Behind Erraji’s Arrest

Mohamed Erraji, a blogger from Agadir, was arrested this past Friday for an article he published on the Moroccan e-zine Hespress.com. News of his arrest was reported by Hespress and echoed by a number of fellow bloggers, but has yet to be corroborated. Mohamed’s article (translated to English by Amira Al Hussaini), written in Arabic and titled “The King Indulges His Subjects’ dependency,” dealt with the concept of what Moroccans colloquially call “GRIMA”, from the French word “agrément” meaning “an administrative authorization.” Giving “administrative authorizations” has been a long standing royal tradition in Morocco. Needless to say, such authorizations allow the beneficiary to bypass all set administrative procedures; they strip all laws and regulations designed to regulate such procedures of their integrity. But the concept is so ingrained in the Moroccan psyche that you often here Moroccans from all walks of life pray: “May Allah give us a “GRIMA” from Sidna.” So much so that when the king visits, most of his subjects waiting to greet him become undignified beggars hoping for a “GRIMA.”

The Moroccan judiciary will never concede that Erraji was arrested for his views on the concept of the “GRIMA.” After all, how could anybody be chastised for his/her views in a country the government is telling us is democratic and in which freedom of speech is guaranteed. But after reading Erraji’s article, I could see how he touches two rather sensitive nerves in the Moroccan judiciary and political spheres. Firstly, Erraji is being detained for calumnious statements against the person of the king (commonly known as “biting the hand that feeds you”), an offense punishable under article 41 of the Press Law. Secondly, his comparison of the Moroccan king to the Algerian president Boutaflika and his urging that the Moroccan government should heed to Boutaflika’s advice on the subject and follow his suit is the kind of opposition the Moroccan government equates with treason, especially in these politically turbulent times when the Moroccan/Algerian relations are less than cordial.

It would not be excessively imaginative to think that Erraji is currently not being investigated by the judiciary police, but by elements of the counterintelligence bureau trying to determine his alleged connection to the Algerian intelligence apparatus. 

It would be ironic of course if Erraji, after being politically sentenced by a puppet judge, is granted a royal pardon.

UPDATE: In an expedited trial today in Agadir, Erraji was sentenced to two years imprisonment and 5000 DH ($627.00) fine for libel on the person of the King.

To express your solidarity with Erraji, please send an email to: helperraji@gmail.com.  

Ahmed T. B. Copyright © 2008

About these ads

About cabalamuse

venture down those ominous ways thread into that austere city
This entry was posted in Algeria, Democracy, Freedom of the Press, HUMAN RIGHTS, Journalism, JUSTICE, Mohamed Erraji, MOROCCAN JUSTICE, MOROCCO and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Behind Erraji’s Arrest

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Advocacy » Morocco: Blogger Arrested

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Morocco: Blogger Arrested

  3. adilski says:

    “It would be ironic of course if Erraji, after being politically sentenced by a puppet judge, is granted a royal pardon.”
    I too can see it coming. The Eid Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, will be the perfect occasion for doing so. Yet, a royal pardon will only confirm Erraji’s allegations about the “one-man-show-kingdom.”

    The timing of the arrest is obviously well calculated. They interrogated him on Thursday to see what is the guy is all about. They debated his case overnight, and made the move the following day, Friday. Taking advantage of the weekend, no Human Right advocacy groups or journalists would be able to mobilize or go all the way south to Agadir that quickly. Time was the essence in this case; they obviously expedited the whole thing to beat the crowds to reaching a verdict and checkmating the poor guy.

    You are right. The interogators were concerned about Erraji’s possible connections to other groups. They obtained his email password to go through his email and contact lists.

  4. Pingback: C’est fait: un bloggeur marocain prisonnier d’opinion « Ibn Kafka’s obiter dicta - divagations d’un juriste marocain en liberté surveillée

  5. Reda says:

    I’m not sure that he was arretsed for only the ‘Grima”s artcile. Going through his blog shows many articles where he treats (attacks) the establishment.

  6. cabalamuse says:

    Adil (from UK), thank you for your comment. I understand it reflects the thinking of a segment of the Moroccan population, but I don’t publish anonymous statements. Feel free to write a comment, but leave at least an email address.

  7. I don’t know enough about his comments on Bouteflika (or the situation in general) to know if that hypothesis is justified.

    “Firstly, Erraji is being detained for calumnious statements against the person of the king (commonly known as “biting the hand that feeds you”)”

    That’s ironic, dontcha think? Erraji is, if I understand it correctly, pushing away that same hand as unnecessary. Which I, incidentally, agree with.

  8. Mourad says:

    It is indeed a sad place to be as morocco that is is run by a dictator worst than Saddam Hussein..but if you are friend to USA you can do whatever you want…I know that for fact bcause i am moroccan myself…I hate that gouvernment of morocco and his royal family hypocrit and killers…Free the men that talk about the truth free Erraji Mohamed

  9. Pingback: Global Voices amin´ny teny malagasy » Maraoka: Mpitoraka blaogy nosamborina, avy hatrany dia voasazy

  10. Pingback: Global Voices in Italiano » Marocco: blogger arrestato e processato per direttissima

  11. Pingback: Vox Publica » Fengslet for kongekritikk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s