Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Moroccan News Briefs #101

"Daniel Gate" - the drama continues

It is rare for the Moroccan people to take to the streets in protest over an action by Morocco's King, Mohammed VI - but the inclusion of Daniel Galvan in the list of those pardoned by the King on Throne Day caused a massive outcry. The release coincided with a recent visit by Spain's King Juan Carlos.

The 64-year-old Spaniard, jailed in 2011 for raping 11 children aged between four to 15 from 2003 to 2010 was released on Wednesday and left the country on Thursday.

Dozens of people were injured in clashes with police on Friday after thousands protested outside parliament in the capital Rabat. Protesters criticised the pardon as "an international shame" with one demonstrator saying the state "defends the rape of Moroccan children".

Similar demonstrations were broken up earlier on Friday in the northern cities of Tangiers and Tetouan.

"This is the first time Moroccans directly contested a particularly decision of the king," Fadel Abdellaoui, one of the demonstration's organiser's told Al Jazeera.

Protestors in Rabat

One young female student said: "This is the first time I have been to a demonstration because I am outraged by this pardon which has set this paedophile free."

Abdelali Hamiddine, a senior member of the ruling moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development, said the pardon was a "mistake".  "Moroccans have the right to demonstrate when they feel humiliated and the authorities do not have the right to step in so violently."

The response from the Royal Palace was swift. The pardon was canceled on Sunday, August 4 and on Monday the Spanish pedophile was arrested in the southeast of Spain.

Galvan after his arrest in Spain

Daniel Galvan, sentenced in 2011 to 30 years in prison in Morocco for raping eleven children, "was arrested at a hotel in Murcia". He is currently detained at the Police of the city and must be made ​​available to the Madrid court of the National Court, said a ministry spokesman.

The arrest was made ​​by officers of the "National Police Force", which launched the search as soon as Morocco has issued an international arrest warrant against the pédophile.

While it is virtually impossible that the pedophile be repatriated to Morocco to serve the remainder of his sentence, he could serve it in Spain.

But now more reports suggest the 60-year-old man may have actually been a spy.

"The paedophile was released on the request of Spain's secret services," Morocco's Lakome news site reported on Friday, citing Moroccan sources close to the matter.

Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid confirmed in a statement that the prisoner had been freed for "reasons of national security".

"This (pardon) was an agreement between the DGED (the Moroccan secret service) and it's Spanish equivalent, the National Intelligence Centre (CNI)," a Moroccan source told El Pais.

"The Spaniards insisted that he be put in the list and they achieved this," the source told the Spanish paper.

According to El Pais, the convicted paedophile told his lawyer, Mohamed Benjedou, that he was an official of the Iraqi army who had collaborated with foreign secret services in the downfall of Sadam Hussein.

But the lawyer also told the daily the man had worked as professor of Ocean Sciences at Spain's Murcia University.  "I didn't believe him because it's impossible he did both those things at the same time in places so far apart," Benjedou said.

Meanwhile the Royal Palace has instigated a swift search for the cause of the embarrassing release.

The investigation ordered by King Mohammed VI locates the failure at the General Delegation of Corrections and Rehabilitation who retain full responsibility, said a statement from the Royal Cabinet that was released on Monday.

The statement reads:

"From the moment he became aware of the errors that have marred the process of release of Daniel Galvan Fina, His Majesty the King, may God assist him, ordered a thorough investigation be conducted and entrusted the investigation to a committee chaired by the Minister of the Interior and the Prosecutor General of the Court of Cassation. According to the High Royal directives, the investigation focused on determining the responsibilities and points of failure that led to this release.

This survey has helped locate the failure at the General Delegation of Corrections and Rehabilitation and retain full responsibility. The investigation concluded that the administration, when solicited by Royal Cabinet, transmitted inadvertently erroneous criminal person's situation information. Accordingly His Majesty the King gave instructions to proceed with the removal of the CEO of the prison administration. His Majesty the King may God assist reaffirms its strong and continuing commitment to the protection of children and the full respect of the devices of the rule of law."

Abdelhafid Benhachem

The name of the CEO of the prison administration was not mentioned in the press release. But is reported to be Abdelhafid Benhachem.

When asked for his response, Hafid Benhachem accepted the responsibility. "If the investigation concluded that there is a flaw, it is that there is a flaw," he said, "An administration must assume its responsibilities. Anyone worthy must assume the faults of his administration. "

The USA extends embassy closures

Washington's  move to close twenty embassies was motivated by the interception of messages from top officials of Al-Qaeda.  Twenty U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa will remain closed until August 10. Washington says credible threats of attacks instigated by Al-Qaeda had been intercepted, but remaining vague about a possible terrorist plot. Following the American lead Paris and London have decided to extend the closing days of their embassies in Yemen.

