By Youssef Sourgo
By Youssef Sourgo
Morocco World News
Casablanca, August 11, 2013
Before child molester Daniel Galvan was granted the controversial amnesty, Moroccans, the 11 children and their families included, had started to relatively move on after his trial in 2011. Despite the insignificance of his sentence compared to the gravity of his heinous crimes, Moroccans accepted the last word of law and justice and looked forward to a “Daniel-Galvan-less” future.
Today, no Moroccan is ready to forget the name Daniel Galvan, nor his horrific crimes. The pedophile criminal will remain an undesired dark stain on the memory of all Moroccans who learned of his horrible crimes. Images of his dreadful deeds will haunt the minds of the 11 Moroccan children whose innocence he exploited in the worst possible way. He will disturb their lives and those of their families every time his name or crimes similar to his are brought up in the future. The controversial amnesty brought Galvan back into their lives.
The many questions his release raised were queries on “why?,” “who?,” and “how?” such a disaster could have happened. The repercussions of such an ordeal were clearly extremely serious. Moroccans were extremely outraged, others lost their faith in their country once and for all and some were violently suppressed for peacefully protesting another sort of violence, the one against Moroccan children.
It is high time to extract some lessons from the bitter experience that all Moroccans have undergone recently, in sincere hopes that these lessons will assist us all in building a nation immune from Daniel Galvans, a nation that is violence-free and where human rights are uncompromisingly respected.
Precision and discipline is non-negotiable
Danial Galvan was set free on a fine day. It did not happen because he paid for it, nor because of his critical health condition, and even less so because of his exceptional conduct. He was set free because someone, somewhere, did not bother to check whether a list of 48 convicts featured anyone like Daniel Galvan. It was his lucky day.
The higher one’s position, the more responsibility and precision it necessitates. Mistakes made by high officials can never be equated in terms of damage with those made by civil servants. If a mistake in your work would set someone like Daniel Galvan free, then you don’t have the right to make mistakes. If you do, you must assume your responsibility, admit your error, and respond to the gravity of situation.
While the performance of some civil servants is consistently evaluated, that of high officials seems not. Rather than carrying out rigorous investigations after a mistake was made and damage was caused, the work done by everyone without an exception has to be inspected with scrutiny from the very beginning. Inspection is not there to incriminate people; rather, it is there to ensure that fatal mistakes do not go unnoticed. In other words, critical evaluation of high official would engender a culture of more accountability at all levels of government.
Rumors and interpretations are not facts and valid explanations!
Daniel Galvan’s controversial pardon has driven many Moroccans to ask questions of all sorts about his release. The outrage that the abrupt liberation induced rendered Moroccans hungry for explanations. While the government remained silent, the people relied principally on news sources in the quest for plausible explanations.
Now what Moroccans did not realize is that news sources do not provide answers until those concerned obtain them themselves. News sources only provide people with possible interpretations of an event. Whether it was a mistake, a conspiracy or a strategic act are all mere interpretations of the framework in which Daniel Galvan’s release took place. Yet, none of these became a fact until King Mohamed VI’s cabinet started issuing press releases and demystifying matters.
That is why potential interpretations of the implications of a certain controversy should never be taken for granted until matters are made crystal clear. People should never jump to hasty conclusions that are charged with repulsion and vehemence towards a certain party until all parties get the chance to give their own explanations.
By erroneously taking interpretations in the news for facts and actual information, we risk to blur the genuine truth once unveiled by concerned parties. In the affair of Daniel Galvan, many news outlets gave potential interpretations of the reasons behind the controversial pardon he was granted. Some Moroccans, unfortunately, jumped hastily to the polemical ones, erroneously taking them for valid explanations and acting upon them.
Numerous rumors were also sprawled via a myriad of means. While some Moroccans could easily spot and overlook them, others passively endorsed them. The nonsensical rumor that Spain paid for Daniel Galvan’s release was one of them. Many Moroccans took these rumors seriously, disseminated them as facts and acted upon them.
In times of controversy, the passive consumption of news and rumors is the least welcome. A critical lens should always be adjacent. Criticizing possible interpretations of an event is always better than passively picking an interpretation and transforming it into a fact. Rumors should also not be given any attention. They are known by their exaggeration and lack of evidence.
Beating peaceful protesters takes us back a century
Moroccans chose various ways to denounce Daniel Galvan’s release. Some launched petitions to increase punishments against children rapists, and others choose to peacefully demonstrate to show their disapproval of Galvan’s liberation. The latter were countered by unjustified and abrasive violence on the side of Moroccan police forces. What could possibly justify such a reaction to a completely legal and non-violent display of Moroccans’ right to freedom of expression?
Beating peaceful protestors pulls the kingdom back to the medieval age. Human rights advancements become mere myths when police forces, who are normally there to protect civilians, vehemently beat peaceful protesters who were merely expressing their disgust with the release of a pedophile and criminal.
The group of peaceful protesters in Rabat was mainly composed of well-known artists and journalists, most of whom did not hold any political grudge against any party. They stood there as simple citizens among other Moroccans to say no to the release of a children molester. Their reward was getting a taste of the police’s “Zarwata” (the police baton).
Police forces in all nations serve a common goal: ensuring the security and safety of civilians. When police forces do the opposite, their existence, by definition, becomes unnecessary. In this case, the asymmetry of power between police officers and civilians was sordidly exploited. Who was the police protecting in this case? And who directed such a repressive response?
In the kingdom of animals, the powerful makes use of its physical supremacy for a plethora of reasons: to defend its territory or food, to chase intruders away, as a means of self-defense, and so on. Physical power and power asymmetry exists everywhere, but they are dissimilarly exploited.
Peaceful protesters sometimes accelerate the pace of development, as they draw government’s attention to urgent social issues. Their voices are meant to be heard and amplified, rather than oppressed and buried. Unfortunately, if we keep witnessing instances of violence against peaceful protesters regardless of their cause and demands, the development we all aspire for will be in an impossible fantasy.
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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