Moroccan blogger and free speech militant Boubaker Al-Yadib was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $62 by a court in Guelmim. He was charged with vandalizing government property, unlicensed picketing, and assaulting a police officer. Observers believe the charges were fabricated and that the blogger was arrested for covering a student demonstration on 1 December, 2009, and relaying a call by the Moroccan Bloggers Association to mourn the irreversible loss of freedom of speech in Morocco. Al-Yadib, who was on the lam since the December 2009 events of Taghjijte, was arrested on 26 January, 2010; he was extensively interrogated on his militant blogging and associations; he was not officially charged with any crime until the day of his sentencing on 2 February, 2010. The Moroccan Bloggers Association, Reporters Without Borders and other international human rights and free speech advocacy groups condemned his arrest and requested that the Moroccan judiciary reverses its sentencing.
On 7 December, 2009, Moroccan blogger Bashir Hazzem and internet cafe owner Abdullah Boukhou were arrested in connection with the demonstrations that broke out in Taghjijte. Arrest warrants have been issued for eleven other militants.
Al-Yadib’s arrest and the recent government orchestrated liquidation of Le Journal Hebdomadaire snapped our attention back from the monarchic initiated ministerial reshuffle in the first week of 2010, which was initially thought to be a positive presage, to the somber reality of today’s Morocco. The overbearing actions of the government cast a pall of precariousness on the advent of democratic ideals. The specious democratization argument, it appears now, has been nothing more than an ideological restraining strategy. In essence, the political dynamics operating in Morocco have not changed since 1956. We have been stuck in the interregnum between the independence from the French and the promised democracy. Every new government the king appoints is a tool of harassment, repression, and intimidation whittling away at the resilience of Moroccans to effect community driven change. With every new election, the growing sense that our country is politically paralyzed intensifies. We’ve turned the page on the years of lead and we are now living the era of Tungsten. The ripple (it wasn’t anything more than that) of optimism has officially died. The government’s feral attacks on bloggers and independent journalists is an indicator that the tenacious hold of Morocco ‘suborn political elite is weakening in the face of an enlightened and motivated younger generation that is chafed by ideological dogmatism and entertains a welling visceral and silent anger at the managers of the country’s affairs.
A. T. B. Copyright © 2010