Abraham Serfaty, the leftist Moroccan militant and unsubdued opponent to the regime of late king Hassan II, has died today at the age of 84 in the city of Marrakech. His lifelong struggle for democracy and social justice in his country made him an icon for a Moroccan Left he helped create back in the early days of independence. He was a Moroccan Jew, a relentless anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian advocate. He paid a heavy price for his positions, especially his support for the separatist “cause” in Western Sahara, spending almost a third of his life (17 years) behind bars, where he was subjected to the most brutal forms of torture. An international campaign of solidarity forced his release in 1991 but he was subsequently banned from his country and deprived from the Moroccan nationality. He went to exile in France where he taught at a major French university. In 1999, king Mohammed VI who had just succeeded his father on the throne, ordered Serfaty’s return to the country and restitution of nationality. In a post Cold War world, Serfaty witnessed the fragmentation of the Moroccan Left he helped bring to life. After a few failed attempts to assemble the progressive forces around a united front, he withdrew from the political life. He never shied away however from voicing his criticism in the face of mounting restrictions on the press and freedom of speech in general.
What remains of the legacy of Abraham Serfaty is still unclear. The future will probably tell. The Moroccan Left is weaker than it has ever been as it struggles to find a charismatic and principled leader that could inspire its revival.
Following, is a three-part interview with Abraham Serfaty [in French], broadcast by the Moroccan TV in 2009 (and not 2002 as I previously posted), in which he comments, among other things, on his views on the rise of political Islam, the conflict over Western Sahara, national identity, Palestine, the future of Morocco:
Rest in peace.