Rabat - Anger and condemnation have erupted nationwide from journalists, celebrities, and human rights activists on social media as the Casablanca Court of Appeal pronounced heavy sentences Tuesday night for the Hirak Rif activists.
Rabat – Anger and condemnation have erupted nationwide from journalists, celebrities, and human rights activists on social media as the Casablanca Court of Appeal pronounced heavy sentences Tuesday night for the Hirak Rif activists.
The court gave sentences ranging from 20 years to 1 year in prison for the activists, some of whom were arrested nearly a year ago.
After condemning FIFA for “unjust refereeing,” Moroccan social media users and activists shifted their focus to criticize the justice system in Morocco, criticizing the heavy sentences towards Hirak Rif activists.
In the view of activists, the sentences for the young protesters were unfair, who fought for social equality and denounced the lack of human rights in the Al Hoceima region.
The digital society has called the sentences a “dramatic error.”
A journalist and former editor in chief of Moroccan news outlet Telquel, Driss Ksikes, strongly condemned the verdict, emphasizing that “the convictions of the Rifi activists brought the Moroccan autocracy back to a time of trivialized and globalized repression and injustice.”
Four leaders of the protest movement, including Nasser Zefzafi, received 20 years in prison while others received sentences between 1 and 15 years in addition to fines of MAD 2,000.
A Moroccan analyst and journalist at Moroccan television channel 2M, Abdellah Tourabi, tweeted that “the heavy sentences against Hirak Rif are a historical mistake that we are going to pay for as a nation and citizens.”
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— A Tourabi (@Atourabi) June 26, 2018
Moroccan activist, professor, and head of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) Nabila Mounib shared her opinion in a video posted on her official Facebook page. The Moroccan politician condemned “the complete absence of an independent judiciary” and the lack of accountability in the country.
She also denounced the security’s approach and repression of the detained activists. The politician then called for their freedom.
Former Minister of Urban Planning and Housing Nabil Benabdellah also took to his Facebook page to criticize the heavy sentences against Hirak Rif detainees.
Benabdellah, who is also the head of the Party of Progress and Socialism Party (PPS), wrote on his Facebook today:“We strongly hope that all possible legal and judicial review of this file will be realized in order to inject the necessary democracy into the national political life.”
Sports journalist Said El ABadi wrote “in the space of 24 hours, the pride of the Moroccan people for their national team and their support has given way to disappointment for justice …”
En l’espace de 24h, la fierté du peuple marocain pour son équipe nationale et ses supporters a laissé place au dépit pour sa justice… #Hirak
— Said El Abadi (@Selabadi) June 26, 2018
Moroccan political activist and MP Omar Balafrej expressed anger in three (Arabic) words on his Twitter, saying “just arrest us all.”
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— omarbalafrej (@omarbalafrej) June 27, 2018
Citizens also took to their social media accounts to decry the sentences against the activists.
— sana (@riffianprincess) June 27, 2018
“Morocco, a place where a football injustice gets more reactions and outrage than actual injustice and lack of human rights. #hirak,” said another.
“Last night, the verdict has been announced: 20 to 1 year of prison for young people who invested their time and energy, risked their lives and faced the state’s machinery of oppression. For a better Morocco. For “dignity, freedom and social justice”.
We are mourning!”
Last night, the verdict has been announced: 20 to 1 year of prison for young people who invested their time and energy, risked their lives and faced the state’s machinery of oppression. For a better Morocco. For “dignity, freedom and social justice”.
We are mourning!
— Uness Eagle (@younessfatati) June 27, 2018
Online activists created a Facebook page, calling on a protest against the sentences in front of Parliament in Rabat today, Wednesday, at 6:00 p.m.
More than 1,200 Facebook users marked themselves as “going” to the protest, while 10,000 marked themselves as “interested.” Citizens are also expected to organize a sit-in in Casablanca.
The social protests began after the death of the local fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri, who was crushed dramatically to death in a garbage truck in October 2016 while attempting to retrieve his goods that authorities had confiscated.
The death of Fikri angered Moroccan citizens, especially people in the Al Hoceima province who condemned the situation and the social disparities in the region.
Throughout the protests, the law enforcement arrested more than 400 Hirak activists for their participation in “unauthorized demonstrations,” on charges of “undermining the internal security of the state.”
The May 2017 arrest of the leader of the social protest, Zefzafi, seriously escalated the situation, with citizens in the Al Hoceima province organizing further protests to condemn the security crackdown.
After nearly 80 trials and frequent postponements, the court gave heavy sentences to Zefzafi and other detained activists.