Embassy Row: Content in Morocco

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The safest place in the Arab world after the latest eruption of anti-American violence is Morocco, according to U.S. Ambassador Sam Kaplan.

“We’re very comfortable here,” the former Minneapolis lawyer told Minnesota Public Radio, noting that Morocco has seen protests but no violence since the uprisings broke out nearly two weeks ago on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He and his wife, Sylvia, have lived in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, since 2009.

“Nobody had any concerns at all” in Morocco, he said, referring to the days after terrorists killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Libya and protests erupted in Egypt and spread across the Muslim world.

Maybe it has something to do with torture.

The United Nations is preparing a report on the systematic use of torture in Morocco against suspected terrorists and anti-government protesters.

“It appears that there’s an increase in occurrences of excessive force when the police or other authorities respond to incidents that involve assembly,” U.N. envoy Juan Mendez told reporters in Rabat over the weekend.

He said civil rights activists complained to him of a “climate of oppression” and claimed to be targets of police surveillance.

The Moroccon Association for Human Rights says as many as 80 political prisoners still are being held after they were arrested during pro-democracy protests in February. King Mohammed VI quelled the demonstrations by endorsing constitutional reforms.

Government spokesman Mustapha al-Khalfi told reporters that the U.N. investigation shows that Morocco “respects its international engagement and deals frankly with questions and problems of human rights.”

Mr. Kaplan believes Moroccans are a contented people.

“This is not an unhappy population. This is not a population who had a dictator at its head but rather a king that is respected by all,” Mr. Kaplan said.

He added that the biggest protest recently followed a soccer game lost by the team from Casablanca.


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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