Friday, March 07, 2008

Facebook trial

It seems that Fouad Mourtada was brought to trial because he broke the rules of Facebook, which must surely have been used as evidence in his trial. Facebook’s terms of use clearly states that for registration one shouldn’t “impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity”. As an educated engineer, he should have taken care to read the terms of use carefully although the site is international and has no means for suing its users in case they break those rules. It seems, it is leaving this to the discretion of the judicial authorities and the parties concerned.

On the second level, he seems to have gone too far by choosing to impersonate a Royal Prince. In Morocco, there are still red lines concerning how openly members of the royal family should be talked about in public, let alone be used for impersonation.

Even in the free West, celebrities sue the media when portraying them in a damaging way, especially when there is a lack of proof about their reports. The latest was the case of Nichole Kidman who sued a photographer for chasing her to take photographs of her. In UK, popular papers are frequently at court for their “defamatory” publications. In Spain ,a Spanish newspaper was tried for making a sexually explicit cartoon of Spanish crown prince and his wife. The examples can’t be exhausted. The common point about this is that there was no imprisonment, just fines.

All these facts can be used as hard proof to indict Fouad. His case got worldwide publicity. In Morocco, it has been the talk of local and national media. There were supports for him and criticism of the “harsh” sentence. Maybe he was used as an example for those daring to cross the red lines that are explicitly stated in the Moroccan Constitution, which talks about the sacredness of the King and by this all his family members: family members shouldn’t be used lightly. In relation to this, many people were tried in Morocco for faking connections with the royal family members as a means to deceive those seeking jobs and intercession in courts and administrations. Recently a gang of this sort was dismantled in which workers in the royal palaces were involved.

For Fouad, his case can be seen by some as stifling free speech, by others as an ignorance of Moroccan law which still prohibits dealing with the royals lightly. Maybe he can get pardon as now his lawyers have appealed his three-year sentence. In the coming days, the end or the continuity of this “saga” will be known.

1 comment:

Eileen said...

My only comment is that being Moroccan, and given his age, he should have known better than to use the name of a Royal Prince, of all people.

Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas i (in the Middle East)