After months of relative quiet in the Moroccan blogosphere, two incidents have everyone talking. One, of course, is the recent case of Mohammed Erraji. The other is the recent news that a police officer has been shot by a distant member of the royal family. The bloggers tell the story…
Au début était le Blog … introduces the latest news:
Décidément, la rentrée est très chaude au Maroc. En voilà un incident qui va ridiculiser un peu plus la justice marocaine. 24 heures après le procès express et grotesque du blogueur Mohamed Erraji, le makhzen* s'illustre à nouveau.
For sure, the back-to-school season in Morocco is heating up. And now we've got another incident that's going to make the Moroccan Justice system just a little bit more ridiculous. 24 hours after the speedy and grotesque trial of blogger Moham Erraji, the makhzen* has distinguished itself once again.
Blogger Metalloman quotes [fr] Le Soir Échos**, which tells the story as it happened:
Le mari d'une princesse (sœur de Hassan II) a tenté d'abattre, mardi a Casablanca un policier en uniforme. Ce dernier lui avait simplement demandé les papiers de la voiture.A la clinique où il a été transporté d'urgence, Tariq Mouhib, policier de la circulation à Casa-Anfa, a du mal à croire ce qu'il a vécu ce mardi 9 septembre 2008. Les yeux larmoyants, il touche l'impact de la balle sur sa cuisse gauche, murmure quelques mots inaudibles, puis replonge dans un état second…
The husband of a princess (sister to [the prior king] Hassan II) shot a police officer in uniform on Tuesday in Casablanca. The latter had merely asked him for his papers and car insurance. In the clinic where he was taken to by ambulance, Tariq Mouhib, traffic officer [stationed at] Casa-Anfa, has difficulty understanding what he lived through this Tuesday, September 9, 2008. With tears in his eyes, he touches the spot where the bullet impacted his left thigh, mumbles a few inaudible words, then falls back into his state of shock…
…A la clinique où il a été transporté, la situation du jeune policier est jugée stable. «C'est une balle à fragmentation. Nous n'avons pu extraire que le gros morceau. Six petites particules sont encore plantées dans la cuisse. Nous ne pourrons nous exprimer qu'après 24 heures», explique un infirmier sur place. Dans la salle de radiologie, le jeune policier est en pleurs. Deux mots reviennent dans sa bouche : «Il m'a traité de bakhouch, de debbane. Je n'ai pourtant fait que mon boulot». Tarik est ensuite placé dans une chambre sécurisée, avec double vitrage. Une infirmière reste constamment a son chevet, pendant que plusieurs commissaires et autres responsables de la wilaya défilent dans les couloirs de la clinique casablancaise. La famille du jeune policier est d'abord interdite de lui rendre visite, mais sa mère est autorisée, exceptionnellement, à le prendre dans ses bras. En quittant la chambre, elle est visiblement sous le choc. Elle murmure des mots inaudibles, avant d'éclater en sanglots : «Je n'ai que deux fils et ils ont voulu me tuer le premier». A la tombée de la nuit : une question est sur toutes les lèvres : qui peut bien être le conducteur de la voiture ? «On sait que c'est quelqu'un de très important et qu'il est proche de la famille royale. C'est tout», affirme un policier présent à la clinique.
…At the clinic where he was taken, the young officer’s condition is deemed stable. “It was a hollow-point bullet. We were able to take out the largest piece. Six smaller particles are still implanted within the thigh. We won’t be able to say more until after twenty-four hours have passed,” explains a nurse present at the scene. In the radiology room, the young officer is in tears. Two words return to his mouth: “He called me bakhouch [insect], debbane [fly]. I was just doing my job.” Tarik is then placed in a secure room with double-paned windows. A nurse is constantly by his side, and for several hours several police commissioners and other top level officials with the wilaya travel back and forth through the clinic’s hallways. The young officer’s family is at first prevented from visiting him but his mother alone is authorized to take him in her arms. Leaving the room, she is visibly in a state of chock. She mumbles a few inaudible words before breaking into sobs: “I only have two sons and they wanted to kill my first one.” As night falls, one question is on everybody’s lips: who could the driver of this vehicle been? “We know that it is someone very important and close to the royal family. That’s all,” concedes a police officer present at the clinic.
A Moroccan About the World Around Him analyzes the situation and is left with this conclusion:
In a democratic country, Al Ya’koubi would have been pulled out of the car and handcuffed at the scene; he would be sitting in jail waiting to appear before a judge to be charged with assault and battery, and attempted murder on a uniformed police officer during the course of official duties. But here in Morocco, the sentence had already been cast the moment he shot and kicked you like a piece of trash, then calmly, remorselessly sat in his car making phone calls and waiting for your colleagues. You would think an insane man would turn his weapon against the crowd.
In a democratic country, even cops are not authorized fragmentary rounds because their use is inhumane and causes devastating internal injury. They are however used by criminals.
In a democratic country, even if, in the goodness of your heart, you decided to forgive your attacker, the government, as a true representative of the people, out of concern for their safety, would not concede its right to unleash the full wrath of the law on a psychopathic criminal who represents a serious danger to people. But here in Morocco, the safety and comfort of your high ranking attacker supersedes that of the common people; he is above the law. From a distorted perspective, you could say that the government is his representative against you.
Does the uniform you so proudly wear make you a representative of the law? A protector of the people? Does it command respect? Not by all it seems. Is there a law that punishes those who disrespect a uniformed officer (let alone shooting and then kicking him)? Of course there is. Will it apply to Al Ya’koubi? Let’s use Erraji as a standard for this one.
Are we all equal before the law, or are some more equal than others?
But I was told that the king does not stand for such overbearing, criminal attitudes as that displayed by Al Ya’koubi, nor does he stand for the actions of the officials who, by their toadyism, deride his efforts to drive Morocco into the 21st century.
This is an epochal moment. Let us hope.
*Makzhen is a term for the governing elite in Morocco, centered around the king and consisting of royal notables, businessmen, wealthy landowners, tribal leaders, top-ranking military personnel, security service bosses, and other well-connected members of the establishment.
**Le Soir Échos is a daily French-language publication in Morocco which is not available online.
Translations by Lydia Beyoud