Stephen Harper and Human Rights Violations in Morocco

Stephen Harper and Human Rights Violations in Morocco
Posted on December 14, 2014 | Yasser Harrak | Written on December 14, 2014
Letter type:
Blog Post

The European Council of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned of the increasing level of corruption in the Moroccan economy, the weak competitiveness and the inability of the Moroccan government to overcome this situation described as "catastrophic".  The report is making headline news in the uncontrolled electronic Moroccan media today. Three days ago, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) gave Morocco the rate of grave violations of basic human rights. This comes three years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported the inclusion of Morocco as a member of the Deauville Partnership. Morocco has benefited from the announced $15 million contribution to the Transition Fund to help accelerate economic and democratic reform. This is in addition to the annual bilateral disbursements now averaging $8 million. The Harper's support of Morocco is said to encourage democratic reform. Here we present some selected major developments that has occurred in the opposite direction. All in the absence of a responsible foreign policy evaluation in the conservative administration.

Highlights from the 2014 IHEU Report

1- The human right violations in Morocco - according to the IHEU - are grave. Non-religious citizens are banned from office. It is noteworthy to say that non-religious means embracing a belief other than the one embraced by the state. If you are an atheist, a Shia Muslim, a Sufi Muslims or a Christian you are subject to all kinds of discriminations.

2- Religious instruction is mandatory in all or most state-funded schools with no secular or humanist alternative. Religious instruction in some schools is of a coercive fundamentalist or extremist variety.

3- Government figures or state agencies openly marginalize, harass, or incite hatred or violence against the non-religious. It is illegal to register an explicitly Humanist, atheist, secularist or other non-religious NGO or other human rights organization, or such groups are persecuted by authorities.

4- It is illegal to advocate secularism or church- state separation, or such advocacy is suppressed. [1]

The 2014 Moroccan Leaks

On December 10 the Moroccan Foreign Affaires Minister Hamid Mezouar admitted the authenticity of the leaked documents published in the twitter account named Chris_Coleman24. According to the leaked documents, the Moroccan authorities corrupt Western politicians mainly in the USA in return of a favorable position in the issue of Western Sahara. Nevertheless, some documents, later removed from hosting websites, as reported by several news sources and in the social media, show that the Moroccan authorities sponsor a plan aiming at diabolizing the image of Shi’ism using Moroccan diplomatic missions[2]. Morocco was accused in the past of spreading hatred against the Moroccan Shia Muslim community in Europe. Ricardo Gutirez, a journalist in the Belgian newspaper Lesoir,  published an article in March 2012 accusing the Moroccan embassy in Brussels of fueling sectarian hatred along with Saudi Arabia.  For a clearer picture of what this means, let’s replace “Shia Muslims” with “Jews”. Would the Harper government support a Foreign state that officially adopts the slogan "there is no place for Jewish People in Morocco"? Indeed, The Moroccan governments officially and by the action on the ground adopts the slogan: "There is no place for Shia people in Morocco". Canadians expect Prime Minister Harper to prove to them in this particular case that he denounces racism and those behind racism.

Nazi Tendencies in the Moroccan Parliament

The Moroccan Almassae newspaper reported that Hafid Ouechak, a socialist MP,  asked the government to crackdown on Shia Muslims because their religion presents a danger to the spiritual security of the state[3]. Spiritual security is a commonly used expression to describe the state's adopted official religion. Hakim Benchemass, another MP and a leader in the right wing party PAM, made Nazi like comments in the Moroccan parliament urging the minister of Islamic Affaires Ahmed Taoufiq to face the danger of the citizens embracing the other faiths –mainly the Shia Islam -.[4] This is not to mention the Islamist MPs of the Justice and Development party who have made unsurprisingly many Nazi like comments denouncing the right of Moroccan citizens to freely adopt  Christianity or Shi’ism as their faith. There was no disciplinary actions taken against those MPs in Morocco. So if the Conservatives really promote democracy and human rights, can they add those MPs to the persona non grata list?

Miscellaneous Events

There are alarming events that raise the question on whether or not Canada should keep supporting the Moroccan government. If the human rights and corruption situation worsens in Morocco while Canada is increasing unquestionably its support, it may well be concluded that Canada -especially under the conservatives- is supporting global corruption and human rights abuse.  It takes hundreds of pages to list all human rights abuses in recent years in Morocco. Selecting a few examples will be enough for the purpose of this article. The secular Alhewar news website reported that a Moroccan policeman was fired by the police authority because he does not embrace the official state religion. The news site put links to credible documentation regarding that event.[5] Later, the fired policeman confirmed the events after offering a live interview to the London based Fadak TV. The Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Alyawm reported that a group of Salafi youth executed the Sharia law by beating, using a belt like object, a man in public after smelling alcohol in him. The victim was returning from a wedding party in Tangier.[6]  In Tetouan, a number of former convicted terrorists and others involved in publicly recruiting Jihadis to join ISIS have published videos of their gatherings without any intervention by Moroccan authorities.[7] The same authorities prevent Christians, Shias, Baha’is and others from freely organize religious gatherings. Alitihad Alishtiraki newspaper reported that a Swedish man married to a Moroccan woman was taken to a police station for questioning because he was reported to be a Non-Sunni Muslim.[8]  The Sufi Sheikh Nour El Houda El Ibrahimi was attacked by a group of Salafi individuals and survived the attack as a police car happened to pass by coincidently. The Sheikh alleged in his facebook page that members of the Islamist majority party in the Moroccan government were among the attackers.[9] Facebook human rights activists in Morocco published in a page that calls for the freedom of religion a government form that the teachers must complete periodically. The form asks the teachers to declare the religion they embrace.[10]  These were examples only of events on the ground where basic human rights in Morocco are abused in a continuous fashion.

Stephen Harper and the conservative administration must understand that Canadians differentiate between what is said and what is done. The conservative administration said , in the case of Morocco, that it supports the democratic reform in Morocco. A few years later, we are finding that this administration is supporting corruption and human rights abuse. If this administration, for the lack of expertise, did not properly evaluate the situation, it will not have an excuse not to react based on what we just presented.


[1]Freedom of Thought 2014. A Global Report on the Rights, Legal Status and Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists and the Non-Religious (P. 99).

[2] Alif Post, Dec 13th 2014.

[3] Almassae, Dec 8th 2014.

[4] Shia News Agency, June 30th,2013

[5] Retrieved from:

[6] Akhbar Alyawm, August 27t, 2014.

[7] Retrieved from :

[8] Alitihad Alishtiraki, July5th,2014.

[9] Retrieved from:

[10] Retrived from:

About The Author

Yasser Harrak's picture

Alma mater: American Public University (MA, Grad Cert), Concordia University (BA). 


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