AZIZ EL YAAKOUBI
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — A Moroccan editorial cartoonist was detained by police after publishing a caricature on his website that they said insulted Islam, the sixth journalist detained in the country in a week.
The prominent cartoonist, Khalid Gueddar, said he was interrogated for six hours on Monday in Casablanca. Gueddar was arrested in 2009 along with another journalist after publishing a caricature of the Moroccan king's cousin. Caricatures of Islam or the royal family are illegal in Morocco. He ultimately received a suspended sentence and a fine of €300,000 ($362,500).
The latest cartoon, which he said he drew in 2011 in response to the arrest that year of an imam accused of soliciting a prostitute in a mosque in Fez, shows someone tossing lingerie from a minaret. He said he published it again to illustrate a similar situation.
"The interrogation focused on what I think of Islam, on my drawings and on my website," Gueddar said.
His lawyer said if charged and convicted, Gueddar could face a harsh sentence and he compared the questioning to an inquisition on religion.
The justice minister, Mustapha Ramid, said he would not intervene in what he described as a normal judicial process.
Last week, five other Moroccan journalists were interrogated for various reasons.
After the Arab Spring protests, Morocco adopted a new constitution that gave more power to the president and granted a degree of freedom of expression, but some punishments for journalists remained on the books.
Pro-democracy demonstrators have remained active in this North African kingdom, and freedom of speech issues have been on the rise.Tags: