Islam

Moroccan blogger jailed for posts ‘offensive to Islam’

A Moroccan blogger has been sentenced to two years in prison for “offending the Muslim religion” after posts on Facebook deemed offensive to Islam, her brother told AFP on Tuesday.

Bouzza Karim said his 39-year-old sister Fatema was questioned by police on July 15 and had been in custody ever since.

She was put on trial for Arabic comments deemed satirical she posted on Facebook, referring to Muslim holy book the Koran.

Her brother said at the trial she pleaded her right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed under Morocco’s constitution, and she intended to appeal.

She also publicly apologised to “anyone who felt offended” by her posts, saying she never intended to undermine Islam, the state religion.

The jail term was pronounced on Monday by a court in Oued Zem, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Casablanca.

“This verdict is very severe and sets us back years,” her brother told AFP.

Morocco’s penal code punishes anyone who offends the Muslim religion with a prison term of between six months and two years.

The penalty can be increased to five years in jail if the offence is committed publicly — “including by electronic means”.

Human rights activists say the law hinders freedom of expression and “does not specify the facts of what constitutes an offence”.

In June last year, an Italian-Moroccan woman was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in Morocco for offending the Muslim religion after posts on Facebook imitating verses from the Koran.

After a campaign by rights activists she was released when her sentence was reduced on appeal to a two-month suspended jail term.

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