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Essay: The Moroccan Revolution Is On Its Way!

In a public petition to King Mohammed VI, dissident Moroccan writer Abdelhak Serhane urges the monarch to embrace the revolution -- or become its target.

Feb. 20 pro-democracy protests in the Moroccan capital of Rabat
Feb. 20 pro-democracy protests in the Moroccan capital of Rabat
Abdelhak Serhane

Majesty! I wish I didn't have to write to you. But the Arab spring shaking the world is forcing me to. I would rather be writing in praise of a modern and democratic Morocco than dwelling on the evils eating away at it. So much regret, disillusionment, anger -- such waste -- that comes when power meets vanity! The king of the poor, as you were once known, has quickly ceded his place to the businessman king, and an entourage of vile courtesans. We hoped to find in you a head of state who oversaw the application of the law, with a plan for society. We got instead a hotel promoter and construction manager.

We were hoping you would be the man who shared our dreams and our daily bread instead of limiting our freedom, killing the faith we had in you, and thus chasing away the nation's bright minds. It's clear that the monarchy continues to act as it has always done with support of the makhzen (Morocco's ruling elite which bears allegiance to the king).

The king of the Moroccans must hear something else besides "Allah Ibarak fi Amar Sidi" (God bless the life of our Lord) that his entourage shouts to him. Fate could have played a nasty trick on you if, for example, you had been born in Sidi Moumen, the slum district on the edge of Casablanca. Then the accumulated billions, the cars, boats, palaces, shopping and lavish luxury might have less worth in your eyes than the love your people had for you when you were crowned in 1999.

In a short space of time, Fouad Ali El-Himma and Mohamed Mounir El-Majidi became the country's masters thanks to their closeness to their friend the king. They took control of all the spheres: business, finance, culture, sports, politics; disgusting us all, like a couple of spoiled brats (la'b adrari) forcing the world into the arms of fast and easy money, wasting the positive opinion your people had of you and turning Morocco upside down. These people have suffocated the political scene, business competitivety, spent public money on nonsense and trampled the constitutional duty of defending the interest of the people. They act in your name, you are therefore responsible for their actions. They have to go; they are a menace to you and an obstacle to the country's development.

The El-Fassi clan (the powerful family from which Prime Minister Abbas El-Fassi hails) has appropriated what is special about Morocco. Its members have taken over the best jobs and the highest pays. The palace gave Abbas the position of Prime Minister despite the Annajat affair (a scandal in which 30,000 young unemployed people were victims of financial fraud through fictitious employment contracts), which occurred in 2003 when El-Fassi was labor minister. Under the rule of law, everyone is accountable and responsible for their actions, even the King.

Facing this universal and increasingly irreversible desire for freedom, how can you stand on the sidelines, hiding behind thick curtains of a lawless state? The flight of Tunisian and Egyptian Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak, the imminent end of Yemeni President Saleh's rule and what looks to be a tragic close to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi's reign… prove that even the most horrible tyrannies come to an end.

Queen Elizabeth and King Juan Carlos exist as symbolic and historic realities. Their people respect them but impose restrictions on them and hold them accountable. Both the Queen of England and the King of Spain have merit because they keep their own future in the hands of democracy. The time for entertainment, travels and outbursts is over. You have to put your hands in the dirt and start working with others in mind, in a transparent way, to accomplish your mission, otherwise Morocco will have to stop being the Alawite's exclusive concession!

In the beginning, you raised expectations and brought hope to simple people. Moroccans have alerted you to their hardships and their rejection of tyranny and injustice. Their maturity and great control should be saluted, you should seize this, your last chance. You must speed up reforms and offer transparent elections. A national unity government, with a roadmap, that listens to the calls for change and calms the anger.

Your responsibility before History is to respond favorably to its plea, because the fate of your constitutional monarchy, guarantor of the country's unity and stability, depends on it. Be the guide your people wish for.

Revolution is in the works. Will it come from you or will it happen to you? If you want it to come from you, you will have to set an example and guide your people on the path to freedom, social justice and democracy. If you do this, we will mobilize behind you in this noble step. If you wish to stand by, the revolution will be launched against you. And in this case it will take everything on its path.

The anger of the poor is clear. The terrorist acts of May 16 2003 – five successive suicide-attacks in Casablanca – put an end to the status quo. The signal comes from a disaffected youth who finds solace only in drugs, flight or death. Unable to identify the message and get back on the right track, your regime went back to the most barbaric practices of the past in the name of the fight against terrorism. You punished us for a word, a caricature, a nokta (joke) about the royal family; a pathological sign of the makhzen that survived Hassan II.

As hard as this is to hear, I want to believe that you respect honest men. I have only my bluntness and integrity to give to the country for which we drew beautiful dreams when we were young. I accept my role as a troublesome intellectual to be on par with myself. Now you must follow your own conscience.

Read the original article in French

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Facing Down The "Violence Stigma" Of Mental Health Illness

Sensationalist TV coverage and even experts still often link mental health struggles and violent crimes, even though people with mental health difficulties commit fewer crimes comparatively. It's time to end the stigma.

Photo of two wooden figurines

Wooden figurines

Sara R. Gallardo

People like me who have mental health disorders suffer more violence than we inflict on others, yet we continue to carry the stigma of being unpredictable and aggressive individuals.

In the "events" section of a morning TV program I saw, for example, there was some news with sensationalist overtones. The first was about a son who had killed his father and the second was about an individual who had beaten another and left him in a coma.

The journalistic decisions in the presentation and commentary of both events were as follows: in the first case, the alleged perpetrator must necessarily have "mental disorders" to justify his conduct. But in the second case, it was not "necessary" to jump to that conclusion because the information focused on the bad reputation of the alleged aggressor, nicknamed "The Nazi".

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