Moroccans protest trial of blogger over FB post 'offending authorities'
Several Moroccan activists protested Wednesday the "unfair trial" against a Moroccan blogger and activist Saida Al-Alami over an anti-police Facebook post.
In Casablanca, several key Moroccan activists gathered in front of the city's court of appeal chanting against "censorship of the freedom of speech" in the kingdom and called for El-Alami's immediate release.
On 29 April, the Court of First Instance sentenced El-Alami to two years in prison and a fine of 5,000 dirhams (amounting to about $US500) for "insulting public officials".
El-Alami's long-awaited appeal trial was postponed from Wednesday to 12 September.
Saida El-Alami, a Moroccan human rights defender and blogger, was arrested on 23 March. She is facing charges over social media posts where she spoke of the harassment she has faced from police and the continued repression of journalists and activists.
The activist also used her Facebook page to address social and political issues in Morocco.
Amnesty International says banning Moroccans from "insulting" or "disrespecting" state officials or public figures, the military, or other public institutions violates their right to freedom of expression.
Last month, El-Alami launched a hunger strike to protest her "unfair trial". She ended the strike on Tuesday for health reasons, according to her family.
In April, Amnesty International accused Rabat of using bogus charges to detain activists to stamp out criticism of authorities.
"The Moroccan authorities are harassing and intimidating activists through unfounded criminal investigations and bogus charges in a shameless bid to silence critical voices and clamp down on peaceful activism," said Amna Guellali, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, in the organisation's report.
On 25 April, Rabie Al Ablaq, a Hirak Rif activist, was sentenced to four years in jail and a fine of 20,000 MAD ($US2,000) on charges of offending Morocco's king.
Up to September 2021, about 120 Moroccan citizens were arrested because of their online activity, according to The Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH).
"The violations known to many basic rights and freedoms in our country are neither circumstantial nor accidental, as much as they are the result of a systematic political choice of the state that does not seek neutrality or retreat," said Aziz Ghali, head of the AMDH, in a press conference in June.