Uproar: Is The Arrest of Moroccan Journalist on Abortion Charges Politically-Motivated?

Published September 8th, 2019 - 10:04 GMT
Hajar Raissouni with the editor-in-chief of Akhbar Alyoum (mupresse.com)
Hajar Raissouni with the editor-in-chief of Akhbar Alyoum (mupresse.com)

The story of the Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni circulated the internet since Thursday after she was arrested on claimed charges of abortion and having sex outside marriage. However it is believed her arrest was politically-motivated due to her criticism of the authorities.

Raissouni, who works as a journalist for the independent newspaper, Akhbar Alyoum, and has been known for her activism and work in support of Hirak Rif (the Rif Movement), the popular mass movement that has been facing oppression by the government since 2016, was reportedly arrested on 31 August along with her fiance when they were leaving a doctor’s office. The police forces have also arrested the gynecologist, an obstetrician, and his secretary, as well as a medical assistant, who were all in the office.

While Hajar Raissouni’s lawyers stated she denied the charges against her, Raissouni confirmed being tortured and submitted to medical tests without her consent and under police pressure who coerced her to confess the charges she had not committed. They confirmed her intentions to file a complaint against the police before the Moroccan judiciary.

The story has prompted public controversy from two sides: one demanding freedom of choice and the decriminalization of sex outside marriage and abortion while the other criticizing the authority's politically-motivated attack on Raissouni using her work and activism in support of Hirak Rif against her.

In the meantime, Raissouni’s lawyers confirmed the authorities have threatened her uncle Suleiman Raissouni, a human rights activist and journalist for Akhbar Alyoum, who is known for his criticism of the authorities which would favor the narrative of Raissouni’s lawyers.

In response, the Public Prosecution has denied that her arrest has any link with the journalism profession, but is related to act considered by the criminal law as crimes, specifically “the practice of abortion”, which is punishable by law with a sentence from six months to five years imprisonment.

Translation: “All support with the Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni. All I know of the case is that Hajar was critical of the monarchy regarding the stadium disaster lately. So, they [the authorities] fabricated the story of abortion, which is not true according to her medical report.”

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