For the official Moroccan press, close to the security services, Maâti Monjib is the number 1 public enemy of the Kingdom. Harassed, denigrated, wiretapped, his family threatened, prosecuted for “Attack on state security” and for “Non-denunciation of foreign funding” in a trial opened in 2015 and postponed twenty times since then, the 60-year-old historian, journalist and human rights defender, Maâti Monjib, was arrested in Rabat on December 29 and remanded in custody. Detained in quarantine without a visit, he should be brought before the investigating judge on January 20.
His arrest sparked international outrage. “Monjib was literally kidnapped by eight plainclothes policemen who arrived in two cars while he was having lunch with a friend in a restaurant in Rabat,” denounces, amazed, the Moroccan Association for the Defense of Human Rights (Asdhom).
For an authoritarian regime, it has a lot to displease
Maâti Monjib paid dearly for his freedom as a committed intellectual who had for a time forced him into exile in France under Hassan II. But the Morocco of Mohammed VI has returned to the security demons. And for five years, the historian and journalist has been one of its prime targets.
It is true that for an authoritarian regime, it has a lot to displease: author of articles and critical works on the monarchy, despotism and corruption, founder of the Ibn Rochd Center for Studies and Research, president of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism and Freedom Now (Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press and Expression in Morocco). The Pen America association had placed him in 2018 on its list of endangered authors on the planet.
Historians have been banned from teaching since 2015. “The activity of the Ibn Rochd research center must have been put on hold at the start of the legal proceedings, but has remained under fiscal control since then, explains Khadija Ryadi, former president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH). Maâti Monjib was one of the initiators, with his work, of the rapprochement between Islamists and secular leftists, enough to bristle the authorities who, as in any authoritarian regime, love nothing more than conflicts and divisions, the monarchy wants to be an institution of wisdom which arbitrates and prevents conflicts. “
“No way I am silent”
Khadija Ryadi knew that harassment and smear campaigns against her would end with imprisonment. “More than 400 defamatory articles have been published against him in the press dependent on the services since 2015”, she adds.
“No way I am silent”, Maâti Monjib insisted in an interview with the Orient XXI site last September. According to him, his remarks on the role of the General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance in the repression of opponents and the management of political and media affairs in Morocco have motivated new prosecutions for “Money laundering” since October 2020, which earned him his imprisonment, like other journalists imprisoned after spurious accusations of morals or money.
In November, a group of several large NGOs, including Amnesty, FIDH, and Reporters Without Borders, called on the Moroccan authorities to put an end to the harassment and “to drop all the unfounded accusations” brought against Maâti Monjib.