Man jailed for flying Israeli flag

A Moroccan man has been sentenced to six months in jail for flying the Israeli flag over his home. According to an Al-Arabiya report, Mohammed Jadidi, 42, raised the flag over his home in Nador, a predominantly Amazigh town, to protest the local authorities after electricity and water were disconnected to his home. Jadidi was arrested last Monday and charged with sacrilege by undermining the Moroccan national flag.

Jadidi’s mother is currently protesting his arrest stating that he only raised the Israeli flag to attract the attention of the senior government officials to the compromised conditions of his family. The local Rif Association for Human Rights also slammed the court’s ruling as baseless. The human rights organization affirmed that flying a foreign flag over one’s home cannot be deemed as undermining the Moroccan flag.

The following video has circulated on Moroccan websites in which Jadidi’s mother appeals to King Mohammad VI to release her son.

I feel that the arrest of Mohammed Jadidi reflects two deep seeded conflicts: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Amazigh-Arab identity conflict in Morocco. Jadidi is from a predominately Amazigh town were anti-Moroccan sentiments are likely to percolate. The Amazighs in Morocco have become increasing vocal demanding recognition of their rights as a minority. They want the Amazigh language to be recognized as an official language and want increased development in impoverished Amazigh regions. Although the article does not identify Jadidi as Amazigh, the video suggests that he lives in one of the impoverished Amazigh communities where anti-Moroccan sentiments are common. This suggests one of the reasons for his decision to actively protest Moroccan authorities by flying the Israeli flag.

It is extremely upsetting that flying the Israeli flag would precipitate such a fierce response. Anti-Israeli sentiment is commonly expressed throughout the Arab world; however, Morocco has historically possessed a certain level of religious freedom within its borders. In the past Jews and Christians have been allowed to freely practice their respective religions in Morocco. I think that the Moroccan court went too far in sentencing Mohammed Jadidi to six months in prison. Perhaps it was an ill-fated choice to display such a politically charged symbol, but in this case the punishment far exceeds the crime.

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