Akbar Ganji's open letter on Iran

I don't care about Mahmoud Ahmednijad, who is cruel and petty (as opposed to Lee Bollinger, who is just petty), but I do care about this open letter by Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji and co-signed by an A-list of academics and intellectuals. Open Letter from Akbar Ganji to the UN Secretary-General September 18, 2007 To His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, The people of Iran are experiencing difficult times both internationally and domestically. Internationally, they face the threat of a military attack from the US and the imposition of extensive sanctions by the UN Security Council. Domestically, a despotic state has – through constant and organized repression – imprisoned them in a life and death situation. Far from helping the development of democracy, US policy over the past 50 years has consistently been to the detriment of the proponents of freedom and democracy in Iran. The 1953 coup against the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq and the unwavering support for the despotic regime of the Shah, who acted as America’s gendarme in the Persian Gulf, are just two examples of these flawed policies. More recently the confrontation between various US Administrations and the Iranian state over the past three decades has made internal conditions very difficult for the proponents of freedom and human rights in Iran. Exploiting the danger posed by the US, the Iranian regime has put military-security forces in charge of the government, shut down all independent domestic media, and is imprisoning human rights activists on the pretext that they are all agents of a foreign enemy. The Bush Administration, for its part, by approving a fund for democracy assistance in Iran, which has in fact being largely spent on official institutions and media affiliated with the US government, has made it easy for the Iranian regime to describe its opponents as mercenaries of the US and to crush them with impunity. At the same time, even speaking about “the possibility” of a military attack on Iran makes things extremely difficult for human rights and pro-democracy activists in Iran. No Iranian wants to see what happened to Iraq or Afghanistan repeated in Iran. Iranian democrats also watch with deep concern the support in some American circles for separatist movements in Iran. Preserving Iran’s territorial integrity is important to all those who struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran. We want democracy for Iran and for all Iranians. We also believe that the dismemberment of Middle Eastern countries will fuel widespread and prolonged conflict in the region. In order to help the process of democratization in the Middle East, the US can best help by promoting a just peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, and pave the way for the creation of a truly independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel. A just resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state would inflict the heaviest blow on the forces of fundamentalism and terrorism in the Middle East. (continued after the jump...) Your Excellency, Iran’s dangerous international situation and the consequences of Iran’s dispute with the West have totally deflected the world’s attention and especially the attention of the United Nations from the intolerable conditions that the Iranian regime has created for the Iranian people. The dispute over the enrichment of uranium should not make the world forget that, although the 1979 revolution of Iran was a popular revolution, it did not lead to the formation of a democratic system that protects human rights. The Islamic Republic is a fundamentalist state that does not afford official recognition to the private sphere. It represses civil society and violates human rights. Thousands of political prisoners were executed during the first decade after the revolution without fair trials or due process of the law, and dozens of dissidents and activists were assassinated during the second decade. Independent newspapers are constantly being banned and journalists are sent to prison. All news websites are filtered and books are either refused publication permits or are slashed with the blade of censorship before publication. Women are totally deprived of equality with men and, when they demand equal rights, they are accused of acting against national security, subjected to various types of intimidation and have to endure various penalties, including long prison terms. In the first decade of the 21st century, stoning (the worst form of torture leading to death) is one of the sentences that Iranians face on the basis of existing laws. A number of Iranian teachers, who took part in peaceful civil protests over their pay and conditions, have been dismissed from their jobs and some have even been sent into internal exile in far-flung regions or jailed. Iranian workers are deprived of the right to establish independent unions. Workers who ask to be allowed to form unions in order to struggle for their corporate rights are beaten and imprisoned. Iranian university students have paid the highest costs in recent years in defence of liberty, human rights and democracy. Security organizations prevent young people who are critical of the official state orthodoxy from gaining admission into university, and those who do make it through the rigorous ideological and political vetting process have no right to engage in peaceful protest against government policies. If students' activities displease the governing elites, they are summarily expelled from university and in many instances jailed. The Islamic Republic has also been expelling dissident professors from universities for about a quarter of a century. In the meantime, in the Islamic Republic's prisons, opponents are forced to confess to crimes that they have not committed and to express remorse. These confessions, which have been extracted by force, are then broadcast on the state media in a manner reminiscent of Stalinist show-trials. There are no fair, competitive elections in Iran; instead, elections are stage managed and rigged. And even people who find their way into parliament and into the executive branch of government have no powers or resources to alter the status quo. All the legal and extra-legal powers are in the hands of the Iran’s top leader, who rules like a despotic sultan. Your Excellency, Are you aware that in Iran political dissidents, human rights activists and pro-democracy campaigners are legally deprived of "the right to life"? On the basis of Article 226 of the Islamic Penal Law and Note 2 of Paragraph E of Section B of Article 295 of the same law any person can unilaterally decide that another human being has forfeited the right to life and kill them in the name of performing one’s religious duty to rid society of vice. <outbind://39/#_ftn1> [1] Over the past few decades, many dissidents and activists have been killed on the basis of this article and the killers have been acquitted in court. In such circumstances, no dissident or activist has a right to life in Iran, because, on the basis of Islamic jurisprudence and the laws of the Islamic Republic, the definition of those who have forfeited the right to life (mahduroldam) is very broad. Are you aware that, in Iran, writers are lawfully banned from writing? On the basis of Note 2 of Paragraph 8 of Article 9 of the Press Law, writers who are convicted of "propaganda against the ruling system" are deprived for life of "the right to all press activity". In recent years, many writers and journalists have been convicted of propaganda against the ruling system. The court’s verdicts make it clear that any criticism of state bodies is deemed to be propaganda against the ruling system. Your Excellency, The people of Iran and Iranian advocates for freedom and democracy are experiencing