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Moroccan Blogger Mohammed Erraji Acquitted

The Blogoma, or Moroccan blogosphere, was buzzing today over news of Moroccan blogger Mohammed Erraji‘s acquittal. Erraji was arrested for writing, in the Arabic publication Hespress, that the king's charity toward his people encourages them to remain helpless rather than work hard.

Erraji's case inspired a bit of a renaissance within the Blogoma, reminiscent of when bloggers mobilized in support of Fouad Mourtada, an Internet user arrested earlier this year for creating a fake Facebook profile of another member of the royal family. Inspired by prolific blogger Larbi and DigiActive, bloggers from around the world sent in photos of support and on Monday participated in a blog strike.

And today bloggers are celebrating both Erraji's release and the mobilization of the Blogoma. Myrtus congratulates Erraji and hopes for change:

Congratulations to Mohamed Erraji!

Wishing you all the best! (:

But justice will not be fully served till those who wronged him have been diciplined accordingly. This should never happen again.

This is the perfect opportunity for the justice system to prove it's worth and build the necessary trust. The ultimate goal should be partnership and not constant strife between the citizens and the authorities in Morocco.

For the sake of peace and harmony, let us work together for a country we can all be proud of.
God bless!

Omar el Hyani [fr] is happy about Erraji's acquittal but laments Moroccan justice:

Le blogueur Mohammed Erraji a été acquité par la cour d’appel d’Agadir. Encore une affaire qui finit bien, mais qui montre à quel point notre justice est malade…

Blogger Mohammed Erraji was acquitted by the Court of Appeals in Agadir. Another case that ends well, but that shows how sick our justice system is.


Navire Ivre
[fr] expresses a similar sentiment:

Mohamed Erraji, premier blogueur à subir les foudres des autorités marocaines, a été acquitté en appel après abandonnant des charges retenues contre lui.

Est-ce que sa libération est un nouveau signal des autorités envers la jeunesse marocaine qui s’exprime sur internet, ou une erreur (une exception) qui ne peut faire jurisprudence ?

Mohammed Erraji, the first blogger to incur the wrath of the Moroccan authorities, was acquitted on appeal after charges against him were dropped.

Is it that his release is a new attitude of the authorities towards the Moroccan youth who express themselves on the internet, or an error (an exception) of the law?

Larbi, who had a large part in mobilizing the blogoma, believes that it was this mobilization that so strongly impacted the decision of the judge. He says:

La mobilisation extraordinaire a poussé à accélérer la procédure et arrêter cette mascarade judiciaire. Sans cette mobilisation on n’en serait pas là. Alors bien sûr il est facile de venir après coup dire que ce n’était qu’une erreur judiciaire qui a été « normalement » corrigée. C’est faux, c’est malhonnête.

Il était beaucoup question dans mes écrits du roi Mohamed VI. Je n’entends pas m’en excuser. Encore une fois le fond du problème est celui là : Le roi Mohamed VI règne et gouverne, l’Etat c’est lui, il concentre l‘essentiel du pouvoir, il est dès lors naturel qu’il soit objet de critiques acerbes, excessifs et durs. Et il n’est pas acceptable que cette épée de Damoclès qui s’appelle « atteinte au respect dû au roi » plane sur chacun de ceux qui critiquent le chef d’Etat marocain. Voilà le problème. Maintenant si d’autres préfèrent « blâmer les victimes » (pour reprendre la jolie expression de l’indispensable écrivain Laila Lalami ) c’est leur droit.

Il faut songer à une chose : C’est la première fois dans l’histoire du Maroc qu’un accusé soit acquitté après avoir être poursuivi pour manque de respect dû au roi. C’est la première fois. Tous les procès précédents ont été conclu automatiquement par des condamnations. Alors au vu du lourd casier du Maroc en la matière qu’on ne vienne pas parler d’une simple erreur de justice .

The extraordinary mobilization helped accelerate the process and helped put a stop to this judicial masquerade. Without such a mobilization we would not have reached this outcome. So of course it is easy to declare ex-post-facto that this was simply a judicial error that was “normally” corrected. That is false, that is dishonest.

There was much mention in my writings of King Mohamed VI. I do not plan to apologize for that. Again the bottom line is this: King Mohamed VI reigns and governs, he is the state, he concentrates the bulk of power, it is therefore natural that he be subjected to acerbic, excessive and harsh criticism. It is not acceptable that this Damocles’ sword called “undermining the respect due to the King” hovers over all those who criticize the head of state in Morocco. That is the problem. Now if others prefer to “blame the victim” (to quote the beautiful expression used by most indispensable author Laila Lalami) it is their right.

We must consider something: this is the first time in the history of Morocco that a person is acquitted after being accused of lack of respect due to the King. This is the very first time. All previous trials have ended in automatic convictions. Therefore, given Morocco's heavy record in this matter, how can one speak of a simple error of justice. During the past few days, I saw many people from all around the world mobilized [in solidarity] with Mohamed Erraji. I saw activists and international organizations work hard for his release. Many anonymous and ordinary internet users and citizens. There were also many Moroccan bloggers. Unfortunatly not that many with regard to the “Blogoma”. I have to say that I cannot make a judgement. To each his freedom.

Finally, plus jamais d'illusions… [fr], claiming that “the blogoma is what bloggers make of it,” states:

Erraji a été acquitté pour vice de procédure, mais un autre débat est d’ores et déjà lancé. Difficile d’évaluer l’impact de la mobilisation (très relative) de la blogosphère marocaine dans cette issue heureuse. Difficile aussi de cerner les raisons d’une telle faiblesse de mobilisation (serait-ce le cursus du bloggeur ? La langue d’écriture ? Ou le sujet traité, en l’espèce touchant la personne du Roi?). Peut-être qu’une conjonction de pressions internes et une mobilisation internationale (certains blogs marocains jouant en l’occurrence un rôle d’intermédiaire), un mauvais calcul (selon moi à écarter vue l’existence du précédent de Fouad Mourtada) de la part du pouvoir, un message à passer et qui est déjà bien reçu et assimilé par bien de bloggeurs sur la sensibilité d’aborder certains sujets, ou comme le pensent certains, un excès de zèle, une justice dont les dysfonctionnements sont trop nombreux et un système que le pouvoir a mis en place, entretient, dont il est en principe imputable mais refuse (ou rechigne à) de démanteler car bien commode à blâmer suivant en cela la fameuse fable d’une monarchie bienveillante mais mal entourée et mal servie.

Erraji was acquitted on a procedural flaw, but another debate has already been launched. It is difficult to assess the impact of the Moroccan blogosphere's mobilization (very relative) in this happy outcome. It is also difficult to identify the reasons for weak mobilization (could it be the blogger's background? The language of the writing? Or the topic, in this case involving the King?). Perhaps a combination of internal pressure and international mobilization (some Moroccan blogs in this case playing an intermediary role), a miscalculation (in my view to be excluded given the Fouad Mourtada precedent) on the part of the regime, a message to send and which has already been well-received and assimilated by many bloggers on the sensitivity required when addressing certain issues, or, as some people think, an overzealousness, a justice whose failures are innumerable and a system that has been established and maintained by the powers that be and that they refuse (or are reluctant) to dismantle as it is quite convenient and fits the famous myth of a benevolent monarchy poorly surrounded and badly served.

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