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Morocco sentences Islamist to five years for criticizing ties with Israel

The court found Abdul Rahman Zankad, a member of an Islamist organization, guilty of insulting a constitutional institution and incitement.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with King Mohammed VI of Morocco at the Moroccan Ambassador to the United States' residence in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20, 2013. Credit: U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with King Mohammed VI of Morocco at the Moroccan Ambassador to the United States' residence in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20, 2013. Credit: U.S. State Department.

A Moroccan who criticized the country’s decision to normalize relations with Israel was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 50,000 Moroccan dirhams ($5,000) on Monday.

The court found Abdul Rahman Zankad guilty of insulting a constitutional institution and incitement, AP reported. Zankad was arrested in March after posting on Facebook about the Gaza war and Morocco’s 2020 decision to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

“Zankad is a member of Morocco’s Al Adl Wal Ihsane, a banned but tolerated Islamist association that has been a driving force behind many of the country’s protests since the war began,” AP said.

Tens of thousands of Moroccan protesters across the political spectrum have protested in the streets against Israel and in favor of the terror group Hamas, the news outlet reported. They have also criticized the United States and demanded that the government “overturn normalization.”

Morocco generally tolerates free expression, but it’s illegal to criticize the monarchy, and under the country’s constitution, foreign affairs are the prerogative of King Mohammed VI.

Last summer, another Moroccan man, Said Boukioud, 48, was sentenced to five years in prison for criticizing the king on Facebook over the country’s normalization of ties with Israel. He was jailed on Aug. 1, for posts denouncing the Abraham Accords “in a way that could be interpreted as criticism of the king,” the defendant’s lawyer said.

In 2020, Morocco became the fourth Arab country to recognize the Jewish state in the framework of the Abraham Accords after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

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