The journalist has been receiving support since her arrest on August 31 from international and local activists and public figures.
Rabat – More than 300 people rallied today in front of the Moroccan parliament in protest against the verdict of Rabat’s Court of First Instance in the case of journalist Hajar Raissouni.
Both Raissouni, 28, and her fiance received a sentence of one year in prison on September 30 for illegal abortion and sex outside marriage.
The police arrested the journalist and her fiance on August 31 for “illegal abortion and premarital sexual relations.”
The journalist writes for the Arabic-language daily Akhbar Al Youm.
The court’s decision divided public opinion and stirred a backlash, with activists and human rights NGOs calling on the judiciary system to repeal laws against abortion.
Activists,- women and men – of all ages, held banners protesting the verdict.
The banners were similar to theslogans chanted during the protest, said “Freedom for Hajar,” and “freedom for Rifaa al-Amine,” Raissouni’s fiance of a Sudanese nationality.
Other protesters held banners calling for the release of Raissouni’s doctor,who received a two year prison sentence for conducting her alleged abortion. Both Raissouni and the doctor denied the abortion charges against them.
Other slogans that protesters chanted during the protest suggest that the journalist’s arrest is a political move due to her writing, an accusation that the public prosecutor at the first instance court denied.
On September 5, the prosecutor said that Raissouni was arrested due to illegal abortion and not for journalism.
The journalist is known for her interviews with parents of Hirak Rif detained activists, such as the prominent leader of the social movement, Nasser Zefafi.
Activists at the protest also condemn the defamation of her case on social media.
At the protest, feminists and activists shouted their prepared slogans with cracked voices.
While solidarity motivated some of the activists to go out to express support for Raissouni, others seized the protest as an opportunity to decry the lack of individualism in Morocco.
“We came here to express our anger against the verdict Hajar Raissouni received,”deputy president of Federal Association for Women Rights Samira Muheya told Morocco World News.
The activist added that the verdict and the crimes attributed to Raissouni should be retracted.
Muheya called on the government to amend and repeal the laws in place with new ones that keep pace with our era.
Article 453 in Morocco’s penal code stipulates that abortion is not punishable if it is practiced to preserve the mother’s physical health in case of a medical threat. In this case, abortion can be openly practiced with the spouse’s authorization. It is both punishable for the doctor and the patient.
Sex outside marriage is also a crime in Morocco, according to Article 16 of the Family Code. The article clarifies that a legal contract is the only document accepted to prove a marriage.
Abortion “should not be illegal,” a protester said.
“What if a woman was raped? Abortion save souls and lives of children. It is better than throwing children in the street,” he added.
Days after the arrest of Raissouni, feminists and activists signed a manifesto to criticize Morocco’s laws criminalzing sexual abo relations outside marriage and abortion.
Raissouni and all other defendants prosecuted in the case will appeal the verdict.