A Question Of Courage: Journalist Faces Imprisonment For Exposing Corruption
Oct 2012 29

A Question Of Courage: Journalist Faces Imprisonment For Exposing Corruption

Posted In Activism,Blog,Politics

by Dell Cameron

As I write this, I am filled with a great deal of emotion. I’m very concerned for a good friend of mine and I fear for his safety. His name is Youssef Jajili. He is a director at a nationally distributed magazine in Morocco called Alaanmag. He has authored several articles in his country about corrupt fundamentalists who are attempting to control the social perspective of his country.

When these men of power sought to propose changes that would outlaw the distribution of alcohol in Morocco, Youssef published a story about the thousands of dollars these men had spent on the delivery of expensive wines to their hotel rooms. While this may seem trivial to Americans, in a country without democratically elected leaders, publicizing this kind of information can be often dangerous for journalists. After making enemies with the state of Morocco, one of Youssef’s superiors was jailed for an entire year. Information connecting him to Al-Qaeda was fabricated and all pleas to the US State Department for assistance fell on deaf ears.

After publishing articles that outlined the corruption of powerful businessmen in Morocco, Youssef made a trip to the United States, which is where I first met him and became his friend. During our time together, we learned that La Brigade des Affaires Economiques had paid a visit to his magazine. This department officially handles issues of financial importance, but when I compared it to the IRS, Youssef likened it more to a visit in America by the FBI. During his visit his phone was also disabled. I later learned cell phone companies in Morocco are controlled by the government.

What makes Youssef’s story significant is that he has refused all efforts by his friends to force him into asylum. Many people, myself included, have begged him to remain here and/or seek the assistance from the State Department. I’m taken aback by his response. He is adamantly against hiding from what is seemingly a corrupt investigation against him. He is obviously facing imprisonment upon his return. Youssef tells me he refuses to be a refugee; that he refuses to hide himself in any way.

Youssef moves fearlessly toward accusers, who undoubtedly have an invulnerable grip on the justice system in his country. He does so with a sense of honor and duty to his chosen profession, which is to report the truth at any and all costs. His selfless dedication to unearthing the corruption has had an irrevocable effect on my psyche.

I’m left to wonder, am I even worthy of writing about injustices in my own country if ultimately I’d be unwilling to confront the kind of threat to my personal freedom that Youssef faces so deliberately. I define my friend’s actions as the best kind of courageousness because they do not derive from a sense of pride, but from a sense of responsibility.

I will follow Youssef’s journey closely and if the worst happens, continue to report on his condition. In the meantime, I urge all others to support him and pray for his safety. You can follow Youssef Jajili on Twitter at @YoussefJajili and under the worst circumstances, support the cause to free him by using the hashtag #SaveYoussef.

***

Dell Cameron is writer, activist and entrepreneur from Dallas, TX. He is a contributing writer for SuicideGirls and campaign manager for David Seaman for Congress. Currently, Dell is the Account Director for Alomedia.net, a web development company that specializes in helping artists, musicians and small businesses develop an online presence.

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