Morrocan Sentenced to 3.5 years in Jail for Insulting Islam on Facebook

Sale, Morocco - a 23-year old Moroccan-Italian woman was charged with insulting Islam on a Facebook post she made in 2019. The woman, who remains unnamed by her father’s request, was arrested in the Rabat-Sale Airport in Rabat, Morocco, in May 2021 after returning from France.

The woman is not fluent and not familiar with Arabic, according to her father. In April 2019, she posted on Facebook Arabic phrases that look like extracts from the Quran. She did this “without knowing the content,” the woman’s father explained. 

Social media netizens were quick to defend the woman, highlighting her rights to criticize ideas or “intellectual criticism.” Others were also critical of what they perceive as unacceptable, rebuking her for insulting Islam.

Sources familiar with the matter stated that it was a religious association in Marrakesh that submitted a complaint that started the litigation proceedings, causing the woman’s arrest in 2021. 

Morocco’s penal code, Article 267-5, prescribes a penalty with a sentence of six months or up to two years in prison for anyone “which offends the Islamic religion or the monarchy, or incites territorial integrity.” The duration of the sentence could be increased if the offense is committed in a public place or via electronic platforms, including online media.

On Monday, June 28, 2021, the woman was sentenced to three years and six months in prison with a fine of almost $6,000 or more than 53,000 Moroccan Dirham. The official announcement was made by Morocco’s Ministry of Justice.

The woman’s father said, “I visited her today; she is completely broken; they have ruined her future,” saying that the length of her sentence was too harsh.

The woman’s father and her family are planning to appeal the decision.

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