A Moroccan court sentenced a student at the Higher Institute for Arts and Culture to three months in jail and a fine of 500 Moroccan Dirhams ($52 US Dollars) charged with insulting and defamation of former Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane. The student is accused of sending a message to the former prime minister in which he called the latter a 'dog', for not responding to his scholarship application.
It all began when Benkirane submitted a complaint to the Public Prosecutor's office in Rabat, stating that a university student had called him before the Eid celebration, and spoke of his difficult financial circumstances and inability to spend Eid with his family. The former prime minister and secretary-general of the Islamist Justice and Development party told the student to visit his home in central Rabat, where he gave the student 200 Dirhams ($20 Dollars) through one of his aides, according to a local newspaper.
When a friend of that student learned of Benkirane’s support, he decided to call the PM and request the return of a judicial file which he had previously submitted for consideration. However, Benkirane hung up the phone on the student, which angered the latter and caused him to send the message in which he called Benkirane a "dog", prompting the latter to submit a legal complaint against the student.
Following Benkirane's complaint, Moroccan authorities arrested three students: the sender of the message, his friend who gave him Benkirane's number, and the owner of the phone that the message was sent from. The three were subsequently placed in el-Arjat prison, before the releasing two of them and convicting the sender of the message.
Benkirane called his opponents dogs, but the Islamist PM could not bear being called a "dog" himself, the loyal animal is regarded as especially filthy in Islam.
A three months’ jail sentence for a young man requesting Morocco’s ex PM Benkirane’s support in a scholarship application.
Poverty Is The Reason
In statements made to the Moroccan Hespress website, one of the released parties affirmed that Sa'id (his friend who sent the message) had been attempting to "get in contact with Benkirane repeatedly, and his rude response came after Benkirane hung the phone up on him."
He further noted that the "relationship between Sa'id and Benkirane is an old one, for he had previously submitted to him documents that prove that he was a child at an orphanage in the capital, and asked him to help him attain a scholarship in order to continue studying abroad."
Sa'id's friend also pointed out that his own relationship with Benkirane ended after he received the aforementioned financial support from the Islamist leader, adding that his decision to give his friend Sa'id the number implicated him in the case. The university student affirmed that he had visited Benkirane's home on the second day of Eid to receive the sum of money. He stressed that his friend Sai'd was "not immune from mistakes, and only asked for an academic scholarship, because he was an orphan with no family to count on."
The online news-site also cited statements by Sa'id's adopted mother, who said that "she was no longer able to bear her son's costs," noting her astonishment that he was unable to receive a scholarship throughout his period of study.
The adoptive mother went on to accuse Benkirane of "denigrating the young man and not answering his repeated phone calls," adding that "Sai'd is a Moroccan youth, the son of the people and the King, and only wants his right to a scholarship."
She concluded by calling on the authorities to release Sai'd and grant him the scholarship which she stated was "his right."
Benkirane did this repeatedly with his opponents"
Many Moroccans would express their sympathy with Sa'id and their anger at the Islamist leader's actions on social media platforms, while others would regret the student's description of Benkirane as a "dog" – which they believed was a symbol of loyalty – stating that the term "crocodile" would have been more appropriate.
The Moroccan rights' activist and lawyer Nofal Bouamri wrote on his Facebook page: "It is his right [Benkirane] to submit a complaint and it is the duty of the Public Prosecution to implement the law, but I have a question to Benkirane: did you not describe Omar Benjelloun as a rabid dog?"
Omar Benjelloun was a Moroccan lawyer, trade-union activist and leftist politician who was assassinated by an extremist Islamist faction in the country in 1975. During the trial of those accused of his murder, a quote allegedly attributed to Benkirane declared: "Is it for this rabid dog that the best of our youth get tried?"
Bouamri went on to add: "Did you not label a minister in the current government as vile and others before them" noting that the student "described him as a dog while he described his opponents as crocodiles, both animal descriptions."
Bouamri concluded: "He needs to know that there is no difference between him and those students; he submitted a complaint against them while others overlooked his [Benkirane's] insults towards them."