Morocco: Multiple Arrests Against Activists


Written by Hisham Almiraat, a Global Voices blogger

There has been a sudden surge in arrests among pro-democracy activists and online campaigners in Morocco in recent days. Three have occurred in the past week alone. Little has been reported in the press and it took bloggers to report on the arrests for the traditional media in Morocco to pick up on the stories.

The anti-corruption campaigner

The first arrest occurred on Monday when authorities in the northern city of Fnidaq apprehended blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Mohamed Douas. Mohamed is the founder of a community news website called Fnidaq Online.

The arrest, according to his friends and supporters, might be related to a Facebook group, Wikileaks Fnidaq, Mohamed founded and where he published documents allegedly exposing corruption within the local administration. Mohamed was accused of drug trafficking but a group of bloggers and online activists say the accusation is baseless.

Hamid Salim writing on Young Immigrants says the judicial process is biased and politically motivated. He writes [ar]:

Charges were fabricated and the likely reason behind Mohamed’s arrest, at this particular time, was his campaign against corruption and the fact he revealed the involvement of a number of regional officials in cases of corruption and drug trafficking.

The rapper

Another activist, rapper Moad Belghouat, alias Haked (Arabic for The Vindictive or The Outraged) was arrested on Friday on charges of assaulting a pro-regime demonstrator. Moad is a an active member of the Moroccan pro-democracy youth movement known as February 20.

Words of support for Moad abound on Twitter and Facebook. Blogger Ghassan Wail writes:

The 20th february movement is a protest movement in the spirit of the “Arab spring” and has been fighting for more democracy, liberty, dignity and social justice over the last seven months. Haked is one of the artists highly involved in this movement. His lyrics are famous for being outspoken and critical about the Moroccan regime. He criticizes corruption, clientelism, the oligarchy of a few families in Morocco and the monarchy’s excessive wealth.
Free Moad Haked.

Moad’s support group counts over a thousand members on Facebook.

On Sunday activists marched in solidarity with Moad Haked wearing T-shirts bearing the phrase “Free Haked or arrest us all.”

Moad supporters released the following video [ar] showing people holding a sign calling for the release of the rapper:

The poet

On Saturday, poet and political satirist Younes Belmalha, a.k.a Inkicharia, was reportedly detained. He is known for his humorous and irreverent videos mostly critical of the regime. Shortly after the news of the arrest, netizens reported that Younes’ YouTube channel was being emptied of its video content. It is not clear at this point what Younes has been arrested for nor whether the deletion of the videos was the result of a third party intervention.

Younes was reportedly released on Sunday. No details have emerged as to why he was apprehended.

Has anything really changed?

These arrests come only two months after the country adopted a supposedly democratic constitution, described by its advocates as one that would guarantee greater freedom of expression. Blogger Don Aminos wonders [fr]:

The question I ask myself today is: at a time when all the tyrants are falling all around us, what results do the authorities think they will get out of these arrests? Fear has switched sides. To try to intimidate protesters seems to me to be suicidal as it only reinforces the credibility of the [pro-democracy] movement and crystallizes the hatred against the regime. But is the king informed of these arrests that go against his own interests? If so, what is his response or position? He, who has accustomed us with his soporific rhetoric on the role of the youth in society and the efforts made in its favor.

This post was originally published by Global Voices.

Photo from tgeasland via flickr creative commons


Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado6 years ago

Sad news!

Ralph F.
Ralph F6 years ago

The governments of North Africa and the Middle East need to take note of the tide of history. It will eventually wear them down and freer societies will be formed, one way or another.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S6 years ago

And all this while Morocco has been recently caught, along with the Great Beast Saudi Arabia, funneling millions into Spain secretly to radicalize the Muslim population, make them hate democracy and Spanish liberal values, increase hate speech in mosques and support the Salafists who are openly waging war & trying to take over Spain & force it under Islamic brutal rule again.

We have adopted Spain as our home & have Moroccan friends who tell of repression on all levels there. There is little freedom of anything there.

Margaret D.
Margaret D6 years ago

Sad news. I have friends from Morocco and they have always been proud of how progressive and democratic it is compared to other Middle East countries.

Patricia Alkhazraji
Patricia A6 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly with Harshiita. The more the government tries to stop the people from being heard, the harder they will rebel. Better to listen, make change and keep your dignity as a ruler. Look at the Shah of Iran, Saddam, Mubarak and Ghaddafi. Despots end up desperate.

Ruby W.
Ruby W6 years ago

Moroccan people are so beautiful. I hope they can improve their country without bloodshed.

Kathleen Montgomery

The USA is tge best place to live. So sad for those persicuted people.

Mike Barnes
Michael Barnes6 years ago

It would probably be more appropriate to report on this type of abuse a little closer to home, like Madison Wisconsin or Washington D.C.? Land of the free, home of the brave, cradle of Democracy, blah,blah, blah, or lamestream sanitizing of real news and abuse?

Harshiita Sharma
Harshita Sharma6 years ago

Thanks for posting this article!
This is totally unjustified,but then whenever people come out on the streets to protest against the wrong doings of the government,these arrests,detainment happen. Governments do this to silence people,to demotivate them,to scare them. But they forget that these incidents motivate people more and more.
I hope justice be given to moroccan people!

Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago