A teenage boy and girl in Morocco who posted a photo of themselves on Facebook kissing have been arrested for violating public decency and are being held in a juvenile detention facility awaiting a hearing, a human rights group says.
President of the Rif Association of Human Rights Chakib al-Khayari tells AFP, “It involves a teenage boy and his girlfriend. They were arrested on Thursday for violating public decency by posting a photo of them kissing” in the northeastern town of Nador.
The picture of the 15 and 14-year-olds was taken outside their high school and somehow ended up being printed in the local newspaper, sparking a public outcry that prompted the complaint to police.
The boyfriend and girlfriend, along with their 15-year-old friend who snapped the photo, were picked up on Thursday and are being held in a juvenile detention center. Their friends and supporters are holding a sit-in outside the facility to demand their release, according to AFP.
Moroccans who are upset at their detention have launched an online campaign asking others to post photos of themselves kissing.
Ibtissame Lachgar of the Alternative Movement for Individual Liberties (MALI) is aiming for one million copycat photos posted to support the teenagers, according to the BBC.
She even posted this photo of herself as her Facebook profile photo kissing a fellow male activist in solidarity with the high school kids.
AFP reports that the teenage couple will face a juvenile court judge at a hearing next Friday.
According to the BBC, the Islamic religious leaders of mosques in Nador have been speaking about the incident and are urging parents to keep a closer eye on their children.
The BBC reports:
Comments on the case on Facebook and Twitter vary wildly. Some decry the police’s response, urging them to focus on more serious crimes. Others accuse society of hypocrisy for castigating a young couple for copying what they see on TV. Other internet users have called the couple names. A few blame the couple’s parents for failing to teach them well.
The case is reminiscent of a similar incident last month in Egypt in which a boy and a girl wearing a headscarf posted a photo of themselves kissing which prompted criticism in conservative Islamic circles. Here is that photo:
“You’ve got to delete this photo, because you are a Muslim, and you must be punished,” was one of the comments posted online.