A supposed sign of benevolence, but also a reminder of the ridiculous civil rights restrictions that remain in Morocco:
Eight Moroccan rights activists jailed for chanting anti-monarchy slogans during Labour Day demonstrations last year were set free on Friday after receiving a royal pardon, the government said.
Police arrested 17 people after marches in the northern town of Ksar el-Kebir and the coastal resort of Agadir on May 1 and charged them with “harming Morocco’s sacred values”. Five of them were sentenced to four years in prison, one was jailed for three years and two others received two-year prison terms. The other nine were given suspended sentences…
Abdelhamid Amine, vice president of Morocco’s leading human rights group AMDH, said those jailed had denied chanting slogans hostile to King Mohammed. “This pardon is good news but it’s also the correction of a judicial error,” he said. “These people should never have been jailed simply for exercising their right to free speech.”
…The monarchy still wields ultimate power and the government is quick to punish those who appear to show hostility to the king in public. Amine said one young man had been jailed after unwittingly ripping up a magazine that contained a picture of the king. A woman seeking a divorce was imprisoned last year for saying her husband sat around at home all day doing nothing “like a king”, said Amine.
Ahmed Nacer, a wheelchair-bound 95-year-old, was jailed in September over comments he made during an argument with a bus driver which officials said “harmed Morocco’s sacred values”. He died in prison in February.
Hey, don’t cut that old man any slack!