Monday, October 27, 2008

Moroccan jailed for 'king insult'

Moroccan jailed for 'king insult'
Moroccan King Mohamed VI
Open criticism of Moroccan King Mohamed VI is rare

A Moroccan schoolboy, aged 18, has been jailed for insulting the king, after replacing the monarch's name with that of his favourite football club.

He altered the phrase "God, The Nation, The King" on the school blackboard to read "God, The Nation, Barcelona".

FC Barcelona says it has appointed a lawyer to look into whether they can help the boy, within the framework of Moroccan law.

In several cases young men have been jailed for insulting the royal family.

The BBC's James Copnall in Rabat says it is not completely clear whether the court felt the remarks about the football club or other apparent insults to the king were the problem.

The Moroccan justice ministry has not commented on the case.

The family of the boy, Yassine Belassal, is appealing against the ruling, and his father told the BBC he was preparing to write a letter to King Mohamed VI asking for a royal pardon.

An internet campaign is also under way to have Mr Belassel freed.

Earlier this year one man received a three-year sentence for creating a mock Facebook profile of the King's brother, before receiving a royal pardon.

Last month, another man was jailed after suggesting that some royal practices did not help the development of the country.

He was cleared on appeal following a media outcry.

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