Citizens are planning a sit-in outside of Rabat’s Court of First Instance for Monday at 1 p.m., denouncing Raissouni’s arrest and trial.
Rabat – Rabat’s Court of First Instance begins hearing the case of journalist Hajar Raissouni, on trial for illegal abortion and premarital sex, on Monday, September 9.
A group of citizens have said they will gather outside the court for a sit-in beginning at 1 p.m.
“We, citizens concerned by the current situation of rights and freedoms, and in particular the situation of women in Morocco, show our support for Hajar Raissouni and are dismayed by the affair, strongly denounce the reasons and conditions of her arrest … and call for the immediate release of Hajar Raissouni, her fiance, the doctors, and the nursing staff involved,” writes the group.
Police arrested Raissouni as she was leaving a doctor’s office on Saturday, August 31. They accused her of undergoing an abortion and arrested her fiance, a physician, a nurse, and a secretary from the practice.
The journalist, however, denies the charges. She says she sought treatment from the doctor for internal bleeding.
If convicted, Raissouni would face up to 2 years in prison.
Her lawyer, Saad Sehli, has said he will argue that Raissouni did not undergo an abortion, but that she was receiving treatment for a possible miscarriage. “We have a medical report that says there is no induced abortion. There may be a spontaneous abortion, and that is not criminal,” Saad Sehli asserted.
Miscarriages in the first trimester of pregnancy are very common, and women often seek medical assistance to pass the remains of the baby.
Raissouni writes for the Arabic newspaper Akhbar al-Yaoum. Her uncle, an Islamist ideologist, is also an editorialist for the paper. The journalist published a letter in the newspaper alleging that, while in police custody, she was interrogated about her uncle.
As possible political motives, Raissouni’s relatives also point to her recent articles about the Hirak activists who were convicted of participating in unauthorized protests and imprisoned.
The journalist was set to be married September 14. Premarital sex is illegal in Morocco. In 2018, police arrested 14,503 individuals for engaging in sex outside of marriage. Police also arrested 3,048 people for committing adultery. Police made far fewer arrests for illegal abortions, only 73.
However, associations estimate there are 600-800 secret abortions performed in Morocco every day.
Moroccans have widely discussed the case on social media. Some international organizations have also voiced their opinions, with Amnesty International calling for her release.