RABAT (Reuters) - A Moroccan activist has been jailed for three years for slandering King Mohammed in an Internet video, the official news agency reported on Tuesday, in a case that has highlighted brewing discontent in one of Morocco’s poorest cities.
The Youtube video shows 24-year-old Abdassamad Haidour berating the king as he addressed a gaggle of people in the street, seemingly aware that he was being filmed.
Human rights activists said the video was recorded last month during riots over high power prices and unemployment.
“(The man) appears on videos detrimental to the sacred values ??of the kingdom,” the official MAP news agency said, adding that the judge also fined him 10,000 dirhams.
Morocco’s most prominent human right organisation, AMDH, said police used excessive force in taming the riots in Taza. Seventeen other people were jailed for up to 10 months for their part in the unrest, the second such flare-up there this year.
Haidour was arrested on Friday and rushed through the courts despite no lawyers in Taza willing to defend him, a sign of the deference with which many Moroccans still hold the monarch. Haidour refused the offer of a court-appointed lawyer.
The king, family have ruled the country since the 17th century, relinquished some powers after pro-democracy protests last year but still controls security and foreign policy.