difficult days. They need the moral support of the proponents of freedom throughout the world and effective intervention by the United Nations. We categorically reject a military attack on Iran. At the same time, we ask you and all of the world's intellectuals and proponents of liberty and democracy to condemn the human rights violations of the Iranian state. We expect from Your Excellency, in your capacity as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to reprimand the Iranian government – in keeping with your legal duties – for its extensive violation of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights covenants and treaties. Above all, we hope that with Your Excellency's immediate intervention, all of Iran's political prisoners, who are facing more deplorable conditions with every passing day, will soon be released. The people of Iran are asking themselves whether the UN Security Council is only decisive and effective when it comes to the suspension of the enrichment of uranium, and whether the lives of the Iranian people are unimportant as far as the Security Council is concerned. The people of Iran are entitled to freedom, democracy and human rights. We Iranians hope that the United Nations and all the forums that defend democracy and human rights will be unflinching in their support for Iran’s quest for freedom and democracy. Yours Sincerely, Akbar Ganji Endorsed by: 1. Jürgen Habermas (J.W.Goethe Universitaet, Frankfurt) 2. Charles Taylor (McGill University) 3. Noam Chomsky (MIT) 4. Ronald Dworkin (New York University) 5. Robert Bellah (University of California, Berkeley) 6. Alasdair MacIntyre (University of Notre Dame) 7. Orhan Pamuk (Recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature) 8. J.M. Coetzee (Recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature) 9. Seamus Heaney (Recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature) 10. Nadine Gordimer (Recipient of 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature) 11. Mairead Corrigan-Maguire (Recipient of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize) 12. Umberto Eco (novelist, Italy) 13. Mario Vargas Llosa (novelist, Peru) 14. Isabel Allende (novelist, Chile) 15. Robert Dahl (Yale University) 16. Michael Walzer (Princeton University) 17. Seyla Benhabib (Yale University) 18. Cornel West (Princeton University) 19. Michael Sandel (Harvard University) 20. Eric Hobsbawm (Birbeck College, University of London) 21. Stanley Hoffman (Harvard University) 22. Nancy Fraser (New School for Social Research) 23. Philip Pettit (Princeton University) 24. Slavoj Žižek (University of Ljubljana) 25. Daniel A. Bell (Tsinghua University) 26. Nikki Keddie (UCLA) 27. Marshall Berman (City College of New York) 28. Hilary Putnam (Harvard University) 29. Robert Putnam (Harvard University) 30. Alan Ryan (Oxford University) 31. Zygmunt Bauman (University of Leeds) 32. Richard J. Bernstein (New School University) 33. Nicholas Wolterstorff (Yale University) 34. Talal Asad (City University of New York Graduate Center) 35. Joshua Cohen (Stanford University and Boston Review Magazine) 36. Fred Dallmayr (University of Notre Dame) 37. Richard Falk (Princeton University) 38. Harvey Cox (Harvard University) 39. Stephen Holmes (New York University) 40. Andrew Arato (New School for Social Research and University of Frankfurt) 41. Jose Casanova (New School for Social Research) 42. Charles Tilly (Columbia University) 43. David Held (London School of Economics) 44. Joseph Raz (Oxford and Columbia University) 45. Steven Lukes (New York University) 46. Claus Offe (Humboldt University, Berlin) 47. Axel Honneth (J.W.Goethe Universitaet, Frankfurt) 48. Khaled Abou El Fadl (UCLA) 49. Nasr Hamed Abu Zayd (University of Humanistics) 50. Abdullahi An Na’im (Emory University) 51. Saad Eddin Ibrahim (American University of Cairo) 52. Abdulkader Tayob (University of Capetown) 53. Zakia Salime (Michigan State University) 54. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Harvard University) 55. Charles S. Maier (Harvard University) 56. Sara Roy (Harvard University) 57. William A. Graham (Harvard University) 58. Elaine Bernard (Harvard University) 59. Alexander Keyssar (Harvard University) 60. Farid Esack (Harvard University) 61. Kwame Anthony Appiah (Princeton University) 62. Alexander Nehamas (Princeton University) 63. Anne-Marie Slaughter (Princeton University) 64. Jeffrey Stout (Princeton University) 65. Mirjam Kunkler (Princeton University) 66. Partha Chatterjee (Columbia University) 67. Todd Gitlin (Columbia University) 68. Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University) 69. Saskia Sassen (Columbia University) 70. Nadia Urbinati (Columbia University) 71. Arthur Danto (Columbia University) 72. Claudio Lomnitz (Columbia University) 73. Lila Abu-Lughod (Columbia University) 74. Gauri Viswanathan (Columbia University) 75. William R. Roff (Columbia University & University of Edinburgh) 76. Alfred Stepan (Columbia University) 77. Timothy Mitchell (New York University) 78. Tony Judt (New York University) 79. Zachary Lockman (New York University) 80. Adam Przeworski(New York University) 81. Dipesh Chakrabarty (University of Chicago) 82. Fred Donner (University of Chicago) 83. Manuela Carneiro da Cunha (University of Chicago) 84. Avi Shlaim (Oxford University) 85. Richard Caplan (Oxford University) 86. Alan Macfarlane (University of Cambridge) 87. Mary Kaldor (London School of Economics) 88. Paul Gilroy (London School of Economics) 89. Richard Sennett (London School of Economics) 90. Leslie Sklair (London School of Economics and Political Science) 91. Sami Zubaida (Birbeck College, University of London) 92. Veena Das (Johns Hopkins University) 93. William Connolly (Johns Hopkins University) 94. Richard Wolin (City University of New York Graduate Center) 95. Stanley Aronowitz (City University of New York Graduate Center) 96. Adam Hochschild (writer, USA) 97. Rabbi Michael Lerner (Editor, Tikkun Magazine) 98. Cherif Bassiouni (DePaul University) 99. Benjamin Barber (University of Maryland) 100. Ashis Nandy (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) 101. Ariel Dorfman (Duke University) 102. Ziauddin Sardar (City University, London) 103. W. J. T. Mitchell (Editor, Critical Inquiry) 104. Howard Zinn (Boston University) 105. Stephen Lewis (McMaster University) 106. Michael Bérubé (Penn State University) 107. Steven Nadler (University of Wisconsin-Madison) 108. Ernesto Laclau (University of Essex) 109. Chantal Mouffe (University of Westminster) 110. Eduardo Galeano (Writer, Uruguay) 111. Achille Mbembe (University of the Witwatersrand) 112. Robert Boyers (Editor, Salmagundi) 113. Joe Sacco (Graphic Novelist) 114. Adam Shatz (The Nation Magazine) 115. Arjun Appadurai (New School for Social Research) 116. Dick Howard (Stony Brook University) 117. John Esposito (Georgetown University) 118. Ian Williams (The Guardian, online columnist) 119. Ronald Aronson (Wayne State University) 120. Mark Kingwell (University of Toronto) 121. Azyumardi Azra (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta) 122. Norman Finkelstein (American Jewish Dissident Intellectual) 123. David Schweickart (Loyola University) 124. Marcus Raskin (Institute for Policy Studies) 125. Juan Cole (University of Michigan) 126. Carlos Forment(Centro de Investigación y Documentación de la Vida Pública) 127. Ronald Beiner (University of Toronto) 128. David E. Stannard (University of Hawaii) 129. Jonathan Rosenbaum (Film Critic, Chicago Reader) 130. Stephen Eric Bronner (Rutgers University) 131. Katha Pollitt (The Nation Magazine) 132. Charles Glass (freelance writer, Paris) 133. John Keane (University of Westminster) 134. