Casablanca — Two Moroccan teenagers face trial over a kiss.
The teens were arrested last week for posting their kiss picture on Facebook. The couple and the male friend who took the photo had been held in a juvenile detention centre in Nador until Monday, when they were released to their parents' custody.
The three minors are due to stand trial on Friday (October 11th) for public indecency. Under the kingdom's penal code, anyone found guilty of the charge risks up to two years in prison.
"I will ask the court to drop all of the charges against the three minors and close this case," their lawyer Abdelmounaim Fettahi said.
After being posted on Facebook, the "kissing" image quickly went viral and angered some internet users.
The buzz surrounding the story spread when the photo was reposted on local websites in the city of Nador.
The teens' arrest quickly sparked indignation and controversy. As a demonstration of solidarity, many Moroccans posted similar photos on social networks.
Young people called on Facebook for a "giant kiss-in" on Wednesday in the coastal town of Mohammedia.
"Let's mobilise against the arrest of these two teenagers ... and fight against this backward, medieval mentality," AFP quoted the event organisers as saying.
A similar event, dubbed "free kiss," is planned in Rabat on Saturday outside parliament.
Students were eager to weigh in on the controversy. To Nabil Hassani, a secondary school student in Casablanca, the legal proceedings are excessive.
"If these two minors have done something like this, they should not be jailed, but given advice and guided back onto the right path," he told Magharebia.
His classmate Hamid Barrit said the arrest could traumatise these young people.
"There is dialogue and advice to solve teenagers' problems, but things must also be done very discreetly," he said.
Abira Nouhaila, a commercial law student, agreed that such a harsh crackdown had no place in a matter concerning teenagers.
"Schools must call in teaching specialists to support pupils and give them advice about good manners," she said.
"This matter should never have gotten to this point, because at the end of the day they're just teenagers," said Najat Badi, a final-year pupil.
Another final-year student also thought the charges were unwarranted.
"Prosecuting two minors for a mere gesture of affection is not the right solution," Omar Hafdi said.