Why Morocco is not the “Arab exception”

“EARLIER this year the US issued an invitation to African countries to attend the US-Africa Summit. According to the White House, invitations were extended to 50 African leaders who are ‘in good standing’ with both the US and the African Union.
Needless to say that was not the case; Zimbabwe could not attend, for obvious reasons, Eritrea, Sudan and Central African Republic were also not invited because they ‘had bad human rights records’.  Egypt, which was under suspension from the AU, was invited despite that it had just held what had been slammed as a sham election. Morocco, which is not part of the AU, was invited.
Morocco has long presented itself as a great respecter of human rights and is hosting the second annual World Forum on Human Rights on November 27 2014. Human Rights Watch has said that there has been a crackdown on human rights groups in Morocco since July, when Interior Minister Mohammed Hassad criticised unnamed rights groups for falsely accusing security forces of abuses.

forum4Ouafa Charaf, a member of Moroccan Association for Human Rights, was convicted of falsely accusing police of torture in August and given a year in prison. When she appealed on October 20 2014, her sentence was doubled.
Matti Monjib, head of the Ibn Rochd centre for investigative journalism, has announced that he is shutting down his organisation after repeated interference from the government, including having a seminar shut down on October 31 2014. Questioning the legitimacy of the monarchy or the actions of the King is a taboo and it is illegal to question the kingdom’s ‘territorial integrity’, i.e. the virtual annexation of the Western Sahara. In 2005 the well known Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet was ‘banned from practising journalism for 10 years’ and fined 50 000 Dirhams (about 4 500 euros) for reporting about conflict in the Western Sahara, according to Reporters Without Borders.
As of 2007 Lmrabet is still barred from working as a journalist.
Many high-profile Moroccan journalists, such as Aboubakr Jamai, Ali Anouzla, Ahmed Benchemsi and Rachid Niny, have been reduced to silence through a combination of imprisonment, heavy fines, advertising boycott and distribution/withholding of state funds. Many online journalists were sentenced to prison for criticising the King or denouncing rampant corruption by King-appointed governors.
Morocco remains one of America’s oldest allies in the Middle-East & North Africa.ali-anouzla-1
Morocco also assisted the CIA with questioning Al-Qaeda members captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Somalia and elsewhere during the administration of George W. Bush, who designated the country as a Major Non-NATO Ally.
While President Barack Obama has yet to announce publicly his stance on the conflict over Western Sahara, President Bill Clinton set a precedent which President George W. Bush followed. Both Presidents Clinton and Bush sided with Morocco and maintained the position that, “Genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty (is) the only feasible solution.” Additionally, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report issued in December 2008, the official position of the United States government is to support Morocco in the dispute over Western Sahara: “The United States supports the UN effort and has urged the parties to focus on autonomy — a solution that would not destabilise its ally, Morocco.” Militarily, the United States has been the primary source of Morocco’s weaponry in the conflict over Western Sahara. The United States provided the most support for the Royal Moroccan Air Force.”
— The Patriot, Nov. 13, 2014 by Dambudzo Mapuranga [excerpt]

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