Morocco mourns Political Activist Abraham Serfaty

[Reuters/Jean Blondin] Abraham Serfaty spent decades campaigning for human rights in Morocco.

Via MoroccoBoard.com, here is an article by NAOUFEL CHERKAOUI on the passing of a major Moroccan figure:

Moroccan Jewish political activist Abraham Serfaty died on Thursday (November 18th) in a Marrakech hospital at the age of 84. He was known to be one of the strongest dissidents against the regime of the late King Hassan II, and was arrested several times, both before and after Morocco’s independence.

“Abraham Serfaty was a leading activist and a founder of the New Leftist Movement,” Unified Socialist Party (PSU) Secretary-General Mohamed Moujahid told Magharebia. “He also worked for the independence of Morocco, and offered great sacrifices as part of the national struggle during the colonization. He broke records in political detention in his endeavor to spread democracy and achieve social justice.”
“He also supported liberation movements worldwide, and had many theoretical contributions in several intellectual, political and cultural fields. He also has contributions in the field of identity, analysis of the Moroccan society composition, and such contributions have influenced the Moroccan socialist and democratic thought.”

Serfaty lived a life of activism, exile and persecution. In 1970, he contributed to the establishment of a left-wing organization called “Ila al-Amam” (Forward) which was a source of concern for the Moroccan authorities during the rule of King Hassan II. His position on the Western Sahara issue, which went against the official position of the Kingdom, was considered an indirect reason for his trial in 1977, where he was handed a life sentence on charges of conspiracy against the state.

In 1991, he was included in a royal pardon following the intervention of the wife of France’s former president Francois Mitterrand. He was stripped of his Moroccan citizenship and deported at the time by Moroccan Interior Minister Driss Basri. Serfaty was allowed to return from exile in France in 2000 and his Moroccan citizenship was restored.

“The late was a companion of mine between 1977 and 1991,” said Abdelhamid Amine, Vice President of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). “He was a big defender of human rights and workers’ rights.”

Meanwhile, Party of Progress and Socialism former Secretary-General Ismail Alaoui told Magharebia: “He was a top activist for the independence of the country, and therefore, was exiled at the era of Protectorate. He then returned home to proceed with his struggle for democracy and joined the Moroccan Communist Party. In the early 1970s, he helped in the foundation of Ila al-Amam following a dispute with the party.”

In his turn, Driss Ould Lqabla, editor-in-chief of al-Mashal weekly, said in one of his articles: “I spent years in the company of Abraham Serfaty, whether at Darb Moulay Ali Charif prison, the civil prison in Casablanca (Ghbaila) or Central Prison in Kenitra. I sat down with him, talked with him, and even lived with him between four walls behind a thick iron gate. In addition to his strong struggling spirit, sacrifices, self-denial, transcendence over blackmail, disgust for opportunism and extortion, the thing that attracted my attention in him is his original and natural skill of expression. He also had strong insistence on complementing that with education, learning, continuous research and exploration; something that enabled him to sincerely express his self, ideas and convictions.”

“I knew him as someone who can’t bear the images of deprivation, social and cultural backwardness, injustice, and corruption of laws, no matter how different their types, methods and ends are,” he added. “This has made the continuation of research and exploration a permanent habit for him.”

Serfaty’s funeral took place on Friday in the Jewish Cemetery of Casablanca. It was attended by a number of dignitaries, including King Mohammed VI’s advisor Andre Azoulay, former Prime Minister Abrerrahmane El Youssoufi, Minister of State Mohamed El Yazghi and Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra.

“Morocco has lost a great patriot and a committed militant of democracy and social justice,” El Yazghi said.

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