Images circulating on social media and online show a group of fewer than 20 people, mostly men in their 30s and 40s, holding banners bearing anti-Morocco slogans.
Instead of Moroccan flags, protesters carried and waved Rif flags.
The photos show protesters burning Moroccan flags and images of King Mohammed VI and his late father, King Hassan II. The images also show security services surrounding the area.
Protests by Rif separatists in France
Ahead of the protest, one of the demonstrators posted an image of the Moroccan flag on his Facebook page, encouraging people to bring and burn the Moroccan flag. The photo’s caption referred to the flag as “fuel” for the fire.
A Facebook group entitled RIF Boss also posted photographs of the protest, showing demonstrators burning the flag while insulting Morocco and its monarchy.
The photos ignited anger among Moroccans, with several social media users condemning the act.
“Whoever sells his country has no good in him,” Facebook users repeated throughout the comments section on the photographs.
This is not the first time that protesters have burned Moroccan flags. On October 26, 2019, a small demonstration took place in Paris on the 3rd anniversary of the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri.
Rif Separatists in France Burn Moroccan Flag, Photos of King
Fikri was crushed to death in a garbage truck while trying to retrieve merchandise the authorities had confiscated from him. His death ignited the Hirak Rif protest across Morocco’s northern region in 2016 and 2017, with demonstrators calling for an end to the economic disparities and poor living conditions in the region.
The unauthorized protests in northern Morocco led to the arrests of hundreds of activists.
During the recent Paris protest, demonstrators burned the Moroccan flag and, instead, carried Rif and Amazigh (Berber) flags.
Some protesters even carried the Catalan flag.
Morocco’s government condemned the burning of the Moroccan flag at the October protest. MPs also sang the Moroccan anthem during a parliament session in response to the action.
Anti-Moroccan protests in France by RIF separatists
The Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) issued a statement condemning the burning of the flag, describing the move as a “cowardly,” “childish,” and “barbaric” act.
“The desecration of the national flag is a criminal act that has nothing to do with freedom of expression,” stated CCME Secretary-General Abdellah Boussouf.
Article 267-2 of the penal code stipulates that undermining the country’s symbols, or inciting people to commit such acts by speeches, threats or in public places or meetings is a criminal offense.
The article adds that people who commit such acts by speech or writing or in printed items could be sentenced to between three months and one year in prison. Individuals involved in such acts could also pay a fine of 20,000 to MAD 200,000.
Earlier this month a court in central Morocco sentenced a man to two years in prison for insulting the emblems of Morocco.
The man had written a Facebook post allegedly defending the burning of the Moroccan flag at the October 2019 protests in France.