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) 135. Anthony Barnett (openDemocracy Magazine) 136. Murat Belge (Bilgi University, Istanbul) 137. Michael Tomasky (Editor, Guardian America) 138. Thomas McCarthy (Yale University) 139. Daniel Born (Editor, The Common Review) 140. Dušan Veličković (Editor, Biblioteka Alexandria, Belgrade) 141. Chris Toensing (Middle East Research and Information Project) 142. Frank Barnaby (Editor, The International Journal of Human Rights) 143. Douglass Cassel (University of Notre Dame) 144. Nelofer Pazira (President, PEN Canada) 145. Martín Espada (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 146. Douglas Kellner (UCLA) 147. William Shepard (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) 148. David Ingram (Loyola University Chicago) 149. Enrique Krauze (Editor, Letras Libres Magazine, Mexico City) 150. Gavin Kitching (University of New South Wales, Australia) 151. Joel Rogers (University of Wisconsin-Madison) 152. Martin Shaw (University of Sussex) 153. Carl Boggs (National University, Los Angeles) 154. Ahmed Rashid (Journalist, Lahore) 155. Thomas Keenan (Bard College) 156. Rafia Zakaria (Indiana University) 157. Michael Thompson (Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture) 158. Shadia Drury (University of Regina) 159. Courtney Jung (New School for Social Research) 160. Simon Critchley (New School for Social Research) 161. Hussein Ibish (Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation) 162. Christopher Norris (Cardiff University) 163. Vinay Lal (UCLA) 164. Chris Hedges (The Nation Institute) 165. Simon Tormey (University of Nottingham) 166. Melissa Williams (University of Toronto) 167. Sandra Bartky (University of Illinois at Chicago) 168. Thomas Sheehan (Stanford University) 169. James Tully (University of Victoria) 170. Asma Afsaruddin (University of Notre Dame) 171. Pankaj Mishra (writer, India) 172. Martin Beck Matuštík (Purdue University) 173. Stephen Zunes (University of San Francisco) 174. Stephen Kinzer (Northwestern University) 175. Rick Salutin (Columnist, The Globe and Mail) 176. James Reilly (University of Toronto) 177. Ayesha Jalal (Tufts University) 178. Ismail Poonawala (UCLA) 179. Elizabeth Hurd (Northwestern University) 180. Michael Mann (UCLA) 181. Patricia Springborg (Free University of Bolzano, Italy) 182. Henry Munson (University of Maine) 183. Charles Kurzman (University of North Carolina) 184. Rohan Jayasekera (Associate Editor, Index on Censorship) 185. Stathis N. Kalyvas (Yale University) 186. Mary Ann Tetreault (Trinity University) 187. Robert Jensen (University of Texas at Austin) 188. Rashid Begg (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa) 189. Roxanne L. Euben (Wellesley College) 190. Peter Mandaville (George Mason University) 191. Edward Friedman (University of Wisconsin-Madison) 192. Ingrid Mattson (Hartford Seminary) 193. Muqtedar Khan (University of Delaware) 194. Duncan Ivison (University of Sydney) 195. Danny Postel (author, USA) 196. Mariam C. Said 197. Michaelle Browers (Wake Forest University) 198. Tariq Modood (University of Bristol) 199. Ronald J. Hill (University of Dublin) 200. Gregory Baum (McGill University) 201. Tamara Sonn (College of William and Mary) 202. Saba Mahmood (University of California, Berkeley) 203. Mark Juergensmeyer (University of California, Santa Barbara) 204. Lucas Swaine (Dartmouth College) 205. Charles Butterworth (University of Maryland) 206. Carole Pateman (Cardiff University) 207. Amrita Basu (Amherst College) 208. Fawaz Gerges (Sarah Lawrence College) 209. Yong-Bock Kim (Asia Pacific Graduate School for Integral Study of Life) 210. Ann Norton (University of Pennsylvania) 211. Cecelia Lynch (University of California, Irvine) 212. Susan Buck-Morss (Cornell University) 213. Aristide Zolberg (New School University) 214. Craig Calhoun (President, Social Science Research Council) 215. Hagit Borer (University of Southern California) 216. Dennis J. Schmidt (Penn State University) 217. John Ralston Saul (author, Canada) 218. Corey Brettschneider (Brown University) 219. Timur Kuran (Duke University) 220. Paul Chambers (University of Glamgoran) 221. Robert R. Williams (University of Illinois at Chicago) 222. Nicholas Xenos (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 223. W. D. Hart (University of Illinois at Chicago) 224. Louise Antony (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 225. Rama Mantena (University of Illinois at Chicago) 226. Judith Tucker (Georgetown University) 227. Sam Black (Simon Fraser University) 228. Genevieve Fuji Johnson (Simon Fraser University) 229. Shelley Deane (Bowdoin College) 230. Craig Campbell (St. Edward’s University) 231. Samer Shehata (Georgetown University) 232. Mona El-Ghobashy (Barnard College) 233. Jacque Steubbel (University of the South School of Theology) 234. David Mednicoff (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 235. Zeynep Arikanli (Institute of Political Studies, Aix-en-Provence, France) 236. R. E. Jennings (Simon Fraser University) 237. Walid Moubarak (Lebanese American University) 238. Nicola Pratt (University of East Anglia, UK) 239. Ulrika Mårtensson (The Norwegian University of Science & Technology) 240. Jillian Schwedler (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 241. Robert D. Lee (Colorado College) 242. Alice Amsden (MIT) 243. Stephen Van Evera (MIT) 244. Joanne Rappaport (Georgetown University) 245. Douglas Allen (University of Maine) 246. Sharon Stanton Russell (MIT) 247. Matthew Gutmann (Brown University) 248. Louis Cantori (University of Maryland) 249. Catherine Lutz (Brown University) 250. Azzedine Layachi (St. John’s University) 251. Katarzyna Jarecka (Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland) 252. H. C. Erik Midelfort (University of Virginia) 253. Edmund Burke, III (University of California, Santa Cruz) 254. Michael Urban (University of California, Santa Cruz) 255. Susan Moeller (University of Maryland) 256. Laurie J. Sears (University of Washington) 257. Margaret Levi (University of Washington) 258. Ebrahim Moosa (Duke University) 259. Robert Ware (University of Calgary) 260. John Entelis (Fordham University) 261. Juan Linz (Yale University) 262. Malise Ruthven (writer, Scotland) 263. Charles Derber (Boston College) 264. Matthew Evangelista (Cornell University) 265. Adam Michnik (writer, Poland) 266. Norman Birbaum (Georgetown University) 267. Hamza Yusuf (Zaytuna Institute) 268. Carol Gould (Temple University) 269. Nubar Hovsepian (Chapman University) 270. Colin Rowat (University of Birmingham) 271. Bettina Aotheker (University of California, Santa Cruz) 272. Jan Nederveen Pieterse (University of Illinois) 273. Udo Schuklenk (Queen’s University) 274. Alistair M. Macleod (Queen’s University) 275. Nancy Gallagher (University of California, Santa Barbara) 276. Jamie Mayerfeld (University of Washington) 277. William A. Gamson (Boston College) 278. Michael Goldman (University of Minnesota) 279. Jan Aart Scholte (University of Warwick) 280. Koen Koch (Leiden University, The Netherlands) 281. Morton Winston (College of New Jersey) 282. Michael Perry (Emory University) 283. Tony Smith (Tuft University) 284. W. Richard Bond (Brock University) 285. Adrie Kusserow (St. Michael’s College) 286. Nissim Mannathukkaren (Dalhousie University) 287. Justin Tiwald (San Francisco State University) 288. Ásta Sveinsdóttir (San Francisco State University) 289. Feyzi Baban (Trent University) 290. Elzbieta Matynia (New School University) 291. Beverley Milton-Edwards (Queens University Belfast) 292. Awad Halabi (Wright State University) 293. Arthur Goldschmidt (Penn State University) 294. Peter Railton (University of Michigan) 295. Naomi Klein (author, Canada) 296. Paul Aarts (University of Amsterdam) 297. Thomas Mertes (UCLA) 298. Samuel C. Rickless (University of California, San Diego) 299. Emran Qureshi (Harvard University) 300. Donald Rutherford (University of California, San Diego) 301. Terry Eagleton (University of Manchester) 302. Mujeeb Khan (University of California, Berkeley)
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Egypt's attack on the press continues

