Prominent Morocco Islamists rapped over 'sex on beach pose'

RABAT (AFP) - Two senior Islamist figures in Moroccan politics have been suspended from their party, the group announced on Monday, following media reports that they were arrested in a "sexual pose" on a beach.

Moulay Omar Benhammad and Fatima Nejjar, both in their 60s and vice presidents of the Unity and Reform Movement (MUR), have been "suspended from all structures of the movement", the party said in a statement issued after an emergency meeting of its leadership.

The MUR is the religious and ideological wing of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) which has led a coalition governing the conservative Muslim kingdom since late 2011.

It said they had committed an "extremely serious fault" that amounted to "a violation of the principles of the movement, of its orientation and its values".

According to a private website, Al-Ahdath, police detained Benhammad and Nejjar early last Saturday on a beach in Mohammedia, around 60 kilometres south of Rabat.

They were allegedly found in a "sexual pose" in a car, it said.

A magistrate has released the couple, with the woman, a 62-year-old widow and mother of six, due to appear in court in early September to face a charge of complicity to adultery.

Benhammad, a married 63-year-old father of seven, has said in his defence that he is linked to Nejjar by a common law marriage, according to Al-Ahdath.

His legitimate wife has not pressed for adultery charges but he is accused of "attempted corruption" of the policemen who detained the couple, the website said.

Under Moroccan law, extra-marital sex is punishable by a jail term of between one month and a year.

Some social media in Morocco have revelled in the case, posting videos of Nejjar in full Islamic headdress exhorting female students not to give in to "temptation and vice".