Could the Pardon of a Serial Pedophile Lead to the Second Arab Spring in Morocco?

A Spaniard serving a 30-year sentence for raping and filming 11 children was pardoned by the Moroccan king Wednesday, and could be the catalyst for a second wave of protests in Morocco.

The Moroccan public's response to the pardon has been swift and severe. A Facebook page entitled "Royal Rape: Moroccan People against the Royal Pardon of Rapists of Moroccan Children" was created following the announcement and already has collected over 7,200 likes and hundreds of posts and comments. The page continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Leaders from the February 20 Movement, which swept Morocco during the Arab Spring in 2011, have called for protests in front of parliament on Friday. More than 15,000 people have responded to the group's Facebook event, and are planning to attend the sit-in Friday.

"If it's true and confirmed, what happened is so shocking and shows that the ones who let the pedophile go have no respect to Moroccans and to their honor. As a Moroccan I ashamed and sad to hear that a criminal has been set free and allowed to leave the country. I condemn his release," Amine Moutaouassit, a Moroccan from Settat, told Moroccan World News.

Hamid Krayr, the lawyer of the victims' families and a member of Morocco's Human Rights Association, said Daniel Fino Galvan was convicted 18 months ago for the rape and filming of 11 children aged 4-15.

Galvan is just one of 48 Spanish prisoners pardoned by Moroccan King Mohamed VI at the request of Spanish King Juan Carlos. It is customary for the king to pardon prisoners on the annual holiday celebrating the royal family, Throne Day, July 30.

As outrage against the decision mounts, the monarchy is trying to defend the king's actions.

"I don't think King Mohammed VI was aware of the crimes committed by the Spanish Daniel," Khalid Jamai, political analyst and former member of the executive committee of the Independence Party, told news site Febrayer.com.

This excuse is not placating Moroccans. Following the Egyptian protests in the wake of Morsi's ousting, Morocco could be the next country in what is becoming the second Arab Spring. 

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Heather Hartlaub

Heather is a recent grad from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Middle Eastern History and Arabic. Raised around the world as a military brat, she loves foreign policy, kebseh, and crossword puzzles.

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