In the summer of 2007 Mamdouh took his family for a three-week vacation to Morocco. Many things had changed there since he’d emigrated twenty years before. A new king, Mohammed VI, had been crowned in 1999, and he had ended the “period of fire and steel,” established a more liberal political atmosphere, and passed some progressive laws. He had pardoned thousands of political prisoners, adopted a new law expanding women’s rights, and announced that protecting human rights and ending poverty were priorities.

Many of the conditions that had pushed Mamdouh out still existed, however. Human rights groups continued to document government abuses in the form of arrests, beatings, and prison sentences. Mohammed VI continued ...

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