Moroccan justice confirmed on appeal, Tuesday, September 13, a heavy prison sentence for an Internet user accused of “undermining the Muslim religion” after posting on Facebook writings deemed offensive, we learned from the defense. “The Khouribga Court of Appeal sentenced Fatima Karim to two years of imprisonment, confirming the first instance sentence”his lawyer, Habib Aadi, told AFP. “It’s a very severe verdict”he complained, adding that the appeal in cassation is “still under study”.
In detention since mid-July, Fatima Karim, 39, was prosecuted for commenting satirically in Arabic on her Facebook page, verses from the Koran and hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, considered sacred in Muslim tradition.
The Moroccan internet user was sentenced on August 15 to two years in prison for “electronic attack on religion” by the court of first instance in Oued Zem, 150 km from Casablanca. The appeal process opened on September 6, before being immediately adjourned for the defendant to appear in court.
Fatima Karim affirmed her right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Moroccan Constitution. She also publicly apologized “Anyone who has felt offended” through his publications, making sure he never intended to undermine Islam, the state religion in Morocco.
The proceeding was initiated by the prosecution. Article 267-5 of the Criminal Code, under which Fatima Karim was sentenced, punishes from six months to two years of imprisonment “Those who violate the Muslim religion”. The penalty is increased to five years’ imprisonment if the offense is committed in public, “Also electronically”. Human rights defenders denounce this text of law which hinders freedom of expression and whose wording “Does not specifically specify the facts that could constitute an infringement”.
In June 2021 an Italian-Moroccan was sentenced to three and a half years of imprisonment, also for “aggression against the Muslim religion”, after posting satirical phrases on Facebook imitating verses from the Koran. The young woman was released shortly after, her sentence was reduced on appeal to two months’ suspended prison sentence following a protest campaign by human rights defenders.
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