Corruption in Morocco: Condemned in Theory, Condoned in Practice
By Adnane Bennis
Morocco World News
New York, January 22, 2013
One fact about Moroccans is that they are well versed in philosophy and theory. They agree to disagree; well, some of them. The other fact about Moroccans is that they are well immersed in passivity. They take no action and fail to implement any theory; well, most of them.
They love to hate corruption, and they lecture each other on the atrocities, calamitous effects of this scourge. Yet, they hate to assume responsibility and never take the initiative to eradicate the root causes of this monstrous social cancer that has spread like a worm and has become multi- dimensional. Probably, they lack the will and perseverance to keep the momentum alive; or simply because they are participating in some sort of a corrupted practice. A hidden culture and an unspoken conventional wisdom that is heard only behind the scenes.
A case in point? There are so many, but I will shed light on a lawsuit that has been taking place in Rabat whose details are currently unfolding. The protagonist of this lawsuit is Mr. Hassan Arif, Moroccan MP who is accused of having raped a young woman, Malika Selmani.
Hassan Arif is a Member of Parliament representing the Constitutional Union Party PUC and president of Aïn El Aouda municipality, 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Rabat. Three years ago, the public official was accused of raping an employee working at the Ministry of Houbous. The victim states that the child she gave birth to is the result of rape inflicted on her by Mr. Arif and that the latter is the father of her son.
Mr. Arif denies all allegations against him. He claims that the relationship he had with the plaintiff was mainly professional and did not exceed the scope of work. Needless to say, the defendant denies that he raped the victim and that her child is his son.
All proof presented by the plaintiff prove that there was a sexual affair and rape most probably.
The evidence to convict the accused is multiple and based on solid foundations. According to Maroc Telecom, which provided the court with the telephone recordings that took place between both parties, Mr. Hassan Arif called the victim 284 times. In addition, the results of the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) tests, which were conducted by the laboratories of the Royal Gendarmerie, unequivocally confirm that the DNA of the innocent child is identical to the DNA of the accused. Now, anywhere in the world, DNA results cannot be refuted and the offender must be found guilty and sentenced accordingly.
Following this indisputable evidence, the Court of First Instance had sentenced the defendant to one year in prison.
It is worth noting that “Article 486” of the Moroccan Criminal Code states that: “Rape is sexual intercourse by a man with a woman without her consent, and is punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years.” According to the abovementioned article, any offender must be sentenced to at least five years in prison. However, the court ruling sentenced Mr. Arif to one year only.
On January 18, 2012, the Court of Appeals acquitted Mr. Hassan Arif of all allegations and set him free.
How can the court ruling find him innocent despite all the evidence proving otherwise? Are we still debating whether the earth is flat or not in Morocco? If not, how can a man whose DNA matches the child’s DNA, be innocent? I call on Mr. Mustapha Ramid to open a thorough investigation into this miscarriage of justice.
Upon hearing of what appears to be a miscarriage of justice, Moroccans have expressed their disgruntlement towards the lack of accountability in the country. What adds insult to injury is to know that the suspect is a member of the parliament.
Frankly, I am not surprised that he is holding a parliamentary seat and neither are many Moroccans who have lost faith in the legitimacy and usefulness of their parliament. In this regard a friend who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity said: “oh my God, I can’t believe we have this (man) in parliament.” Another one said: “How can this man represent us in parliament? How can he defend our causes? As long as he is free and still holding his job in parliament, democracy will be just an empty word in our country.”
The reader won’t disagree when I say that a parliament, to some extent, is the reflection of society. Members of Parliament did not come from another planet, they are Moroccan citizens, who (mis)represent Moroccans. Whether they deserve the responsibility or not is an issue that is beyond the scope of this article. Citizens hold some of them responsible for legislative impotency and blame them for the ubiquitous corruption plaguing our daily life.
Nevertheless, we have to admit that these parliamentarians, such as the one at hand, are not the cause of corruption, they are the consequence. Put simply, political inertia among the youth paves the way to systemic dysfunction within Morocco’s institutions. When the youth stop participating in politics and care less to fulfill their duties by voting in parliamentary elections, they are, accordingly, encouraging misrepresentation and supporting corruption. Boycotting is part of the problem.
These people should ask themselves these questions: Have they changed? Have they changed their attitudes? Have these people stopped the corrupt practices they were complaining about? Have they taken the responsibility to be accountable when they break the law?
Now, if Moroccans were changing, one would be amazed by the influx of news reports, op-eds, and comments on social media platforms denouncing the unaccountability and impunity enjoyed brazenly by public officials. Public opinion would be focused and ready to indulge in discussion. However, unfortunately, it seems the only example when this was the case was during the debate over sexual freedom: It mobilized a part of the public opinion for months; it gave demagogues and populists a golden opportunity to score points at the expense of the issue itself. Everyone criticized “Article 490.” But most significantly, nobody changed his/her behavior.
Apparently, since this is an actual issue, a practical cause of injustice against a woman, nobody cares. No public outcry, denouncement or public campaign has taken place. It seems that we Moroccans condemn injustice in theory, but condone it in practice. An oxymoron, isn’t it? In a country where law-abiding citizens are mocked, considered naïve, what would one expect? In a country where the rule of law is yet to be defined and understood, how can it be enforced? Corruption is not only an act.
Corruption is an attitude. One can either be corrupt or not. Someone who cheats in exams is not smart. He is a corrupt individual. Someone who runs the traffic light is not in a hurry, he is a corrupt individual. Once we understand the notion of corruption, we will embark into self-criticism. For now, we can see the crystal clear picture: We are participating directly and/or indirectly in spreading this cancer.
Adnane Bennis is co-founder and managing editor of Morocco World News. You can follow him on twitter @BennisAdnane
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