In Denial: The Moroccan Government on the Death of Kamal Amari
Kamal Amari, a member of Al Adl wal-Ihsane (Justice and Charity) died of injuries from security forces at protests on Thursday in the city of Safi, 350 kilometers south of Casablanca as reported in an emailed statement from the February 20th youth movement. Mr. Hakim Sikuk, also a member of Al Adl wal-Ihsane relayed,
“The police kidnapped him during the Sunday [May 29] protest and proceeded with his torture before dumping him on the main road several miles out of the city.”
He returned home that Sunday, and the severity of his wounds was not realized until he died in a local hospital this Thursday.
While there is no official government statement on the death of Kamal, an anonymous government official claimed that he died,
“after cardiac arrest resulting from pneumonia at the Mohammed V hospital where he was taken in the morning,”
Though the reasoning behind these differing stories is unknown, it is clearly a feeble attempt to save the image of the Moroccan government.
In the past few weeks, there has been a paradigm shift in the treatment of peaceful protesters in several Moroccan cities. Since the start of the #Feb20 movement Morocco had been an outlier among Arab regimes as protests were legal here and approved by the government. This completely changed when widespread reports of police brutality emerged after the May 23rd protests.
As the Moroccan government still maintains legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of Western media (See my post at Kabobfest on the topic of Morocco in Western media), it is struggling to play an intricate balancing act between keeping protests out of the media while also maintaining its image as the “reformist” “modern” Arab government. In the coming weeks it will be interesting to watch their efforts to uphold this.
While the government has evidently played the card of denial on the death of Kamal Amari, it is easy to read through their faulty cover-up stories. Morocco was recently “invited” to join the Gulf Cooperation Council otherwise known as “The Club of Kings.” The GCC is quickly transforming into a last ditch attempt to maintain the few remaining semi-legitimate Arab authoritarian governments. It is easy to conclude that the Moroccan government is very well aware of threats the #Feb20 movement poses towards the reign of King Mohamed VI. The only questions remaining are how long and to what end the government will strive to preserve its rule.