Egypt jails three journalists:
CAIRO (AFP) - A court on Monday sentenced the editor of an opposition newspaper and two other journalists to two years in jail for "damaging the image of justice", in the latest case against Egypt's media. Al-Wafd's editor Anwar al-Hawari, Mahmud Ghallab and Amir Othman were jailed for "having published untrue information which damaged the reputation of the justice system and the justice ministry", the court ruled. The three, who did not attend the hearing and remain free on bail pending an appeal, were also ordered to pay small fines, a judicial source said. The judge accepted the case filed by several Egyptian lawyers after Al-Wafd had in January quoted Justice Minister Mamduh Mari as saying that 90 percent of Egyptian judges were not up to the job. Mari said he had been misquoted and the lawyers then claimed the reports had indirectly damaged their image. "We are not at war, we didn't reveal military secrets. We only did our job as professional journalists," Hawari told AFP after the sentencing, insisting on the accuracy of the quote.
It's worth noting that this is the same Mahmoud Marei whom, for the past year, has led a multi-pronged attack on the judiciary by cutting salaries, denying funds to independent judges, reassigning them, refusing to meet with Judges' Club leadership for months, etc.
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Bomber strikes Sunni-Shiite reconciliation meeting

Bomber strikes Sunni-Shiite meeting:
BAQOUBA, Iraq - A suicide bomber struck a U.S.-promoted reconciliation meeting of Shiite and Sunni tribal sheiks as they were washing their hands or sipping tea Monday, killing at least 15 people, including the city's police chief, and wounding about 30 others. Two U.S. soldiers were also wounded in the 8:30 p.m. blast at a Shiite mosque in Baqouba, a former al-Qaida in Iraq stronghold about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, who gave the overall casualty toll. The brazen attack, which bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq, represented a major challenge to U.S. efforts to bring together Shiites and Sunnis here in Diyala province, scene of some of the bitterest fighting in Iraq. About two hours after the blast, U.S. soldiers at nearby Camp Warhorse fired artillery rounds at suspected insurgent positions near Baqouba. There were no reports of damage or casualties. Witnesses and officials said the bomber struck when most of the victims were in the mosque courtyard cleaning their hands or drinking tea during Iftar, the daily meal in which Muslims break their sunrise-to-sunset fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
What a terrible, terrible mess.
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White House criticizes Egypt on rights

White House criticizes Egypt on rights:
NEW YORK - The White House on Monday voiced displeasure with recent decisions in Egypt to crack down on dissenting voices within the media and to close a human rights group, saying it is "deeply concerned" about the moves. "These latest decisions appear to contradict the Egyptian government's stated commitment to expand democratic rights," White House press secretary Dana Perino said. The unusual public statement of discontent with the leadership in Egypt came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was having dinner in New York with Egypt's foreign minister.
One supposes that this may have more to do with being embarrassed by the Washington Post again than anything else -- another statement that carries no teeth and serves a domestic purpose.
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Israeli blockbuster: "The Band's Visit"

Egypt and Israel team up for award-winning film 'The Bands Visit':
Written and directed by Israeli filmmaker Eran Kolirin, "The Band's Visit" centers around the plight of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra after it arrives in Israel to open an Arab Cultural Center, only to find itself stranded at the airport without a welcoming committee or place to stay. The band finds an unexpected sanctuary at a café that sits at the outskirts of a remote desert town. Before the night is over, both the Egyptian musicians and their Israeli hosts will have grown a little wiser about their respective cultural idiosyncra
This film won several awards in Israel's version of the Oscars. It sounds potentially funny -- I just hope it's not saccharine, especially as I am allergic to peace orchestras. In any case, one rarely hears about Israeli cinema -- the last thing I saw is the very moving (French-Israeli) film about a young Sudanese boy who pretends to be Falasha Jew to become a refugee in Israel: Va, Vis et Deviens. (Update: You can get it on Amazon France.)
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Blogging Egypt's Factory Strikes

