Monthly Archives: August 2010

Why being an environmental activist can get you arrested..

(Article re-posted from A World of Green Muslims blog)

For most us, being green is a choice we take because we believe it is better for the environment but also that god has entrusted us to care for this planet. We take very little risk while doing our recycling or composting,  and reducing our waste isn’t likely to attract the attention of government officials. But in Morroco, activist Mohamed Attaoui was sentenced to two years in prison for exposing illegal logging of shrinking cedar forests and ‘cedar mafia’-style corruption among the ranks of the forest service and  government officials.

Weeks after he published his article on the illegal trafficking of cedar by community leaders in March 2010, Attaoui was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison. Although cedar wood is a protected species in Morocco and so those who were partaking in the illegal logging are in the wrong, Attaoui was arrested on charges of extortion for his whistleblowing.

In an article published by the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Brendan Borrell noted:

The truth of the matter is Attaoui’s case is not unique. Envirnomental activists in other countries have suffered a similar fate. In 2008, Uzbek journalist Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov, who has been documenting the destruction of the Aral Sea, was sentenced to 10 years on apparently bogus drug trafficking charges.

This July, the naked, handcuffed body of Ardiansyah Matra, the reporter who uncovered illegal logging by the Indonesian military, washed up in the Gudang Arand river.

Although Attaoui had tried to fight his sentence and even gone on hunger strike, it has been reported that 20 Septemeber is when he will be called to serve his sentence. With the various eco-wonders of the Muslim world currently under threat such as the Iraqi marshlands and Indonensian rainforests, those brave enough to speak up against environmental degreadation need to be supported not imprisoned. As the Prophet (pbuh) told us:  “The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his guardian over it.”

Reporters without borders are encouraging people to write and ask for Attaoui’s complete and unconditional release.  Appeals can be sent to:

Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi,
Département du Premier Ministre
Palais Royal
Rabat, Morocco
Fax: 212 5377 69995
Salutation: Your Excellency

For more information click here.

Image via Agharass on Flickr.