l’affaire mourtada

i don’t like facebook too much, it is mainly a waste of time: if i want to contact my friends i prefer to write emails, if i want to satisfy my ego, i update my website. there is really no need for facebook on the web. but these days are so crazy that even facebook can become something to fight for, can become the flag of freedom of expression!
fouad mourtada is a young moroccan engineer and he probably thought that facebook could have been what it claims to be: just fun.

so, what is more fun than creating a fake account on facebook pretending to be someone you are not? maybe even someone famous, like the king’s brother, the prince moulay rachid? fouad did just that. using google he found some pictures of the prince and in a couple of seconds he created the account on facebook. after that, like anyone else, he simply got bored of facebook and forgot about it. he never sent any message to anyone from that account.
but some time later, the police knocked on his door, and his life changed. he was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and judged. modern morocco and its self proclaimed democratic transition (btw, is it a transition “towards” or “away from” democracy?) show no mercy for a young engineer who dared using the name of the prince for a simple game.

internet is literally under control in morocco since a few years. access to several sites has been limited recently for different period of time, some of them are still impossible to access even these days: google-earth, youtube, islamists’ sites, polisaro’s sites.

in other arab countries the situation is not promising anything better. only a few weeks ago, on february 12th, the ministries of communication from countries in the arab league agreed in a written document on the necessity of creating regional restrictions to satellite broadcasting in order not to “negatively affect social peace, national unity, public order, and public morals” and not allow to “defame leaders, or national and religious symbols”. only lebanon and qatar (from where al-jazeera broadcasts) opposed to this documents.

fouad has been convicted to three years in jail, for doing nothing. his story has been covered by the most important international media and he got support from human rights organizations across the globe. the real hope for him comes from moroccan themselves. his friend have created a website to support his cause and next saturday there will be a sit-in in casablanca. if you go there, say for me: “free fouad”.