Washington launched its warning last Thursday, announcing that at least 25 diplomatic and consular representations (of 222 in the world) would close as of August 4. The United States is in a state of alert, warned Michael McCaul, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives, speaking on CBS as "one of the most credible threats and more accurate than I views since September 11. " An attack appears "imminent," he said.

Peter King, a member of the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, said "the fact that it must be a huge attack and some dates were mentioned too." "We believe that this will most likely happen in the Middle East and around the embassy," he added. "There is a significant flow citing threats and that is why we react," said ABC General Martin Dempsey, Chief of Staff of the U.S. armed forces. According to the senior officer, the threat of al-Qaida cover the whole of Western interests and are "more specific" than he has had, so far. Europeans have followed the Americans, but by being much less alarmist, even more circumspect.

The UK Foreign Office had earlier announced it would shut its mission in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, until Tuesday.Meanwhile, US diplomatic missions in Algiers, Kabul and Baghdad are among those which will reopen on Monday, Washington said. But its diplomatic posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa and Tripoli will remain closed until Saturday.
"By looking into the reasons which led to the emergence of the terrorism phenomenon and its spread... one does not need to think for long to reveal its reality. From a small plant sowed by the Americans in Afghanistan, this phenomenon has become a giant tree, or rather giant trees whose roots and branches extended to include the entire region and the entire world." ~ Editorial in Oman's privately-owned, pro-government Al-Watan
"Even if this is not an attempt to respond to actual information about impending terrorist attacks, the US fears cannot be described as unjustified... Experts attribute increased terrorist activity to a series of organised prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, which saw al-Qaeda members break free along with ordinary prisoners." ~ Andrey Chaplygin in Russia's Novyye Izvestiya

The US state department also added African missions in Antananarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali and Port Louis to the list, meaning a total of 19 US embassies will remain closed this week.

Embassies closed on Sunday, a working day in the Muslim world, included Amman, Cairo, Riyadh and Dhaka. US citizens are advised that all consular appointments have been cancelled and will be rescheduled.

The US embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, which is normally closed to the public on Sunday, said all its facilities would be shut on Sunday and asked "workers not essential for the building's security" not to come in.

The embassy in Morocco is not included in the closures.

Eating during Ramadan - Algerians protest Islamisation by eating

A huge controversy has been sparked in Algeria, in a "lunch against Islamisation" during Ramadan.

Around five hundred Algerians have eaten food and drunk water in public. The action took place on Saturday Aug. 3, in the city of Tizi Ouzou. Protesters were denouncing the "Islamisation of the country ".

In Morocco, people who are not observing Ramadan usually only eat or smoke in private. However, there has been at least one arrest for smoking in public.

Ramadan coming to an end - take care

The end of Ramadan is approaching and it is a time to take extra care on the roads. The highway between Casablanca and Morocco has been the scene of several accidents caused by high speed.

During the final days of Ramadan many people are a little stressed and tired. The extreme hot weather is also a factor, causing people to have lapses of concentration.

In Casablanca the tramway saw two fatal accidents by tram in just 48 hours. Both fatalities are though to have been caused by pedestrian inattention.

Thirteen year old Moroccan wins Quran contest

13-year-old Doha Usaw from Morocco was yesterday crowned the winner of the sixth season of Tijan Annour (Crown of light) Quran recitation contest. Doha is a participant for the third time and was determined to win this year. “This is a great experience. In the past I have come so close to winning, but this year, I finally won the crown of light,” she said.

"I finally won the crown of light"

Nine-year-old Alzubair Alghuzi, also from Morocco, won the second prize and 12-year-old Haroun Abdi from the US the third prize.

Tijan Annour this year received over 1,300 submissions from 54 countries.

JCC also awarded the winners of the Young Muezzin contest, a new feature that gave children an opportunity to compete based on their talent in calling out the adhan or call for prayer. Mahmoud Said, 12, from Egypt bagged the first prize. He cited his grandfather who was a muezzin (someone who gives the call to prayer) as his inspiration. Mohamed Al Tijani, 12, from Sudan won the second prize and Suhaib Nasir, 13, from Yemen the third prize.

Deputy Executive General Manager and Acting Director of Channels, Saad Al Hudaifi, presented awards at the season’s finale, attended by dignitaries, including Hassan Al Dawoodi, Minister of Higher Education in Morocco, and Imam Abdullah Ibn Ali Basfar, President of the Holy Quran Memorisation International Organisation and Guest of Honour.

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pema said...

Is anyone asking why the US embassy in Morocco is excluded from the closures? It would seem obvious for TVFF to ask this Q and publish the response.

The View from Fez said...

The answer is that there is no credible threat to Morocco. The threat was mainly to the middle east