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Ahmed Raissouni stirs anger among Moroccan activists amid personal freedoms debate

Days after the release of his niece, Moroccan scholar Ahmed Raissouni criticized in an article the women who showed support for Hajar Raissouni and called for expanding personal freedoms. His words stirred anger among human rights activists.

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Moroccan scholar Ahmed Raissouni. / Ph. DR

Days after his niece was granted royal pardon, Moroccan Islamist jurist and former head of the Movement of Unity and Reform, a social movement branch of the Moroccan Islamist party, took to the internet to denounce voices calling for the expansion of women’s rights and personal freedoms.

On Saturday, October 19, the current chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars criticized, in an article he published on his website, women who want to amend laws related to «premarital sex and abortion» amid the arrest of Hajar Raissouni, a Moroccan journalist.

«Recently, I have seen immoral women carrying banners in which they admit that they have had forbidden sex and abortions», Raissouni wrote.

The Moroccan scholar did not stop there but stressed in his statement that «personal freedoms must be regulated and disciplined just like the use of cars, boats and other vehicles».

A fundamentalist figure

The words of Raissouni, however, did not go unnoticed. His latest statements were criticized by several figures that have been calling for the release of his niece, who was sentenced to one year in prison late September on charges of «illegal abortion» and «sexual relations outside marriage».

On Sunday, Hajar Raissouni was the first to reply to the statement of her uncle. «I was surprised to see that some independent figures associate my name to that of Mr. Ahmed Raissouni, while criticizing his position on personal freedoms (…) that I do not agree on», she argued.  

On her Facebook account, Raissouni stressed that her uncle is «a fundamentalist figure and his positions on freedoms are influenced by the ideology that surrounds him, whether I am behind the bars or not». «He will not become a liberal», the Akhbar Al Yaoum journalist insisted.

«I take this opportunity to thank the people who showed me support during my arrest and I express my solidarity with the women who have been subjected to symbolic violence, whether it was through Ahmed Raissouni or someone else», she concluded.

An «irresponsible and reckless» speech

Hajar Raissouni was not the only one to comment on Ahmed Raissouni’s words. Political scientist and Constitutional law professor Omar Cherkaoui has also taken to social media to denounce the Islamist’s words. To Cherkaoui, Raissouni’s words were «irresponsible and reckless». «In addition to defaming some women, Raissouni undermined his own story, allowing others to criticize him», he added.

Meanwhile, leftist political activist Khallid El Bekkari said that Ahmed Raissouni «wanted to discuss a human rights concept that he does not understand». «I was shocked to see that the gentleman is talking about ‘having sex in public spaces’, prostitution and adultery when referring to personal freedoms, without knowing that none of those who defend personal freedoms is calling for such things», he explained.

El Bekkari denounced the fact that Raissouni «waited for the release of his niece from prison to express his hatred towards women who showed support for Hajar in their own way. It is shameful».

On the other hand, Mohammed Abdelouahab Rafiqui, also known as Abu Hafs, denounced the words of Ahmed Raissouni, by reposting his statement with a caption, saying : «There is no power or strength save in Allah».

Ahmed Raissouni's remarks also made journalists react, including Ridouane Erramdani. «Tell him that when he talks about women in such an impudent and shameless way, he does not offend them, but rather offends himself».

For the record, the debate on personal freedoms has emerged after the arrest of Hajar Raissouni, who was granted royal pardon earlier this month, alongside her fiancé and medical team.

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