BFF-49 Army patrols as Moroccans defy virus measures for prayers





Army patrols as Moroccans defy virus measures for prayers

RABAT, March 22, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Groups of Moroccans went out to pray and
to protest in the streets at the weekend, defying orders to stay at home to
combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Images shared on social networks and broadcast by local media showed
people chanting “God is greatest and only he can help us,” in cities of
Tangiers, Fez and Tetouan.

Some spoke of the virus as a “divine test”.

Mosques in Morocco are closed and religious authorities have told the
faithful to pray at home.

A public health state of emergency went into effect in the Muslim-majority
country on Friday evening, and security forces and the army have been
deployed on the streets.

The military deployed armoured vehicles in the capital Rabat, an AFP
journalist said, as well as in other cities, according to local media.

People have been ordered to stay at home, and restrictions on public
transport and travel between cities are also in place.

Images circulating on social media showed the sometimes heavy-handed
arrest of those not abiding by orders.

The DGSN security force said an individual had been arrested in Casablanca
for selling movement permits, and a policeman in Marrakesh was under
investigation on similar accusations.

Around 20 people have been arrested in recent days for spreading false
information or calling for civil disobedience, the DGSN added.

Morocco last week suspended all commercial international flights “until
further notice”, although special trips were authorised to repatriate
stranded foreigners.

The French embassy in Morocco said on Twitter that some 140 special
flights had been organised to take over 25,000 people to France.

The UK, US and Canada also organised evacuation flights, local embassies

The US embassy, in a tweet Friday, had warned its citizens that Moroccan
airspace would close indefinitely on Sunday morning.

A special provision allowing Moroccans to return from abroad ended on
Sunday at 1100 GMT, a foreign ministry statement said.

The number of officially reported COVID-19 cases in Morocco reached 108 on
Sunday, with three deaths and three recoveries.

The country has two screening centres and 1,642 intensive care beds for 35
million inhabitants.

BSS/AFP/FI/ 2100 hrs