Blogging Egypt's Factory Strikes:
Whether or not this is picked up in the American press shouldn't matter. It's a story to pay attention to, however you can. The textile factory at Ghazl el-Mahalla in the Nile Delta is Egypt's largest, with over 27,000 workers. Nearly all of the factory's workers went on strike last December to demand their yearly bonuses, which had been withheld and which provide most of their annual salary. On Sunday, some 10,000 of those factory workers went on strike again, demanding 150-day shares of annual profits, improved industrial safety, and a raise in their monthly bonuses. Within a few hours the number swelled to 15,000 as Egyptian police surrounded the factory. The Egyptian government quickly declared the strike "illegal." "The numbers of strikers are expected to rise in the coming few hours...the factory is under police siege," according to posts today by Egyptian blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy. His blog, 3arabawy, is one of Egypt's most widely read in English. Along with Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger who gained international attention last year by posting (and continuing to post) videos of police brutality, el-Hamalawy is a go-to source on the rumblings of a wide scale labor movement in Egypt.
Keep track of Hossam's frequent updates to follow news of the strike. And come on, American journalists in Cairo, make the effort to do a different kind of story and head over to Mahalla al-Kubra. They make the best taamiya in Egypt. Update: AP has a report on the arrest of labor leaders.
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Marcel Khalife banned from playing in San Diego?

Update: This story appears confirmed from a press release by Khalife's publicist. Reports are emerging that the great oud player and composer Marcel Khalifé (a UNESCO "Artist for Peace" was barred from giving a scheduled performance in San Diego because the venue felt he should be "balanced out" with an Israeli musician:
Khalifé has a sizable number of North American tour dates ahead of him over the next few months at places like the Kennedy Center and Boston's Berklee College of Music's Performance Hall. In other words, Khalifé ain't no dimestore oud player, and venues who regularly host Lebanese classical music ought to be honored by his interest. That's not the case for San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Theatre at the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, who have forced Khalifé to look elsewhere for a place to play in the area. It's not so much that the Kroc Theatre folks don't like the cut of Khalifé's jib: rather, they feel the show would be "divisive" and "unbalanced" without an Israeli performer taking the stage the same night, according to a press release issued by Khalifé's camp.
This sounds so incredibly stupid I have a hard time believing it's true, but considering these kind of tactics are used by pro-Israel activists routinely against academics, who knows... Update: Once again, unbelievably it appears to be true.
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Kassem given award, Diehl on Egyptian press

It's with great pride that I learned that my friend and former boss Hisham Kassem, until a few months ago the publisher of al-Masri al-Youm, was given a well-earned National Endowment for Democracy 2007 Democracy Award. I also knew that he and the other recipients (from Burma, Thailand and Venezuela) got to spend 55 minutes with President Bush. Today Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl, who has led the newspaper's campaign against the Egyptian regime, raises the issue of press freedom in Egypt and debriefed Kassem about his meeting with W:
The Egyptian publisher Hisham Kassem was in Washington last week to pick up the National Endowment for Democracy's prestigious annual Democracy Award, in recognition of his role in jump-starting a free Egyptian press. Along with two other honorees, he spent nearly an hour in the Oval Office with President Bush, who spoke with feeling about his "freedom agenda" and his intention to pursue it after he leaves office. But Kassem could not help but feel a little depressed. While he was being honored, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was directing a frontal assault against the island of liberty Kassem helped to create in Cairo -- independent newspapers that have subjected Mubarak's rotting autocracy to serious scrutiny for the first time. And hardly anyone in Washington seemed to care. "Egypt was the least of his priorities," Kassem said of Bush, who spoke more enthusiastically during their meeting about pushing for democracy in Burma, Venezuela and Russia. "You can feel Egypt is on the back burner right now. Everyone is in despair about the situation."
Having spent some time with Egypt-watchers in and out of the administration in Washington last May, I came to the same conclusion.
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The Saffron Army

Will break from the tradition of only discussing Middle Eastern issues in solidarity with the Buddhist monk-led protests in Burma/Myanmar:
YANGON, Myanmar - As many as 100,000 anti-government protesters led by a phalanx of Buddhist monks marched Monday through Yangon, the largest crowd to demonstrate in Myanmar's biggest city since a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was brutally crushed by the military. From the front of the march, witnesses could see a one-mile stretch of eight-lane road was filled with people. Some participants said there were several hundred thousand marchers in their ranks, but an international aid agency official with employees monitoring the crowd estimated said the size was well over 50,000 and approaching 100,000.
The BBC World Service had an excellent piece of reportage about the monks on yesterday, if you can find.

Capt.Bk10309240521.Myanmar Protests Bk103

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Haaretz's Gideon Levy: Abbas humiliating his own people

Even Israelis are disgusted with Mahmoud Abbas:
Mahmoud Abbas has to stay home. As things stand right now, he must not go to Washington. Even his meetings with Ehud Olmert are gradually turning into a disgrace and have become a humiliation for his people. Nothing good will come of them. It has become impossible to bear the spectacle of the Palestinian leader's jolly visits in Jerusalem, bussing the cheek of the wife of the very prime minister who is meanwhile threatening to blockade a million and a half of his people, condemning them to darkness and hunger. If Abu Mazen were a genuine national leader instead of a petty retailer, he would refuse to participate in the summit and any other meetings until the blockade of Gaza is lifted. If he were a man of truly historic stature he would add that no conference can be held without Ismail Haniyeh, another crucial Palestinian representative. And if Israel really wanted peace, not only an "agreement of principles" with a puppet-leader that will lead nowhere, it should respect Abbas' demand. Israel should aspire for Abu Mazen to be considered a leader in the eyes of his people, not only a marionette whose strings are pulled by Israel and the United States, or affected by other short-term power plays.
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New campaign for right to drive in Saudi

