Said Boukioud, a 48-year-old Moroccan man, has been sentenced to five years in jail for his critical Facebook posts denouncing the country’s normalization of ties with Israel, according to his lawyer, El Hassan Essouni, who reported on Wednesday.
Boukioud was convicted under article 267-5 of the penal code, which carries a jail term of six months to two years for undermining the monarchy. However, the court increased the sentence to five years due to the public nature of the offense, being committed through electronic means on social media.
The lawyer strongly disagreed with the court’s verdict, deeming it “harsh and incomprehensible.” He clarified that Boukioud’s posts were intended to express rejection of the normalization with Israel and not to offend the king.
According to The Guardian, the critical Facebook posts date back to the end of 2020 when Boukioud was residing and working in Qatar. Upon learning about the prosecution in Morocco, he promptly deleted the posts and closed his account. According to the country’s constitution, foreign affairs fall under the prerogative of King Mohammed VI. Morocco and Israel established normalized relations in December 2020 as part of the US-backed Abraham Accords, fostering cooperation in security, trade, and tourism between the two nations.
However, the normalization has been met with opposition from some Moroccans, particularly since the rise to power in December of a far-right coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. Many Moroccans also hold strong pro-Palestinian sentiments.
Critics argue that laws like Article 267-5 hinder freedom of expression, as they do not clearly specify what constitutes an attack on the monarchy. Human rights activists advocate for clear definitions to safeguard civil liberties.
In a speech commemorating the anniversary of his accession to the throne in 1999, King Mohammed VI reaffirmed “Morocco’s unwavering stance in support of the just Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” as reported byThe Guardian.