Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Anti-gay witchhunt in Morocco

American theocrats aren't the only ones who whip up irrational homophobia (oops, that's redundant) for political ends. Reuters reports a half dozen Moroccan men were jailed for homosexual acts.

The six were arrested in late November after rumours spread that a party they had held in the northern town of Ksar el Kebir was really an illegal gay wedding. The national press pounced on the story, and Islamist groups condemned what they saw as an attack on public morals and demanded an official investigation. Hundreds of angry residents marched through Ksar el Kebir to demand "justice" and put pressure on the authorities to hand out harsh sentences.

All were sentenced to several months in prison. "We're also concerned for their safety," said Benedicte Goderiaux of Amnesty International, who declared them prisoners of conscience. "Some of them should get out of prison within about 15 days -- what will happen to them after all the public threats against them?"

A local journalist told Radio France Internationale that the public hysteria whipped up about this affair was a worrying sign, as Morocco had always been a conservative culture but had eschewed radical Islam. He noted that this might be changing as some Arab satellite channels being beamed into the country pound home more hardline Islamist messages.

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