Saudi Women Petition for Right to Drive:
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 23 -- For the first time since a demonstration in 1990, a group of Saudi women is campaigning for the right to drive in this conservative kingdom, the only country in the world that prohibits female drivers. After spreading the idea through text messages and e-mails, the group's leaders said they collected more than 1,100 signatures online and at shopping malls for a petition sent to King Abdullah on Sunday. Wajeha al-Huwaider of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, co-founded a group urging that women be permitted to drive. The group sent King Abdullah a petition with more than 1,100 names. "We don't expect an answer right away," said Wajeha al-Huwaider, 45, an education analyst who co-founded the group. "But we will not stop campaigning until we get the right to drive."
Really, I don't even see why the (mostly American) press bothered to cover tiny "democratic" improvements in Saudi political life when this retard-run country doesn't even allow women to drive. Every time I am reminded of that ban I shudder at the thought that this is the most influential Arab country. If they have a lot of support, these women should give each other driving lessons and prepare for a wave of civil disobedience.
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Major strike at Nile Delta factory

Hossam is writing a lot today about a massive strike taking place at Ghazl el-Mahalla, apparently the biggest such strike at a major textile factory since the beginning of the year. He has videos and complains the issue is not getting international press coverage. From an activist's account:
After the first day of the strike and sit-in, the picture inside the factory is really amazing. 10,000 people breaking the fast together in Tala’at Harb Sq, located inside the company compound. It’s a scene, which I find no words to describe it with…. The government has started to present some compromises via the head of the Factory Union Committee Seddiq Siyam, in exchange for disbanding the strike. But the stupid forgot he was asking this (strike suspension) while the workers’ emotions and zeal are running at the highest peak you can imagine.. The inevitable happened.. the dude was screwed. The workers almost killed him, seriously I’m not joking. But he was saved at the last moment by the strike leaders.
Al-Masri al-Youm has coverage of the strike, saying there are 27,000 workers partaking (which might make it the biggest strike ever) who are protesting the non-payment of performance-related bonuses. They have made eight demands, including one of political significance such as the removal of the company's chairman and the withdrawing confidence from their representatives in the official (state-controlled) union -- a step that would encourage the formation of independent, parallel union structures. No wonder considering the official union said the strike was illegal and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition political movements was behind the strike. One might ask whether this is going to be different than any previous strike, where generally the government made major concessions fairly quickly. Perhaps not, but it strikes me [no pun intended] that every time you have this kind of situation you have the potential for things to get out of hand and escalate unpredictably... Update: Hossam has some more thoughts on making the link between economic demands and political change.
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Space Muslim

Malaysian Islamic body rules on how to pray, wash and die in space:
"Conditions at the International Space Station which are so different from those on earth are not a hindrance for the astronaut to fulfil his obligations as a Muslim," it said in a 20-page booklet. "In difficult conditions, Islam has conveniences to ensure that religious worship can still be performed." Because the space station circles the Earth 16 times a day, theoretically a Muslim would have to pray 80 times a day while staying there. But the guidelines stipulate that the astronaut need only pray five times a day, just as on Earth, and that the times should follow the location where the spacecraft blasted off from -- in this case, Baikonur in Russia. In the unlikely event the Muslim astronaut dies in space, the religious directives said his body should be brought back to Earth for the usual burial rituals. If that's not possible, he should be "interred" in Space after a brief ceremony, though the guidelines failed to explain how that should be done. The booklet covers Islamic washing rituals required before prayer, saying that if water is not available the astronaut can symbolically "sweep holy dust" onto the face and hands "even if there is no dust" in the space station. There are also suggestions on how to pray in a zero-gravity environment. "During the prayer ritual, if you can't stand up straight, you can hunch. If you can't stand, you can sit. If you can't sit, you should lie down," according to the booklet. Muslims are required to eat food that is halal, which rules out pork and its by-products, alcohol and animals not slaughtered according to Koranic procedures are forbidden -- but again in Space there is flexibility. "If it is doubtful that the food has been prepared in the halal manner, you should eat just enough to ward off hunger," the booklet said.
I wonder how these rules will evolve if there is, say, settlement on another planet or a permanent moon base. I haven't seen this explored in science-fiction, even when there are Muslim characters. What if a planet has several moons -- how would Jews and Muslims decide on calendars?
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Spy or sex tourist?

Israeli in Lebanon under investigation in muder case and on espionage charges - Haaretz:
During questioning, it emerged that Sharon had visited Lebanon 11 times on his German passport over the last two years. He denied allegations he was on an espionage mission and said he was in Lebanon for leisure purposes, according to the source. Media reports said that police in the Merje area, a hotbed of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement in Beirut's southern suburbs, were investigating the killing of Moussa al-Shalaani when the probe led them to Sharon. Al-Shalaani had been shot with a gun belonging to a security officer who had been his roommate. The roommate was summoned for questioning, and maintained that he had lost his gun. The roommate also said that during the time of the murder, he had been with his German friend who was residing at the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Beirut's luxurious Verdun neighbourhood. A hotel employee told the police that Sharon had paid him to not write his full name on any documents. "His conflicting testimonies led the authorities to arrest him, and further investigations are underway in a murder case and espionage," the judicial source said. "He is denying charges of espionage and insists that he is gay and he likes to have sexual relations with Lebanese men and that is why his visits to Lebanon were frequent," the source said. "But further investigations into the case showed that Sharon had a friend in the Lebanese security offices who used to facilitate his entries to Lebanon and with the help of a hotel clerk he managed to hide his real name," the source added. A Lebanese security agent was also held for questioning about his relations with the Israeli man after the two maintained contacts through the Internet, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Lebanon forbids any contacts or dealings with Israel. Lebanon's General Prosecutor Saeed Mirza said investigations were underway into how the story was leaked to the press. During questioning, it emerged that Sharon is well-versed regarding Lebanon, speaks Arabic well and knows how to use he language's many idioms. According to reports, Sharon learned Arabic in the United Arab Emirates from a teacher of Bahraini citizenship. The Lebanese media reported that Sharon kept his cool during questioning and denied accusations that he was a spy.
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Tahawy in Forward on MB

Mona al-Tahawy has a personal story of dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood and explains why she backs their political rights even as she (rightly) finds their views distasteful: I Will Stand Up for the Muslim Brotherhood. I think, even more than the arrests, the sign that there is really a fierce campaign taking place against the MB is that last week they were prevented from hosting their annual Ramadan iftar, which only two years ago was being attended by NDP figures. Symbolically, it is saying that they are considered beyond the pale, which was not the case not so long ago.
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A solemn promise

Dear Arabist readers, I now promise you that even though the New York Times no longer has a paywall I will not link any of its Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd or other moronic commentators and will restrict linking to only the most essential stories or the ones by those NYT writers that actually do a good job (is it to spite me?) like Michael Slackmann.
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More than one million dead in Iraq?

