The Moroccan Police Force has arrested dozens of people in the country for allegedly spreading false information about the deadly global pandemic, coronavirus, saying that such move would undermine government efforts to curb possible spread of the infection and cause unnecessary panic among its people.
The police explained that such spread of rumours was criminal and had malicious intent to cause harm to the country, its government and its people, and that it had become paramount that arrests be made of people who have inflamatory comments or actively spread false information in the country.
Moroccan Prime Minister, Saad Eddine El-Otmai, reiterated that the government would not tolerate the spread of false allegations and rumours, stating that such could disrupt society and cause mass panic and hysteria amongst the people, and that it was in avoidance of such situations that the police had carried out the arrests.
Speaking to newsmen on Thursday, El-Otmai stated that those who had been arrested had flouted the law and deliberately spread false information through various platforms against the country, and that their arrests had been carried out to ensure security of lives and property of law abiding Moroccans by putting an end to rumours and propaganda which, if left unchecked, could heat up the polity and cause great damage.
He revealed that the arrests had included a man, Abou Naim, who was charged with instigating hatred and undermining public order following his social media post in which he castigated the government’s decision to close all mosques and limit religious gatherings over coronavirus incidence in the country.
Also arrested was a woman who had falsely claimed, through a widely publicised Whatsapp voice note, that one of Morocco’s biggest cities, Marrakech, was under lockdown while warning people not to go there, as well as another 48-year-old woman who was taken into custody yesterday for making a post on her YouTube channel in which she claimed that the coronavirus infection did not exist, adding that it was a scam and urging her compatriots to ignore taking precautionary measures against the infection.
“Fake news is the first cause of panic among citizens”, El-Otmai
According to the prime minister, such reckless claims should not be left unpunished so that it would serve as deterrent in the future for anyone who wished to toe the same line as the alleged criminals.
It would be recalled that the North African country has confirmed 61 cases of the novel coronavirus infection and two casualties, which led to government policies on closures of mosques, schools, cafes, restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, and the ban of all international passenger flights.