A Moroccan court on Wednesday sentenced a key figure in the Islamic group, Justice and Spirituality, to one-year imprisonment, after he was found guilty of sexual harassment.
The case dates back to October 2022. Mohammed Aarab Baasou was also ordered to pay nearly $6,000 in damages to the victim. Charges of human trafficking were dropped against him.
Baasou has become the face of a scandal that revealed the duality of the Islamic group’s discourse. Despite a robust defense of Baasou, the group did not condemn the behavior that contradicts religious and moral principles.
Hassan Benajeh, a leader within the group, told Agence France-Presse that the Primary Court in Meknes, central north Morocco, convicted his colleague Baasou to one year of imprisonment for “sexual harassment and public indecency,” along with a compensation of about $6,000 to the victim demanding civil rights.
The woman, who was with the accused when he was arrested last October, initially charged him with “adultery,” according to Benajeh.
The judiciary later pursued him for “human trafficking,” “public indecency,” and “enticing individuals into prostitution” after she accused him of “sexually exploiting her,” according to her lawyer, Aisha Klaa.
Klaa added that the accused “exploited the vulnerability of his victim, in exchange for a promise of employment.” However, the Justice and Spirituality group believed he was tried due to his political activities.
Benajeh said: “Re-contextualizing to justify the conviction only reinforces the targeted prosecution of Baasou due to his affiliations and views.”
On his part, Baasou insisted on his innocence of the charges attributed to him. He claimed he was subjected to pressure, threats, and bargaining during his arrest under temporary custody.
He also alleged that the investigators discussed with him topics unrelated to the case, as published by the Spirituality group on their website.