Morocco: Blogger Arrested, Sentenced Immediately

Update: Moroccan Blogger Mohammed Erraji has been acquitted by appeals court and is now free:

Mohamed Erraji is Free

Thursday September 18th. The court of appeals in Agadir has overturned the decision by the court of first instance and has decided to abandon all charges against blogger Mohamed Erraji.

On behalf of his family and friends, we thank all those who stood by them during these difficult times. Without your support this positive outcome might not have been possible. Thank you very much, thank you for everything!


This morning, it was reported by the electronic news site Hespress [ar] that blogger Mohammed Raji was arrested in his home in Agadir.  An article that Raji had posted on Hespress [ar] is said to be the source of the conflict, though neither that fact nor Raji's arrest have been confirmed outside of the blogosphere.

Morocco's often-critized press law prohibits criticizing of the monarchy; In Raji's article, which has been translated here by Amira al Hussaini, he claims that the King's charity toward his people encourages them to remain helpless rather than work hard.  His concluding paragraph reads:

وعندما يرى ولي العهد الصغير الذي سيتولى الحكم في يوم من الأيام كيف أن والده يوزع الهبات والاكراميات والكريمات على الناس بمجرد سماع كلمة إطراء أو مدح ، فلا شك أنه سيتصرف بنفس “المنطق” عندما يحكم ، لذلك فما علينا سوى أن نؤجل أحلامنا بمغرب المساواة وتكافؤ الفرص لغاية حكم الملك محمد السابع الذي سيأتي بعد الحسن الثالث اللي هو ولي العهد حاليا!

When the young Crown Prince, who will become the Ruler one day, witnesses how his father distributes honours, gratuities and gifts to people upon hearing compliments and praise, there is no doubt that he will act based on the same logic, when he rules. This is why we should delay our dreams of a Morocco of equality and equal opportunities until the reign of Mohammad the Seventh, which will follow after Hassan the Third, who is the Crown Prince at present.

A Moroccan About the World Around Him explains the context of the article, saying:

Mohamed’s article, written in Arabic and titled “The King Indulges His Subjects’ dependency,” dealt with the concept of what Moroccans colloquially call “GRIMA”, from the French word “agrément” meaning “an administrative authorization.” Giving ”administrative authorizations” has been a long standing royal tradition in Morocco. Needless to say, such authorizations allow the beneficiary to bypass all set administrative procedures; they discredit all laws and regulations designed to regulate such procedures. But the concept is so ingrained in the Moroccan psyche that you often here Moroccans from all walks of life pray: “May Allah give us a “GRIMA” from Sidna.”

Other bloggers, including A Moroccan in Washington, D.C., zalamite, and Larbi [fr] have covered the story as well.

Hespress has reported that Raji has already been given an expedited hearing and judgement and was sentenced to 2 years in jail as well as fined MAD 5,000 (USD $625). Larbi explains:

Dans un jugement expéditif digne des pays les plus totalitaires au monde, le Tribunal d’Agadir a condamné ce lundi le bloggeur marocain Mohamed Erraji à deux ans de prison ferme et 5000 Dhs d’amendes pour « manquement au respect dû au roi ».

In an expedited trial worthy of the most totalitarian countries in the world, the Agadir tribunal has sentenced Moroccan blogger Mohammed Erraji to 2 years in prison and a 5000dhs fine for “failure of respect due to the King”

A petition for Mohammed Raji's freedom has already been posted here and a Facebook group has been created.

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