Monday, March 23, 2020

Morocco Extends State of Emergency - Latest Updates

Moroccan internet users, academics, and public speakers have gone online to express frustration and anger after large crowds of people flooded the streets in Fez, Tetouan, Tangier, and Sale on March 22nd despite the state of emergency imposed to restrict movement and stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. (See story and videos here) In response, Morocco’s government announced plans to extend the state of emergency for a month.

A statement from the government council on Sunday announced that Morocco's state of emergency will end on April 20, 2020.

The government council approved the draft law 2.20.292 that seeks strict legal actions against anyone who defies the state of emergency, in accordance with Article 81 of the 2011 Moroccan constitution.

Meanwhile, thousands of Moroccans took to social media to criticise the “irresponsible” actions of people .

Youssef El Kaidi, a professor at the University of Fez, believes the marches may have been coordinated demonstrations.
I think the midnight marches that occurred simultaneously in several cities in Morocco is not a coincidence.”  - Youssef El Kaidi
Professor El Kaidi said the people who marched in several cities and chanted the same slogans “seem to have the same ideology and must be driven by the same agendas.” He described the idea to march in masses as a “suicidal act” that might increase the number of infections across Morocco.

“Therefore, the state should strike with an iron fist on all those disruptive voices who want to jeopardise the situation and break the exemplary unity and solidarity shown by all Moroccans since the early beginning of the crisis,” El Kaidi warned and emphasised that the best thing Moroccans can do is obey preventive measures and “stay at home.”

Washington-based media analyst Youssef Eddazi warned that Moroccans should comply with instructions and orders that authorities put in place. Speaking to Morocco World News, Eddazi said, “They have to understand that we are in this together. This is a very critical moment in the effort to slow the spread of the virus. Thus, enforcing social distancing and other measures must be taken seriously otherwise we will witness a total collapse of our health system,”

Soukayna Benjelloun, Vice President of the Regional Council of National Order of Architects in Tangier, remarked that such demonstrations “occur only in districts where the intellectual and socio-professional level is low.”

“Urban policy teaches us that precarious areas are often home to religious fanaticism, some forms of extremism and ignorance due to lack of means and resources,” she stressed.

She suggested the Moroccan government take advantage of statistics from the High Commission of Planning and put the areas under “high surveillance to repress any gathering” during the state of emergency, as the situation in Morocco grows more serious. “The state no longer has time to invest in awareness-raising,” she warned.

Benjelloun also said the state should ensure a protective role by “supplying people in need with food” and sanctioning those who do not want to respect preventive measures.

In addition to Benjelloun, a group of lawyers released a joint complaint against religious speakers, including Redouan Ben Abdeslam, “spiritual healer” (raqi) Achraf El Hayani, and El Monshid Tetouani.

The complaint submitted to the public prosecutors office condemns El Hayani, for “terrorist acts, disobedience” and for participating in unauthorised rallies as well as for not complying with the orders put in place amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

In response to the demonstrations, Morocco’s government approved the draft law 2.20.292 to impose legal actions against anyone who defies the state of emergency.

The government council approved the draft law 2.20.292 that seeks strict legal actions against anyone who defies the state of emergency, in accordance with Article 81 of the 2011 Moroccan constitution. Anyone who defies the state of emergency and the orders of Moroccan authorities will receive a sentence ranging between one to three months in prison. Convicted suspects will have to pay a fine ranging between MAD 300 to 1300 ($30 to $132).

Morocco declared a state of emergency on March 19. Citizens and residents can only go to work, buy essentials, or receive medical care with “exceptional movement permits” signed by local authorities.

The latest numbers
According to figures from the Ministry of Health, seven new cases of positive infection Covid-19 was registered on Monday March 23 at 11:00. This development brings the total number of people infected to 122.

The new cases are distributed as follows:

Casablanca-Settat (1), Fès-Meknès (2), Rabat-Salé-Kénitra (3) and Tanger-Téoutan-Al Hoceima (1)..


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