By Brahim Koulila
By Brahim Koulila
Kenitra – No people or nation can live in a democratic atmosphere without enjoying the freedom of expression. Since the start of the “Arab Spring,” Arab nations have been clamoring for this right and taking to the streets to defend it, among others rights. However, when people misunderstand this right and abuse it, the results are often catastrophic. Also, when people keep watching the others’ (high-ranking officials) mouths looking for the tiniest and most trivial detail to pretend they have been offended, the freedom of expression, democracy and respect of human rights as concepts, lose their value, and anarchy prevails.
The Moroccan prime minister has been accused of offending Moroccan women. A few days ago, Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane was talking on “Bila hodoud” (Without borders), the famous program broadcast on Al Jazeera. Mr. Benkirane was discussing a political issue when he said “I will not behave like those women who fight in hammams, pulling one another’s hair.” This statement has caused a lot of turmoil and pushed Moroccan women’s activists, who claimed the minister had offended Moroccan woman. These activists asked Mr. Benkirane to condemn what he said; apparently, some people overlook important issues and focus on trivial ones.
Mr. Benkirane did not insult Moroccan women, nor did he show lack of respect towards them. His statement was taken out of its context, and the Moroccan activists really overreacted to what he had said. He wanted to say that he is not a belligerent man. Regardless of his attitude vis-à-vis Moroccan corrupt officials – I totally disagree with his attitude to those who have embezzled our money–; he just tried to use the brawls that sometimes happen between some women in hammams as an example. I do not think that he meant to belittle Moroccan women or tarnish their image. Ostensibly, this was not his objective, not to mention that this man is known for his spontaneity. Had he said, “Moroccan women are known for fighting in public baths,” I would agree with the activists who are asking him to apologize. Do not some women have these situations? Do not some women tend to fight for nothing in such public places as “souks” and “hammams”?
Of course, such things happen. Still, it does not mean that every single Moroccan woman behaves this way or that Moroccan women are barbaric. There are a lot of women in our country whom we should be proud of.
Mr. Benkirane’s statement was somehow misconstrued. I believe that some people have exaggerated regarding this issue and tried to make his speech a cause, so to speak. I cannot not admit that Mr. Benkirane lacks communication skills, which has already pushed some activists and intellectuals to call for replacing him. Many have suggested that he be replaced by Saad Eddine Alothmani, the current minister of foreign affairs, who is said to be calm and a good orator. Still, when it comes to the “hammams” issue, I would not go further than describing it as a slip of the tongue. Again, I want to emphasize that he did not mean to insult Moroccan women or say that every single Moroccan woman fights in the hammam. Indeed, he even did not say if he was talking about Moroccan women or Arab women in general.
Our concerns must be more important than such a slip of the tongue. When we protest against such trivialities, we already contribute to misleading people and making them forget real (political and social) problems. We should address big problems, such as corruption, nepotism, poverty, among hundreds of problems. Our country needs deeds, not talks or zealotry. If the new constitution supports freedom of speech, it sure does not call for muzzling people and punishing them for every single word they say.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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