardon?

The King hasn't been informed, didn't apologise, dismisses Benhachem. The latter denies his involvement.

Daniel Galván got eventually arrested in Spain after Interpol issued an international arrest warrant, but without any clear outcome as for where and when he would be tried.

Media blackout

There hasn't been any mention of Daniel Gate in the Moroccan state media, nor of the violent repression against protesters, until August 5, when 2M TV channel organized a debate around the Daniel Galván scandal. El Mostafa Ramid, Minister of Justice, justified the use of violence against the protesters, claiming they were armed.

Friday's protesters had cell phones. In the Moroccan jargon, that counts as a weapon.

Ramid also commented on the arrest of Daniel Galván that occurred earlier that day, and how he could possibly go back to prison:

Ramid: 3 scenarios: extradition (unlikely), pursuit of the charges in Spain, or new trial in Spain.

In a blog post [Fr], Saad El Adraoui ridicules the debate by providing a sarcastic cartoon of the affair. Twitter user Ahmed Benshemsi sums up the Minister of Justice's intervention:

Sum-up of Ramid's interview: 1. I didn't do anything 2. It's all Benhachem's fault 3. The Police had the right to beat the protesters. Or not.

View from Spain

Spain's main opposition party PSOE has referred to the Government's responsibility in this case:

The Government is responsible for solving the situation and making sure Galván ends up in jail.

In the current state of social, economic and political tension in Spain, some tweeps have criticized the way this case has been instrumentalized by the opposition.

(Spain's main opposition party) PSOE criticizes the Government for its “disastrous management” of the child abuser pardoned in Morocco. Anything goes to hit (president) Mariano.

Since Galván was not the only prisoner who received pardon, some users have wondered who are the others.

OK, Daniel Galván was a child abuser. But who are the other 30 Spanish prisoners who have received pardon by mistake?

What's next?

For the first time since the February 20 movement that brought people to the streets two years ago and called for reforms, the Moroccan people united in one voice to denounce what was felt as another blow to their dignity. In a country where protesting the King's judgement can lead to prison, the events of the last few days are a precedence in the Kingdom's history.

Many congratulated themselves for the achievements:

@Atourabi: the Moroccan people did in 3 days what all political parties didn't achieve in several years. Hats off.

Others, more skeptical, consider that this should be a beginning. Moroccan blogger Larbi writes Fr:

Il s’est passé quelque chose durant les derniers jours, qui constitue un tournant. Cette regrettable grâce royale a apporté d’elle-même la démonstration pédagogique et parfaite de ce que beaucoup essayaient en vain d’expliquer : il ne point y avoir de pouvoir sans responsabilité et sans comptes à rendre. C’est l’heure de choix : le palais doit arrêter son hégémonie, se séparer de sa boite noire et abandonner le rôle de monarchie exécutive ou alors il sera fatalement confronté directement à la rue qui demandera des comptes à l’occasion d’autres affaires. A chacun de faire son évolution et en l’occurrence seule l’opinion publique a pour l'instant fait la sienne.

Something happened in the last few days that can be considered as a turning point. This pitiful pardon brought the perfect demonstration of what many tried to explain in vain; there can't be power without responsibilities or giving accounts. It's time for the choice: The Palace must stop its hegemony, abandon its black box [i.g. Royal Cabinet], and drop the role of executive monarchy, or it will have to face the street on other occasions. Each one needs to evolve, and so far, only the public opinion did.

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