Loss of dignity: Man forced to kiss official's feet in Morocco

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The story of a young Moroccan mechanic who was forced to kiss the feet of a court official in exchange for forgiveness has led to growing public discontent across the country.

The man, Hisham Himmi, often referred to in the Moroccan press as Hisham the mechanic, was reportedly detained for refusing to immediately paint the car of the deputy prosecutor in the central town of Midelt.

Hisham said the court official insulted him and spat at him several times in his garage before he was referred to the police center. He was verbally abused again before he was forced to kiss the deputy prosecutor’s left and right feet, several Moroccan media, including the popular Hespress website reported.

A protest, attended by the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and several other rights groups, demanded the expulsion of the deputy prosecutor and called on the government to ensure human dignity and social justice for citizens.

The incident occurred on Feb. 16 and immediately began to make headlines in local and national media.

On Wednesday, the anniversary of the pro-democracy February 20 movement, hundreds of people gathered at the court house to protest what they saw as the humiliation, by a government official, of an ordinary citizen who struggles to make ends meet.

Hundreds of people also gathered in front of the parliament in the capital Rabat and in the largest city, Casablanca, to mark the second anniversary of the youth protest February 20 movement which organized mass nationwide rallies in 2011 to push for grassroots reforms.

The movement gradually lost its zeal following the introduction of a new constitution and following a legislative election in which the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party emerged victorious.

But observers argue that the real blow to the protest movement was the existence of divisions among its components. This prompted the withdrawal of the country’s largest opposition group, the Justice and Charity, from the movement’s ranks.

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