Sunday, 7 December 2014

"In a country, which does not respect its citizens..."


Khalid Gueddar, A Government Without Dignity, November 26, 2014.


DIGNITY. The very notion from which the Syrian revolutionaries have not swayed a second as their objective. While the notion of freedom may be vast and vague, dignity states what freedom entails. 


Khalid Gueddar, "In a country, which does not respect its citizens...", 
November 25, 2014.

A dignified life is one of doing as opposed to being done to. A life of taking responsibility, of deciding for oneself. To show respect and being shown respect.

A government without dignity is thus known by its creating garbage of its people and so the Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane is busy shoving away the dead; at once practicing the policy of the gutter, while forgetting his own claim to Islam how the deceased are entitled to his respect.

The latter are drawn with respect by Khalid Gueddar on the other hand. Their faces remain hidden and yet each body is clearly outlined; they do not dissolve into one another in spite of being thrown about. To all sides of them Benkirane is in constant movement. He has taken the action upon him, being the one who acts on behalf of everybody else; the embodiment of living and dying in indignity.

Still, Benkirane is but the clown. He is a performer in the public sphere serving to direct the interest away from those actually in power, as Khalid Gueddar has explained and he continued: The arrival of the Islamists onto the scene, of which Benikirane is one, has thus changed nothing. They are not the ones in power, they are not free themselves.
Khalid Gueddar, detail from
Le calife qui ne veut plus être roi

And so, a Benkirane in movement is nothing much compared to Mohamed VI as the kamikaze protagonist in the comics on the caliph who no longer wants to be king by Khalid Gueddar. Each comics page ends in his having to leave a party or water-skiing to do paperwork and screaming his head off on everybody and everything that he has had it, he will no longer be king. The comics setup dissolving any thought of a rationale behind the actions taken from the royal house creates an all the stronger impact by drawing a taboo in the first place. The constitutiton states that the king is "sacred and inviolable" and as a consequence he is off limit cartooningwise. Only, the serial published by French Bakchich was read in, but could not be controlled in Marocco: 




Khalid Gueddar, Prince Moulay Ismaïl, September 25, 2009.
The interview above by Bakchich was made in the spring 2009. Half a year later Khalid Gueddar drew a cousin of the king, Prince Moulay Ismaïl on his wedding day for the daily Akhbar al-Youm. The counteraction was prompt. Khalid Gueddar and his editor was arrested and subjected to a marathon interrogation, as he was to call it. The building that housed the daily was sealed off.

A month later Khalid Gueddar was sentenced to four years in prison; One year for drawing the Moroccan flag and three for drawing the prince. The sentence was conditional. The closing of Akhbar al-Youm was upheld.

Khalid Gueddar recalled afterwards having been interrogated by 11 persons upon his arrest, "including agents of the (intelligence agency, LCL) DST, who had no right to be there with the agents of the Judicial Police". 80% of their questions had centered on Bakchichunderlining that their interest in his drawings were not of a recent date. This particular drawing was their chance to strike back and to make a case of it. It was stipulated that the waving prince had been depicted doing a Nazi greeting while the flag was anti-Semitic in that it appeared to have a six-pointed rather than the correct five-pointed star.

Upon his arrest Khalid Gueddar was made to redraw the star in the attempt to erode his own explanation how since the full star cannot be seen, a six-pointed situation has not taken place. It was insisted that he should redo certain details such as the shape of the hood of the hijab and his fez that would be hiding the remaining section of the star. 

Actually, the star of the Moroccan flag was six-pointed until 1915. Furthermore the issue of color was not taken into consideration. "The officials who confused the Moroccan green star with the blue symbol of Judaism has poor eyesight" as Khalid Gueddar expressed to El Pais at the time. 

Most of all it is a strange situation, as he stated in another interview that the offense against the prince is considered to be more serious than a offense to the flag of 30 millions Moroccans. He has since continued to apply the flag turned against the people as a symbol of their oppressors. 


Khalid Gueddar: Report: More than 150,000 Moroccans Live Like Slaves...
November 20, 2014.


Since January 2011 Morocco has eased in changes and much has been bettered. But there is a long way to go and old authoritarian habits die late.

This is a story of dancing to and fro. Of the cartoonist speaking up in clear lines and the authorities striking back; they on the other hand mumbling, waiting to find the right moment when an explanation can be found that will not embarrass themselves, something that may actually sound plausible if we do not look to carefully. When the light is directed at them, though, certain shadows will emerge.

A story known all too well, and so I cannot help including a drawing with a very special piece of new iconography. This one has a predecessor in the crucified man, but the Abu Ghraib-photos of abuse were instantly grasped across continents as a common visual denominator of the violation of human rights. As fellow humans we were all debased in Abu Ghraib and this is us every time in the shadow of shame:

Khalid Gueddar, Amnesty International Reveals the Torture in Morocco!!
 June 27, 2014.



There is a specific reason for taking up the mumbling and the shadows. A conditioned sentence is certainly a way of telling a cartoonist to keep a low profile and in case he should forget there is furthermore the possibility of an application to appeal from the prosecution.  Khalid Gueddar has now been summoned to an appeal court for the FIFTH time for the very same drawing.


Khalid Gueddar, The Gate to Debating is Open to Benkiki...!!
June 11, 2014.



It seems the focus this time will be on the flag. We shall know more on January 22, 2015. 


The final word belongs to Khalid Gueddar: "I have never regretted a caricature. Before making this cartoon, I was very aware of what I was doing. I do not regret any caricature, even that of Moulay Ismaïl. I take it upon me. Before you draw, you have to be convinced by the idea and the subject. A caricature is my opinion on a subject, I cannot have qualms about it".


The cartoons shown are courtesy of Khalid Gueddar and must not be reproduced without his permission. 


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