Representatives of the diaspora condemned the column for misleading public opinion in suggesting there is a unified community stance on Omar Radi’s case.
Rabat – NGOs claiming to represent members of the Moroccan diaspora in France have denounced the “dishonesty” of forum initiators who spoke broadly on the diaspora’s behalf about the diverse community’s position on Omar Radi’s case in an online column published earlier this month.
The column defends the case of Radi with a post under the title “Stop the relentlessness against Omar Radi and the repression of public speech in Morocco.”
The article shows the number of times Morocco’s police summoned the journalist for interrogation, describing his prosecution and detention as part of a “repressive machine targeting Radi.”
The column quoted members of the Moroccan diaspora in France and activists in the country and elsewhere, protesting the alleged “escalation led by the Moroccan state against freedom of expression.”
The NGOs’ response
In response to the claims printed in the column, 130 NGOs representing members of the Moroccan diaspora in France protested the “instrumentalization of the diaspora,” according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The NGOs’ statement quoted by Morocco’s state media said that Orient XXI’s article misled public opinion by claiming to represent “We Moroccans residing in France.”
The response read, “We, NGOs of Moroccans residing in France … strongly denounce the dishonesty of the initiators of this approach who claim to speak on behalf” of fellow citizens living in France.
“They do not have the legitimacy or the moral authority to do so,” the statement argued. Unlike the initiators of the Orient XXI article, the NGOs were clear that they represent thousands of the approximately two million Moroccans in France, rather than the diaspora community at large.
The NGOs representing members of the diaspora also expressed surprise at the “significant presence” of Tunisian organizations or NGOs led by Tunisians among the list of signatories.
“The diaspora considers that the manifest interferes in Morocco’s internal affairs, which is the interest of Moroccans only,” they wrote, contradicting their claim to represent thousands in the Moroccan diaspora in France, not the entire community.
The signatories also include members of the Polisario Front or activists supporting their claims for independence in Western Sahara, the statement from the NGOs said. Upon review, it is unclear which signatories the NGOs reference.
“Our astonishment is even greater since the Polisario leaders are currently the subject of a European parliamentary action for the embezzlement of humanitarian aid, intended for the populations of the Tindouf camps. Their leader, Brahim Ghali, is also accused of crimes against humanity and human rights abuses,” the NGOs wrote.
Omar Radi case
An investigating judge decided to put Moroccan journalist Radi in custody for his alleged invovlement in a “violent rape case” and for “reciving funds linked to a foriegn agent” on July 29.
Hafsa Boutahar, a colleague of Radi, has also accused the journalist of violent rape.
She opened up about her case after Radi claimed what they had was a “consensual sexual relationship.”
In response to Radi’s claims, Boutahar argued that Radi was drunk and that, despite her attempts to stop him, he raped her on July 12.
Omar Radi rejected all of the accusations against him, claiming that he had consensual sexual relations with Boutahar “twice.
The journalist also claimed that Moroccan authorities “have nothing against him” and denied receiving funds from a “foreign agent.”