Mar 7, 2005

Truth & Reconciliation

Originally uploaded by macnamband.

He was from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee: Abdelhay Moudden, a big shouldered man and the academic director at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in Rabat. He gave a lecture at the university, followed by questions. The biggest question is how the truth — the whole truth about Hassan's II's treachery, what he knew and when he knew it, which may never be known, considering the chaotic and inaccessible state of the national archives — how the truth will affect people's notion of the monarchy? Will this open the door to more democracy or more fundamentalism? Or the military who, you'll remember, staged 3 coup d'etats.

But it was the very last anecdote that caught the ear. He explained that last week he and some of the commissioners had spoken at a school near where the commission meets. At the school he met three 13-year-old girls who asked him about his work: what was he doing? What was this commission looking into? Why? He had never thought of the problem posed by having to explain this kind of work to children. What a fool he had been and suddenly he had a revelation, which was that, of course, this would all have to be explained to people for whom politics is never mentioned. The girls had all seen the commission hearings on TV. What do you remember about it? he asked. Well, they said, they remembered a few individual stories: the one about the man who was arrested while riding on his bicycle and another about a woman weeping for her lost son. He asked them, what do you think we are doing? He knew they had some idea. Just tell me, he said, what comes to mind. They shook their heads. Anything at all, he said, any idea that comes to mind. They shook their heads. And that's when it occurred to him that even having no direct experience in the violations, which may still be going on, they knew instinctively, reflexively that that this was not a subject to know anything about. Politics, he said, is taboo and we are still living in a place and a time when this subject is associated with pain. An association, an NGO, is looking into this matter of how to talk to children; it's called Mountada al Moutana, in Rabat.

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