Listening today to 100TPC radio, an interview of El Habib Louai, with Terri Carron and Michael Rothenberg, where he speaks of the Islamist government in Morocco, and the difficulties of protest, and even organising poetry readings such as 100 Thousand Poets for Change, brings home to me the freedoms we take for granted in Ireland, for all its ills.
Sure, the Americans spy on us, the Guards intervene on occasion, and by an large the government ignores us and carries on regardless, but still we do not have the real fears of folk like Habib who protest in the face of real oppression in Morocco.
Habib is an ethnic Berber Moroccan, a teacher by profession, and speaks how the Arab Spring brought little change to his country, which though not with as much a reputation of government control compared to Iran or Saudi Arabia, it still has quite a grip on its population with a lawÂ akin to Sharia, but aimed more at keeping the ruling class and the monarchy in power than any spiritual purism.
It is akin to the reformation in Ireland,where to speak against the rule of Queen Anne, or King William before her, would cost a Catholic their home, for the offense of being Catholic, whose deposed King James was in France.
Irish informed on Irish, Catholic on Catholic,Â and a rule of fear was behind the tensions that still explode in Ireland today, thankfully only in the North during the Marching Season – which is from now to September – where both sides are convinced that they are right.
Of interest, the only Orange Order parade in the south, at Rossnowlagh, passes off without incident.
Cultural control to enforce power predates sectarian problems in Ireland – the Statutes of Kilkenny tried to kill Irish culture, but its most effective taboo to last to today is how Irish wear English haircuts and look down on folk with long hair, and poetry from the common people is frowned on.
It really turned toxic when religion came into it, the Old English in Ireland holding onto Catholicism, becoming “more Irish than the Irish themselves”, even speaking Gaelic. But they kept their short hair!
The new English (and Scots!!!!) were Protestant, some more extreme than others, and the real paradox was that the moderates Church of England / Ireland oppressed the more extreme Puritans (who evolved to be Dissenters and Prebyterians), allying up Cromwellian with Jacobite in the 1798 rebellion, where they fought Crown Forces, made up uniquely of Jacobites who opposed republican ideals and the equality of man, the official Catholic Church AND the newly formed Orange Order!
Those in power then, including one of my ancestor families the Drakes, lost their power and became rebels when they backed the wrong side in the civil war (in their case the War of the Roses) which may happen in the future in nations such as Morocco.
In a subsequent war against France, Captain Peter Drake, being Irish in French uniform, was set to die, but was saved by General Drake on the English side, who asked for pardon as he saw the Wavern Gules on the French uniform buttons! Saved by the buttonhole, indeed,as my poem here retells!
So those who enforce the power should remember that little lesson from Ireland, those they oppress today, they may need tomorrow.