Only around a dozen couples actually locked lips in the gathering outside parliament, but the demonstrators insisted they had defended the right to public displays of affection in Morocco’s conservative society.

The kissing case has sparked uproar online, with people protesting against what they see as creeping conservatism in the Muslim country long known for being relatively liberal and tolerant.

More than 2,000 people had indicated they would take part in Saturday’s “kiss-in” but the vast majority failed to show, indicating a gulf between online activism and actual on-the-street protests.

The demonstrators gathered outside parliament for “a symbolic kiss of love”, one participant, Nizar Benamate, told AFP after the display before a group of onlookers and reporters.