Dignity Manifesto




February 20th, 2011

        As I walk in the early morning in the deserted streets of Fes, I sniff the smell of fear; and hear the piercing sound of silence dominating the place. Everybody is indoors; shops are closed and there is not the slightest manifestation of life.

        Conscience is dead, but no one is attending the funeral; no one except that prevailing aura of fear, silence and the deserted streets.

         My aunt speaks to me about her fears, her worries, her misfortune, and how badly life is treating her; however, she finishes it all by saying Hamdollah (Thanks God) followed by a deep sigh.

       My aunt also talks about her deceased daughter, should I say, the martyr? She talks about how life stood insignificant for her after she lost her daughter, how nothing tastes really sweet, and how her meandering thoughts take one exclusive direction; that leading to the memories of her daughter. The little sweet child that was killed by unskilled doctors who are still killing people and are never ever held accountable for the crimes they are committing. However, my aunt does not dare say anything about all of this.

       My aunt’s neighbours also do not dare to renounce their life of misery or speak of the injustices they are suffering from; their voices are so feeble to be heard anyways!

       As I walk through the streets of the city of ghosts, as my father named it that day , I see fear walking on its shoes, and as I look at it in surprise, it opens its mouth widely and laughs at me but soundlessly, then it says: so what?

I stare at it, hardly believing how fear and silence get the power to talk in such a sarcastic manner. However, I realize that people have long surrendered to fear and silence, that they fully accepted their plight and took it for their heaven. Thus, fear and silence have become so eloquent.

A single woman in her fifties lives in a shuck in the outskirts hardly getting what to eat.

You walk into an exam room in hope of getting that job you always wanted or to attend that school you always dreamed of. The examiner asks you: What does your father do? (Hello! Are you hiring me or hiring my father?)

Your father is a taxi driver; he gets sick so he does not go to work. You are lost!

A woman in the old Medina wakes up as early as a bird. She has breakfast: a cup of tea, a couple of olives, and stale bread.

She takes the bus to La ville nouvelle; she stands at lmaw9ef* and waits along with other women. A car stops in the nearby, the driver calls for the woman next to her, so she has to wait for longer. Then, at last someone else comes and picks her up:

– You, come here!

She goes, does the laundry and the dishes, cleans the carpets and the house altogether. Then, she gets 50 DH.

– But, sir/ madam, please, I have been working all day long. I deserve more!

– Thank God I gave you that.  You all are so ungrateful. You all are the same!Others would give you 30 DH.

She realizes that this is true, that, may be, they will call her next time, and recalls the days no one calls her and she returns home empty-handed.

She takes the bus back to a dim dirty messy room, a sleeping husband and hungry children.

– Moooom! I am starving. I want to eat!

– Mom! I need to buy a pen, this book and that and that….

– Mom! The teacher told us to buy this and this

– My skirt is torn. I need new shoes, etc …

Meanwhile, the landlord comes for the rent, and she begs him to come back in a week!

What if one of her children gets sick? What if she gets sick? What if she wakes up one day to find out that she has cancer?

And most of all:

What is a loaf of bread if you get it through humiliation?

What is life if it is dignity-less?

I continue walking in the deserted  streets, as fear and silence enthusastically perform their dance  in celebration of the death of conscience and dignity.



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