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Abraham Serfaty

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Name  Abraham Serfaty
Role  Militant for democracy
Education  Mines ParisTech

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Died  November 18, 2010, Marrakesh, Morocco

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Abraham Serfaty (Arabic: أبراهام سرفاتي‎‎‎; 1926 – 18 November 2010) was an internationally prominent Moroccan dissident, militant, and political activist, who was imprisoned for years by King Hassan II of Morocco, for his political actions in favor of democracy and developments regime, during the Years of Lead. He paid a high price for such actions: fifteen months living underground, seventeen years of imprisonment and eight years of exile. Upon his return to Morocco in September 1999, he was given the position of Advisor to king Mohammed VI


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Life and politics

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Abraham Serfaty was born in Casablanca, in 1926, of a middle-class Jewish family originally from Tangier. He graduated in 1949 of École des Mines de Paris one of the most prominent French engineering Grandes écoles. His path as a political activist started very early: in February 1944, he joined the Moroccan Youth Communists, and, upon his arrival in France in 1945, the French Communist Party. When he returned to Morocco in 1949, he joined the Moroccan Communist Party. His anti-colonialist fight had him arrested and jailed by the French authorities, and in 1950 he was assigned a forced residence in France for six years.

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On the morrow of Morocco’s independence, he encumbered several, more technical than political, posts and was part of the Ministry of Economy from 1957 to 1960. During that time, he has been one of the many promoters of the new mining policy of the newly independent Morocco. From 1960 to 1968, he was the director of the Research-Development of the Cherifian Office of Phosphates, but revoked of his duties because of his solidarity with miners at one strike. From 1968 to 1972, he taught at the Engineers School of Mohammedia, and at the same time, collaborated at the "Souffles/Anfas" artistic journal, headed by Abdellatif Laabi.

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Abraham Serfaty was a Moroccan Jew, but also an anti-Zionist Jew who did not recognize the State of Israel and was outraged by what he saw as the mistreatment of the Palestinians.

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In 1970, Serfaty left the Communist Party, which he considered to be too doctrinarian and became deeply involved in the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist left-wing organization called "Ila al-Amam" (En Avant in French, Forward in English). In January 1972, he was arrested for the first time and savagely tortured, but released after heavy popular pressure. As he was again targeted for his continuing fight, Serfaty went underground in March 1972, with one of his friends Abdellatif Zeroual, who was also wanted by the authorities. It was then that he met for the first time Christine Daure, a French teacher who then helped both men to hide.

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After several months of hiding, Abraham Serfaty and Abdellatif Zeroual were arrested again in 1974. After their arrest, Abdellatif Zeroual died, a victim of torture. In October 1974, at "Derb Moulay Chérif", center of "interrogation" = (torture) à Casablanca, Abraham Serfaty was one of the five culprits sentenced to life in prison. He was officially charged with "plotting against the State's security", but the heavy sentence seemed to have been more a result for his attitude against the annexing of the Western Sahara, even if this motif did not appear in the official indictment, than his political activism. He then served seventeen years at the Kenitra prison, where, thanks to Danielle Mitterrand's help, he was able to marry his biggest supporter, Christine Daure.

Exile and return

International pressure was enough in Serfaty's favor that he was finally released from prison in September 1991, but immediately banished from Morocco and deprived of his Moroccan nationality on grounds that his father was Brazilian. He found a haven in France, with his wife, Christine Daure-Serfaty. From 1992 to 1995, Serfaty taught at the University of Paris-VIII, in the department of political sciences, on the theme of "identities and democracy in the Arab world".

Eight years after his exile and two months after the death of King Hassan II, he was finally allowed by the new king to return to Morocco in September 1999, and had his Moroccan passport restored to him. He then settled at Mohammedia with his wife Christine in a house made available to them and even received a monthly stipend. In the same year, he was appointed Advisor to the National Moroccan Office of Research and Oil Exploitation (Onarep). In September 2000, he was appointed as an Advisor to Mohammed VI. This nomination did not stop him for asking, in December 2000, the then Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Youssoufi to resign after the attacks on the independent newspapers and magazines and restrictions of their rights and freedom of speech. Serfaty died in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2010.

Abraham Serfaty was the co-author, with his wife Christine, of the book The Other's Memory (La Mémoire de l'Autre), published in 1993.

Awards and honors

  • 1991 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award
  • References

    Abraham Serfaty Wikipedia

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