Moroccans protest against Femen outside French embassy

Homosexual acts are a crime in Morocco, and anyone found guilty of carrying out “a deviant act with a person of the same sex” can be jaileD

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Hundreds of people protested outside France’s embassy in Rabat Thursday against a topless publicity stunt by French members of controversial feminist group Femen highlighting Morocco’s treatment of homosexuals.

Homosexual acts are a crime in Morocco, and anyone found guilty of carrying out “a deviant act with a person of the same sex” can be jailed for up to three years.

Around 1,500 men, boys and veiled women turned out carrying placards that read “Down with Femen,” “None of that here” and “No to attacks on sacred Moroccan values.”

They were protesting Tuesday’s incident in which the two bare-breasted French women, one with “in gay we trust” written on her torso, were arrested after appearing in front of a Rabat landmark.

The women, accused of performing “an obscene sequence” and “sporting a slogan that offend public morality,” were expelled from the country and banned from returning.

Driss Ould Hsayn, a fortysomething demonstrator, said: “We gathered here as Muslims to protest against these two French women... We were brought up by our parents according to Islamic principles, which must be respected.”

Touhami Ben Lamaalam, in her 50s, said: “We cannot accept that these girls undress in front of a religious symbol that has an ancestral history.”

She was referring to the Hassan Tower, a landmark minaret in the Moroccan capital.

“We have principles, and reject anything that touches on the image of the country and of Islam.”

Thursday’s demonstration came amid reports that two Moroccan men had been arrested for kissing in public in apparent solidarity with the French women, and that a Spanish feminist was expelled after a pro-homosexuals protest.

The two men had gone to the Hassan Tower Wednesday and kissed, the news website Goud reported.

The interior ministry said they were arrested for “an obscene act.”

Goud also reported that a Spanish woman, said to have links with the Femen protest, had been expelled from Morocco.

The ministry denounced what it said was “a series of provocations and harassment carried out by foreign organizations who deliberately violate Moroccan laws... to undermine morality.”

Last week three men accused of homosexuality were jailed for three years each.

In March, Human Rights Watch called on Morocco to decriminalize homosexuality, saying that “criminalizing consensual, adult homosexual conduct violates international human rights law.”

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