Morocco indicts imam for 'inciting murder'

By Mohamed Saadouni for Magharebia in Casablanca – 24/07/12
In an unexpected move, Morocco’s public prosecutor in Oujda on July 17th charged controversial preacher Abdullah Nahari with inciting murder. The salafist imam allegedly threatened journalist Mokhtar el-Ghzioui, who backed greater sexual freedoms.
In a YouTube video watched by more than a million, Nahari called al-Ahdath al-Maghribia editor a “cuckold” and called for “spilling blood” after the journalist said publicly he would accept his mother or sister having sexual relationships outside of wedlock.
“Our freedom is something essential, and we cannot demand political freedoms when we are afraid of our bodies. Society cannot be free politically if it is diseased sexually,” el-Ghzioui said in an interview with Al Mayadeen channel.
The legal move against Nahari followed lengthy investigations.
The judicial police interrogated Nahari, who denied that he expressly called for “spilling the blood” of el-Ghzioui. He admitted that he likened the journalist to a “cuckold who isn’t jealous for his honour”. Nahari also denied that he had anything to do with posting the video to YouTube and Facebook.
“The decision to prosecute Nahari is daring and comes in the framework of what we asked for during the investigation,” el-Ghzioui told Magharebia. “Our only demand is to allow the law to take its course. The decision consolidates the state of law and rights, and now the court only has the right to decide about the case.”
He added that the move to bring a legal action against Nahari was made to prevent future calls for murder.
“I cannot predict what’s going to happen in the stages of trial,” the journalist said. “I only hope that things will be put in their true light without any exaggeration, and that a conviction will be made if the court finds Nahari guilty.”
Meanwhile in Oujda, Nahari’s supporters have called for a massive rally against the decision to prosecute the controversial imam, sources in the eastern city told Magharebia.
Rabat lawyer Isaac Charia mounted a campaign against el-Ghzioui and described him as “a journalist who promotes immorality” and encourages mothers and daughters to “to practice prostitution and vice”.
“Unfortunately, we are now facing a serious problem in Morocco,” Charia told Magharebia. “Some people claim that they’re defending freedoms while they are actually violating the Moroccan law. El-Ghzioui’s statement is considered a serious violation of public morals, which is a crime punishable under the criminal law.”
The lawyer said that Morocco’s criminal law prohibits people from “promoting” prostitution “whether by gestures, sayings, writings or any other means”. The punishments range from one month to one year and a fine ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 dirhams, he said.
“The law must be strictly applied against the extremists, whether those who call for murder in the name of religion or those who claim to defend sexual freedoms in the name of modernity,” Charia said.
In his turn, Bin Abdul Salam, a rights activist from the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH), told Magharebia that the public prosecutor’s decision is logical.
“No one, regardless of their reference point, has the right to issue a fatwa for spilling the blood of the other because he has a different opinion,” he added. “We don’t allow the state to kill in the name of law through death sentences; how then can we allow individuals to issue fatwas of murder in the name of religion because of differences?”
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