Morocco is one of those “moderate” Islamic states that portrays itself as pro-Western. But that doesn’t mean it is pro-human rights. Better than Iran or Saudi Arabia, certainly, but Morocco still isn’t the most pleasant place for religious or political dissidents.
Freedom House condemns the recent arrests and sentencing of Moroccan blogger Hazzam El Bachir and internet café owner Abdullah Boukfou and calls for their immediate release without harm. The events in Morocco reflect a troubling trend by governments in the Middle East and North Africa Region to use traditional means of repression to clamp down on bloggers and human rights activists.
El Bachir was sentenced on December 15 after he posted a previously-published article about a harsh government crack-down of a student protest in Taghjijt. El Bachir received a four-month sentence for “spreading false information about human rights that undermined the kingdom’s image.” Internet café owner Boukfou receiveda 12-month sentence on a charge of “possession of publications inciting racial hatred.” Three student protesters also received six month sentences the same day.
Some day, let us hope, liberty and democracy will spread across the Islamic and Arab worlds.