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Oct 20 2009

Moroccan rights activists deserve our support

‘I’m Betty- Ibtissame LACHGAR, rights activist in Morocco. You have maybe heard about our Movement for Defence of Individual Liberties (MALI) and the buzz in Ramadan? I really want to meet u.’

Maryam Namazie responds: Hi Betty, it would be wonderful to meet you. I’ll be sure to highlight the brilliant work you are doing there. It would be great if you could send a message to the November 21 rally protestors that we could read out on the day. I look forward to working closely with you and supporting you in any way possible. Best wishes, Maryam

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In case you haven’t yet heard, Betty-Ibtissame and Zineb El Rhazoui are the co-founders of MALI. They have just been barred from leaving Morocco to attend a conference in Paris and were told by border police that they are on a ‘wanted’ list. Their crime? Organising a public daytime fast break at the city of Mohammedia during Ramadan (Sunday, September 13). Breaking the rules of fasting is forbidden for Muslims in Morocco and can be punishable by a sentence of one to six months in prison and fines of almost 100 euros, according to Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code. To protest against ‘this interference in private life,’ MALI organised a fast-breaking protest. According to Zineb: ‘Our aim was to show that we are Moroccans, but that we do not fast, and that we have a right to exist.’ They were besieged by the police. The Official Moroccan Council of Ulema (theologians) denounced the protesters and described them as ‘agitators.’ Some of the group members were arrested and subjected to death threats via e-mails.

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