Morocco. In February, Parliament passed a law that would
protect women from forced marriage and violence and sexual
harassment in public places. However, a ban on rape in
marriage was not included in the law, something that the
human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized.
Countryaah.com, the Moroccan newspaper Assahifa al-Ousbouia revealed in
April that Britain's Queen Elizabeth is a descendant of the
founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad. In a family tree,
the newspaper had mapped Queen Elizabeth in direct descent
until the 600s when the prophet was living in Saudi Arabia.
According to British researchers, the theory, which gained
wide international spread, is not entirely unbelievable. An
article in the British newspaper The Economist stated that
the Queen is also a distant relative of both the King of
Morocco and the King of Jordan - and in addition to the
Iranian Ayatollan Ali Khamenei.
In May, Morocco severed diplomatic relations with Iran.
The reason was that Iran, through its allies - the Lebanese
Hizbullah movement - provided the Western Sahara
independence movement Polisario with weapons and military
training, according to Morocco's foreign minister Nasser
Bourita. Iran's foreign ministry and Hizbullah rejected the
The leader of the protest movement Hirakal-Chaabi -
Nasser Zefzafi - was sentenced in June to 20 years in prison
on charges of having "undermined public order and threatened
national unity" in connection with the protests in the Rif
region in 2016. A further 52 activists were sentenced to
prison sentences of between 2 and 20 year. In the Rif
region, where the social and economic problems are great,
protests have been going on since 2016. After the verdict
against Zefzafi was announced, hundreds of protesters
gathered in the capital Rabat.
In October, a new law to protect girls working with
housework came into force. Among other things, the law meant
that a minimum age of 18 years should apply. In addition, a
minimum wage for household services should be introduced.
International migration organization IOM reported during
the year that the number of migrants who came to Spain by
boat from Morocco, or via the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and
Melilla, had increased. The reason was that fewer people
took the dangerous route via Libya to Italy.
During the summer, Italy closed its ports, further
increasing the flow of migrants to Spain.
In August, media reported that Moroccan authorities
forcibly displaced "hundreds, maybe thousands, of migrants"
from camps in northern Morocco further south in the country.
According to human rights groups, it was a way to deter
refugees from entering the EU.
In December, two Scandinavian women were found brutally
murdered at their tent near a popular hiking area in the
High Atlas Mountains. The women studied at a Norwegian
university where they entered a program focusing on outdoor
life. According to the Moroccan police, the act, which was
investigated as a terrorist offense, was aimed at tourists
and not specifically at the women. In the same month, 18
people were arrested with suspected links to the double
murder. Four of them had appeared in a video in which they
swore the terror group IS allegiance.