Anti-monarchist faces trial in Morocco

A top member of a banned Islamist group who predicted the fall of Morocco’s monarchy and called for the setting up of a republic will go on trial this month. “I’m accused of attacking the monarchic regime and face three to five years imprisonment,” said Nadia Yassine, daughter of Abdeslam Yassine, the spiritual leader of the Justice and Charity group. The group, which rejects violence, is seen as the main opponent to the North African monarchy. It has a strong following in universities and is popular in poor areas.

Nadia told a newspaper last week she expected the monarchy to collapse soon and that “Moroccans can live without King Mohammed.” She also said the Moroccan constitution was “worthy of history’s bin” and called for the setting up of a republic.

“I only expressed my views and, contrary to what they claim, the authorities can’t tolerate freedom of speech,” Nadia told Reuters by phone from her home near Rabat.

Nadia and Abdelaziz Gougass, editor of the al-Ousbouaaya al-Jadida newspaper that published the frontpage interview, will appear at a Rabat court on June 28, the state news agency MAP quoted a judiciary source as saying. Both were interrogated last week by police after the interview appeared. Lawyers said Gougass could be jailed for publishing such remarks under the country’s press law.

MAP added that police had summoned Justice and Charity group’s spokesman Fathallah Arsalane for interrogations after he backed up Nadia in comments published this week.

Justice and Charity is banned from politics but allowed to do charity and other work linked mainly to education. However, it has in the past brought out hundreds of thousands of sympathisers in public protests, mainly in solidarity with the Palestinians. (Reuters, June 9)

See our last post on Moroccan standards of justice.