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King Mohammed VI of Morocco and approved among others Act N 17-05, curbing the outrage to the emblem and symbols (flag, national anthem, arms and orders) of the Kingdom of Morocco. Until now, there was nothing in criminal laws in Morocco concerning such outrages.
The law is divided into eight articles constituting two chapters.
The first chapter describes the prosecution for an individual or collective outrage to the emblem and symbols of the kingdom. Outrage to these symbols is punishable by 6 months to 3 years' imprisonment and a 10,000 to 100,000-dirham fine. If the outrage is committed during a meeting or a rally, the sentence is increased to one to five years in prison, the fine range being unchanged.An attempt of outrage is equally punishable. The culprits may be sentenced to deprivation of one or more civic rights listed in Article 40 of penal code for one to 10 years. They may also be denied access to the national territory for 2 to 10 years.
Article 3 prescribes that everybody guilty of "praise to the outrage to the emblem and symbols, or incitment to commit such acts by speech, shouts or threats in public places, or by printed documents sold, given out or exhibited by different radio and television and electronic information means" is punishable to 3 month to one year's imprisonment and a 20,000 to 200,000-dirham fine.
The second chapter concerns the flag in general. Following a precise definition of this emblem (see below), Article 5 states that people can use it according to a model whose characteristics shall be defined by the competent authority, wich shall also decide the rules of use of the flag. Every commercial use of the flag is prohibited when non authorized by the administration. Article 6 prohibits the possession and sale in a commercial or industrial aim of products bearing a reproduction of the flag as their trademark when non authorized by the administration. Infraction of the law is punishable by a 50,000 to 500,000-dirham fine. In the event of a subsequent offence, the fine will be doubled.
Ivan Sache,15 Aug 2005
This law shows great similarities with the French law on the same topic, especially its rationale. The French law on the protection of the national symbols was drafted and adopted in a hurry after a few public events - mostly football matches - during which the national anthem had been booed by supporters.
In Morocco, the law was drafted following the increase in agitation in the former Spanish Sahara, considered by Morocco as part of its national territory since the Green March organized in 1976 in the north of this area and the withdrawal of Mauritania from the south in 1979, and revendicated as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic by Polisario Front. A self-determination referendum has been planned since 1988 and ever been postponed, since nobody agrees on whom should participate to the referendum. The Sahrawis are supported by Algeria, which take in refugee camps and Polisario back up camps in the Sahara. Kenya recently recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which is a second big diplomatic setback for Morocco after the recognition of the Republic by South Africa last year.
There were big hopes of modernization and democratization of Morocco after the crowning of Mohammed VI in 1999. Significant achievements were obtained concerning the politica life and the status of women, but the press is still not free, especially when dealing with the south of the country. Economy did not took off as expected and poverty increased in the less-developed areas. In the south of the country, the situation of the Sahrawis seems to be hopeless in spite of official promises of development of the south. Young Sahrawis recently (May-June 2005) demonstrated violently in the cities of the south, especially in Laayoune, the virtual capital city of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The demonstrations turned to riots, during which the national flag of Morocco, omnipresent in the south as a sign of sovereignty (1), was hoisted down, trampled, torn and burned, and replaced with the flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Some of the culprits were arrested and immediatly sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, and a hysteric campaign broke out in the press in Morocco (again, the press is not free). The logical consequences of these facts was the draft of the new law on the protection of the national symbols.
Source: Mohamed Chaoui, press articles in "L'Economiste du Maroc" (22 June 2005) and "L'Opinion" (9 July 2005)
Cédric de Fougerolle and Ivan Sache,15 Aug 2005
The serial on the law on the outrage to the national symbols of Morocco is close to its end:
On 24 November 2005 the Chamber of Councillors adopted unanimuously the act 17-05 punishing "outrage to the national flag and the symbols of the Kingdom". The House of Representatives adopted the same act before on 20 October 2005.
The act shall amend the Penal Code with a new section entitled "Outrage to the national flag and the symbols of the Kingdom". This shall allow the public authorities and the justice to have a legal mechanism of enquiry and repression.
Source: article in Al Bayane (Casablanca), 25 November 2005 at this webpage
Ivan Sache, 26 Nov 2005
When King Hasan II launched the "Green March" to the south after the Spaniards' withdrawal, every marcher was invited to carry (or, more probably, was given) a big national flag, as can be seen on several pictures from that time. I drove last year from Agadir to Mirleft, the former border city with Spanish Sahara, and saw in all the villages several brand new national flags. The colleagues of mine who went further southwards to Ifni and Tan-Tan made the same observations.
Ivan Sache, 15 Aug 2005
Article 4 prescribes the characteristics of the flag. The flag shall be red with a green five-pointed star in the middle. It shall be made with a piece of fast ("grand teint") fabric, bright red, opaque and rectangular in shape. The star shall be voided ("ouverte"), of green palm-tree colour, made of five continuous branches and woven in the fabric used for the flag [i.e. not woven separately and sewn onto the flag]. The star must be visible on both sides of the flag. One of its point must point upwards. The overall ratio of the flag shall be 2:3. The star is inscribed in an invisible circle whose radius equals 1/6th of the flag length and whose centre is the intersection point of the invisible diagonals of the flag. The width of each branch of the star shall be 1/20th of its length.
Ivan Sache, 15 Aug 2005
The star is inscribed in an invisible circle whose radius equals 1/6th of the flag length. That is one quarter of the height; the diameter is thence half of the flags's height. That would mean that the correct Morocco flag image is the one currently in our site decribed as "with big star" as in use for ensigns -- well, not only.
Does this contradict the previous laws -- of 1912, 1956, 1974 and 1992? I don't know about 1974 and 1992, but it certainly contradicts (or rather amends) the laws of 1915, 1923 and 1956 which give the pentacle as being contained with a circle of diameter = 1/3 of flag width.
Christopher Southworth, 25 Aug 2005
The fact that the diameter of the star is defined as 1/3 of the flag's height in the previous law and now is given as 1/2, i.e. 1/3 of lenght, intentional or unadverted, means a flag change.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 29 Aug 2005
I think that the intention was to define explicitely the design of the national flag. Since the aim of the law was obviously to protect the flag against unwanted use, giving details might help to seize a lot of home-made flags which would not match exactly the models. This might be the reason why it is explicitely stated that emblem should not be stitched over the flag, making it much more difficult to produce a legal flag.
Ivan Sache, 3 Sep 2005
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