A Moroccan YouTuber was handed a four-year prison sentence yesterday for "insulting the king" in a video, according to his lawyer.
The YouTuber Mohamed Sekkaki, known as Moul Kaskita, was sentenced by a court in the western city of Settat for referring to Moroccans as "donkeys" and criticising King Mohammed VI, in a video posted on YouTube in November, resulting in a raid on his home and arrest late last month. The king is considered "inviolable" under the Moroccan constitution and criticism is a criminal offence. A week after Sekkaki's arrest, police detained another YouTuber, Mohamed Ben Bouddouh, known as Moul Hanout, after he posted videos criticising the monarch.
Sekkaki's videos usually exceed 100,000 views and he has some 330,000 followers, although the 12-minute video has now been removed from his channel. The incriminating segment, according to the attorney-general, is where Sekkaki calls Moroccan people "stupid". According to Morocco World News, Sekkaki also said Moroccans only care about videos on body enhancement.
In regards to "insulting" the king, Sekkaki reportedly said his speeches are useless and even parodied one of the king's speeches, saying that Mohammed VI does not even know what he is reading as the talks are prepared for him. At the end of the video, Sekkaki predicts his arrest, stating that he is "not scared, because [he] is only telling facts." Sekkaki's lawyer Mohamed Ziane told AFP that his client will appeal the verdict.
Journalist Omar Radi was also arrested yesterday in Casablanca and now faces trial on charges of insulting the judiciary via a tweet published nine months ago criticising the judge in charge of the case against activists of the Hirak Rif protest movement.
The conviction of the Sekkaki came less than a month after a Moroccan rapper was sentenced to a year in prison for "insulting the police" following the release of a protest song.
Reporters Without Borders, in its latest annual Press Freedom Index, ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries. The cases come after the Moroccan Human Rights Association highlighted in July an "escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms" in Morocco.