Among the million ways to hush up an inconvenient journalist, authorities in Morocco have chosen a particularly nasty one.
Hajar Raissouni, a journalist for the independent publication, Akhbar al-Yaoum, was arrested on 31 August together with her boyfriend Amin Rifaat, a doctor and two of his assistants, outside a medical center in the capital city, Rabat.
Hajar has been charged with having an abortion and premarital sex.
In Morocco abortion is permitted if the wife’s health is at risk and only if the husband consents to it. Clearly, in the case of Hajar and Amin this does not apply because according to the country’s penal code, they committed a crime within a crime.
Obviously, Moroccan authorities deny that the unjust persecution against Hajar has anything to do with her work as a journalist. But many things suggest otherwise.
Hajar is Ahmed Raissouni’s niece, a renowned Islamist theologian and former head of the Movement of Unity and Reform (MUR), one of the most popular religious movements in Morocco.
The journalist is known for her articles criticizing the government. In May, she published a long interview with Nasser’s father, Ahmed Zefzafi, leader of the protest movement Hirak El-Rif, who is currently serving 20 years in prison.
In November 2018, the former Editor in Chief of Akhbar al-Yaoum, Taoufik Bouachrine, was sentenced to 12 years for political opposition.
On 4 September from prison, Hajar stated that she had been interrogated about her articles, her colleagues, and her uncle’s activities. She was not asked about the extramarital relationship or the abortion; obviously mere excuses for her arrest.
Hajar and Amin could be facing one year in prison for premarital sex and she could be sentenced from six to two years for the abortion.
It could go even worse for the doctor and his assistants. They could be facing up to 10 years for “procured abortion”.
The hearing has been set for 9 September.