A new poll suggests over one million dead in Iraq since the invasion:
In the week in which General Patraeus reports back to US Congress on the impact the recent ‘surge’ is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003. Previous estimates, most noticeably the one published in the Lancet in October 2006, suggested almost half this number (654,965 deaths). These findings come from a poll released today by O.R.B., the British polling agency that have been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005. In conjunction with their Iraqi fieldwork agency a representative sample of 1,461 adults aged 18+ answered the following question:- Q How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003 (ie as a result of violence rather than a natural death such as old age)? Please note that I mean those who were actually living under your roof. None 78% One 16% Two 5% Three 1% Four or more 0.002% Given that from the 2005 census there are a total of 4,050,597 households this data suggests a total of 1,220,580 deaths since the invasion in 2003.
I am skeptical because, while I'm no statistician, I find the sample rather small and the extrapolation a bit too easy. But then again, this is not my field. The controversial Lancet study, which many think also overstates the number of dead, was at least seen by specialists (although not all of them) as methodologically valid.
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Hillary Clinton against dividing Jerusalem

Clinton vs. Clinton on Israel:
To coincide with the Jewish New Year, fresh statements are coming out of some presidential campaigns reaffirming the candidates' 'pro-Israel' credentials. It's the kind of thing that stretches the thread between domestic political posturing and smart policy prescriptions to a snapping point. It is almost redundant to note that the content of these declarations have precious little to do with advancing what is good for Israel, or, for that matter, US interests. But one sentence from the Hillary Clinton press release of September 10 stands out. (Curiously, the the statement is not up on Clinton's campaign website.)&nbsp; In staking out her position on "Standing with Israel against terrorism," Hillary Clinton defends Israel's right to exist with "... an undivided Jerusalem as its capital." Oddly enough, this places her in direct contradiction with the plan put forward by a certain President Bill Clinton in December 2000.
I doubt she has a one-state solution in mind, either.
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The sociology and economics of vote-buying in Morocco

