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Dissolution of NGO Racines, an unacceptable violation of cultural rights in Morocco

 

The Roberto Cimetta Fund, is outraged to learn of the dissolution of the NGO Racines, announced by the civil court of the first instance of Casablanca on 26thDecember 2018. This sudden attack is unjust and unjustifiable, serving the Moroccan Government’s desire to clamp down on associations that would dare to be too free in their expression. 

 

The Governor of Casablanca-Anfa, a senior official of the Ministry of the Interior, filed a complaint against Racines for the hosting of a YouTube show 1 Dîner 2 Cons, a satirical political commentary. The show is one of the bastions of free speech, addressing the often-taboo topics of politics, religion and sex.  During the August 5 episode, viewed more than half a million times, some guests criticized the Moroccan King’s speeches and policies regarding police repression of protests. On December 26, 2018, the civil court of the first instance of Casablanca announced the dissolution of Racines on the grounds that the group had “expressed political views which were far removed from the purposes for which the association was created.” In parallel, the show I diner 2 cons continues to work and produce its forthcoming episode. Racines has appealed the court’s decision. The sentence is currently non-binding, and Racines is continuing its work advocating for freedom of expression and cultural diversity.

 

Established in 2010, Racines is a non-profit, non-political and non-denominational, cultural organisation based in Casablanca, working throughout Morocco to support the setting up of cultural action and policies which respond to citizens’ needs. Racines’ work is exemplary, based on territorial diagnosis, mapping, research, advocacy, and resulting in concrete outcomes in terms of cultural entrepreneurship, training, freedom of expression and the integration of culture as a key component of social and economic stability. Their recent publication “Culture is the solution” brings clear arguments to the fore.

 

Freedom of artistic expression is fundamental to a free and open society. Uninhibited creative expression catalyzes social and political engagement, stimulates the exchange of ideas and opinions, and encourages intercultural dialogue, a key element to the resolution of conflicts of any kind. Freedom of expression is essential to individuals and communities, challenging us to confront difficult realities together. 

Restricting this freedom and the free flow of ideas strikes at the heart of the core values of an open society.

 

Launched in 1999 as an international civil society initiative, the Roberto Cimetta Fund (RCF) expresses the determination of cultural and arts professionals in finding solutions to improve cooperation with their colleagues from the Arab world and the Middle East, strengthening exchange in a sustainable way via a multilateral mobility programme. 

 

RCF considers that the voices of artists and cultural operators like Racines and coming from every part of the world - writers, visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, performers - are more vital than ever today, at a time when we must listen to others in the search for global understanding, when we need, more than anything else, to imagine together the creative solutions for the crises of our time. 

 

Echoing the words of many other international cultural and human rights organisations, the Roberto Cimetta Fund - its Board members, experts, staff and beneficiaires - urge the Government of Morocco to take into consideration these serious concerns and release the charges against Racines.

 

Sign the petition to support Racines and say no to the dissolution.

 



Roberto Cimetta Fund

c/o ONDA
13 bis rue Henri Monnier
75009 Paris - France
T +33 145 26 33 74

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