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Moroccan activist gets prison sentence for criticizing normalization with Israel

This photo shows Abdul Rahman Zankad, a member of Morocco's Al Adl Wal Ihsane association, who was sentenced for criticizing his country’s decision to normalize ties with the Israeli regime.

A Moroccan activist has been handed a five-year jail term for criticizing his country’s decision to normalize ties with the Israeli regime.

A court on Monday found Abdul Rahman Zankad, a member of Al Adl Wal Ihsane association, guilty of insulting a constitutional institution and incitement. He was also fined 50,000 Moroccan dirhams ($5,000).

Zankad was arrested last month after posting on Facebook about Israel’s war on Gaza and Rabat’s decision to establish diplomatic ties with the regime.

Al Adl Wal Ihsane association said Zankad’s sentence “only serves to solidify the certainty that we are in a state riddled by authoritarianism and tyranny.”

 “We condemn this unjust ruling in the strongest terms. It is a continuation of the unjust rulings targeting opponents from Al Adl Wal Ihsane, journalists, and leaders of the Rif Movement,” the statement added, referring to a 2016 protest movement whose leaders were later sentenced and jailed.

Morocco, along with the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, signed US-brokered normalization agreements with the Israeli regime in 2020, drawing condemnations from Palestinians who slammed the deals as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.”

Most of Arab people also oppose the normalization agreements. 

The association has also decried the prosecutions of other opponents of normalization, pointing to cases of people who were sentenced for criticizing the monarchy and organizing protests.

The civil liberty advocacy group organizing the legal defense of protesters slammed the charges as “baseless”, arguing that the proceedings violated Zankad’s right to a fair trial.

Morocco and several countries across the world have seen mass protests in solidarity with Palestinians who are subjected to brutal Israeli aggression. The demonstrations decry Israel and its allies, particularly the US.

Israel launched the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas waged the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli intensified violence against Palestinians.

Tel Aviv has also blocked water, food, and electricity to Gaza, plunging the coastal strip into a humanitarian crisis. Since the start of the offensive, the Israeli strikes have killed 33,545 Palestinians and injured nearly 76,094 others.

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