Yesterday Le Monde published a fascinating analysis of the recent Moroccan parliamentary elections. I am pasting the full article after the jump since I don't think it's available to non-subscribers, and will focus on a choice excerpt here:
En fait, c'est l'abstention sociologique - celle de la masse des marginalisés sociaux - qui s'est le plus amplifiée entre 2002 et 2007, en relation étroite avec le relâchement du maillage social et politique, en ville bien davantage qu'à la campagne (respectivement 30 % et 43 % de participation). D'une part, ces populations craignent beaucoup moins les représailles administratives si elles ne se rendent pas aux urnes. D'autre part, l'introduction du bulletin unique rend le contrôle de l'échange marchand des voix beaucoup plus coûteux : il faut aussi avoir les moyens d'acheter suffisamment de téléphones portables avec appareil photo intégré pour permettre à l'électeur d'attester dans l'isoloir qu'il a rempli sa part du marché ! Il est donc plus difficile de monnayer la voix des " pauvres " contre de l'argent. Dorénavant, ils ont peu à gagner ou à perdre dans une telle transaction. My translation: In fact, it is sociological absentionism -- that of the masses of social marginals -- that has been most amplified between 2002 and 2007, in close correlation with the withdrawal of the social and political lockdown [of former security practices], in cities much more than in the countryside (respectively 30% and 43% participation rates). On the one hand, these populations have much less to fear from security forces if they do not vote. On the other, the introduction of the single ballot makes controlling vote-buying much more expensive [for vote-buyers]: one must have the means of buying enough camera-phones to enable the voter to prove that he has fulfilled his part of the bargain! It is therefore more difficult to exchange the votes of the "poor" for money. From now on, they have little to gain or win in such a transaction.
In other words, even though it is said there was a high amount of vote-buying in the election, vote-buying overall has become more expensive and therefore is necessarily limited. In turn, there is less motivation for vote-sellers to go vote, especially as the relative security/political liberalization of the past decade mean that the state intimidation factor (go vote or else!) once enforced through the ground-level representatives of the Ministry of Interior (moqaddems etc.) is no longer such a compelling reason to vote. Do read the article through the end for a solid analysis of why the Istiqlal party came first -- basically its well-established party machine and network of notables and municipal level supporters across the country. Hence why I have kept hearing that municipal elections (the next ones being in 2009) are more important than parliamentary ones, because they represent a real local-level form of political representation compared to the more abstract parliamentary representation (and everyone complains that they only see their MPs during elections anyway.) Full Article Elections au Maroc : l'héritage d'Hassan II Si la scène électorale s'apparente davantage à un grand souk des voix, le politique se réfugie ailleurs Les deux gagnants des législatives du 7 septembre sont le clientélisme et un abstentionnisme multiforme Au Maroc, le raz de marée islamiste annoncé n'a pas eu lieu. Pour trois raisons. En premier lieu, les effets d'une ingénierie électorale sophistiquée ne sont pas à minorer. Découpage finement ciselé et mode de scrutin de liste à la proportionnelle à un tour interdisent l'émergence d'une majorité absolue. Ensuite, si Hassan II est mort, son héritage demeure plus vivace que jamais. Les analyses électorales effectuées par Rémy Leveau dans les années 1960 permettaient de dégager une carte politique révélant des " blocs massifs de tendances opposées ", reflétant des clivages géographiques, sociaux et culturels qui départageaient les quatre grands partis d'alors. Quarante ans plus tard, le pluralisme social s'est mué en balkanisation politique. Sous Mohammed VI, nul besoin d'accompagner la naissance de partis loyaux : 33 partis étaient en lice le 7 septembre. En troisième lieu, agiter l'épouvantail de l'islamisme - les " classes dangereuses " d'aujourd'hui - est utile politiquement. Mais, on le voit bien, il ne suffit pas de crier " Dieu est grand ! " pour mobiliser les voix de la communauté des croyants. Certes, lors du dernier scrutin législatif, le Parti de la justice et du développement (PJD) est arrivé en première position en nombre de voix, et en seconde en sièges (46 sièges). Dans la tribune de l'opposition, il a succédé à la gauche, après avoir réalisé un syncrétisme entre social-démocratie et tradition islamique réinventée, imprégné de discours moralisateur et identitaire. Actuellement, c'est l'un des partis les mieux organisés et le plus doté en ressources militantes instruites et disciplinées. Mais son ancrage est avant tout urbain. Or les cadres du PJD le savent bien : en ville, il leur manque la grande organisation syndicale que la gauche a contrôlée en son temps. De plus, leurs sections estudiantines, féminines, leurs scouts et leurs associations de bienfaisance sont concurrencés même en milieu urbain par les notables qui disposent d'une manne financière autrement importante. Au village, la compétition est d'autant plus rude que les autorités locales continuent à soutenir plus ou moins discrètement les " défenseurs du trône ". Si le PJD a fait une percée fulgurante lors des législatives de 2002 en présentant des candidats dans la moitié des circonscriptions, c'est aussi parce qu'il avait concentré ses efforts sur les lieux où la démonstration de force était possible. Depuis, le parti a déçu une partie de ses électeurs : sa normalisation accélérée, le souci d'apaiser les élites marocaines et l'opinion publique internationale, ont donné l'impression à certains de ses sympathisants que " le match est vendu ". En revanche, si victoire il y a eu le 7 septembre, c'est bien celle des abstentionnistes (63 % des inscrits contre 49 % en 2002) et du clientélisme électoral. Les chiffres homogénéisent de manière factice la pluralité des voix de l'abstention et des votes " invalides " (19 % des votes exprimés). Ils amalgament réfractaires constants et irréguliers, anciens et nouveaux, indifférents et impliqués, exclus politiques et marginalisés sociaux, " incompétents " et " trop compétents ", etc. Alors que l'abstention active délimite les frontières à géométrie variable entre l'" opposition de Sa Majesté " et l'" opposition à Sa Majesté ", l'abstention passive gagne du terrain et exprime la fameuse " crise de la représentation politique ". Au premier chef, elle repose sur une remise en cause de la classe politique dans son ensemble, islamistes compris. Sur un autre plan, le Parlement et le gouvernement ne sont pas perçus comme des lieux de prise de décision : le pouvoir est ailleurs, au sommet du royaume, dans les commissions et les fondations royales. Paradoxalement, dans cette dernière catégorie d'abstentionnistes, l'on compte aussi bien les adeptes que les pourfendeurs du marketing politique dont fait l'objet Mohammed VI : un roi en campagne permanente à l'image des sultans prestigieux d'antan, comme le confirmait le discours du trône du 30 juillet : " Je m'attache à définir les grandes orientations pour la nation marocaine. (...) Les élections ne consistent pas, au fond, à s'engager dans une compétition inutile et inopportune, à propos des judicieux choix stratégiques de la nation. " Parmi les nouveaux abstentionnistes, signalons aussi les orphelins de la gauche qui n'ont été séduits ni par le PJD ni par les petites formations de gauche. A la source du désenchantement se trouve peut-être l'évaluation des résultats obtenus au sein du gouvernement, mais surtout le fonctionnement interne de l'Union socialiste des forces populaires (USFP), ses ambivalences, les couleuvres que le palais lui aurait fait avaler, son soutien plus ou moins explicite à la répression de journalistes et de diplômés au chômage, la rupture avec les bases, etc. De premier parti en 2002 (50 sièges), l'USFP est devenu le 5e en septembre (38 sièges). En fait, c'est l'abstention sociologique - celle de la masse des marginalisés sociaux - qui s'est le plus amplifiée entre 2002 et 2007, en relation étroite avec le relâchement du maillage social et politique, en ville bien davantage qu'à la campagne (respectivement 30 % et 43 % de participation). D'une part, ces populations craignent beaucoup moins les représailles administratives si elles ne se rendent pas aux urnes. D'autre part, l'introduction du bulletin unique rend le contrôle de l'échange marchand des voix beaucoup plus coûteux : il faut aussi avoir les moyens d'acheter suffisamment de téléphones portables avec appareil photo intégré pour permettre à l'électeur d'attester dans l'isoloir qu'il a rempli sa part du marché ! Il est donc plus difficile de monnayer la voix des " pauvres " contre de l'argent. Dorénavant, ils ont peu à gagner ou à perdre dans une telle transaction. Dès lors, le clientélisme électoral et la dimension censitaire du scrutin (il faut être fortuné pour mener une campagne tambour battant !) sortent revigorés de cette jonction entre libéralisation relative et désenchantement politique. Car il ne faut pas se tromper sur l'interprétation des succès de l'Istiqlal (52 sièges). Depuis sa création, en 1944, le registre nationaliste a fait long feu. Lorsque des candidats du Parti de l'indépendance essayaient de mobiliser les électeurs en leur rappelant " nous avons libéré le pays ", des jeunes leur rétorquaient " vous n'auriez pas dû ". Ce ne sont pas non plus les réalisations des superministres de la jeune garde du parti qui ont rapporté le maximum de voix. Pour l'Istiqlal comme pour le Mouvement populaire (41 sièges) et bien d'autres, la différence a été faite par les machines à fabriquer le vote et à coopter les notables argentés : présidences de commune, quadrillage de certains villages, quartiers populaires et bidonvilles par des leaders locaux, coulés à l'occasion dans le moule des associations. Pourtant, on aurait tort de parler de dépolitisation générale des Marocains. Si la scène électorale s'apparente davantage à un grand souk des voix, le politique se réfugie ailleurs. En témoignent la vigueur de certains mouvements sociaux, les grandes mobilisations en faveur de la Palestine ou de l'Irak, mais aussi l'excitation que manifestent les Marocains lors des présidentielles en France. Lorsqu'il y a des enjeux et de la lisibilité, lorsqu'il est aisé d'identifier un " nous " par opposition à un " eux ", l'implication est intense. Même si, pour l'instant, fragmentation et épouvantails freinent l'exercice effectif du suffrage universel et consolident la voie d'une modernisation semi-autoritaire autour de la monarchie. Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi Professeure à l'Institut d'études politiques et internationales à l'université de Lausanne
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