A mural of jailed Moroccan investigative journalist Omar Radi, painted by artist Mirra Markhaeva in Brussels. Photo by Mouad Belrhouat.

The cover image for MER issue 307/308 features a mural of jailed Moroccan investigative journalist, Omar Radi. The words “Free All Journalists” are emblazoned next to him.

Radi was first detained in Casablanca in December of 2019 for “insulting a judge”—a charge that was leveled against him based on a series of tweets in which he criticized the heavy sentencing of protestors. On July 29, 2020, following an investigation by Amnesty International, which revealed that the Moroccan government had used Israel’s Pegasus spyware to hack his phone, Radi was jailed for espionage charges and sexual assault. Notably, the state has used similar charges against several other journalists and regime critics, including Soulaimane Raissouni and Taoufik Bouachrine. In December of 2020, a trial for Radi was held lasting only 15 minutes, in which he was found guilty. Several international observers, including Human Rights Watch, have deemed the trial unfair for failing to grant Radi due process. The court, for example, ignored evidence and denied his legal team access to the case file. In March of 2022, in an appeal, he was sentenced to six years in prison, where he remains until today.

Radi’s case is one of many that speak to how authoritarian states are using new surveillance technologies and legal regimes to further carceral systems and silence their critics within and across borders. The mural, like the issue cover, is a plea to recognize the human stakes of these webs of power and to continue calling for the freedom of all political prisoners.

The project was organized in August of 2020 by a group of artists, including Mouad Belrhouat. Belrhouat is a Moroccan rapper who goes by the name l7a9ed and who has also been imprisoned by the Moroccan state. The mural itself was painted on the side of a building in the Brussels city center by Brussels-based visual artist Mirra Markhaeva. Markhaeva says of the work, “It was a very urgent and reactionary piece to show that the world reacts and transforms even visually when such injustice occurs.” The photograph of its construction was taken by Belrhouat, who shared the image with MERIP for the issue’s cover.


Read the first article in MER issue 307/308 “Frontlines—Journalism and Activism in an Age of Transnational Repression.”

How to cite this article:

"A Note on the Cover Image," Middle East Report 307/308 (Summer/Fall 2023).

For 50 years, MERIP has published critical analysis of Middle Eastern politics, history, and social justice not available in other publications. Our articles have debunked pernicious myths, exposed the human costs of war and conflict, and highlighted the suppression of basic human rights. After many years behind a paywall, our content is now open-access and free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your donation ensures that MERIP can continue to remain an invaluable resource for everyone.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This