Background Briefing

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Al-Ousbou`iyya director charged for interview questioning monarchy

The prosecution of Abdelaziz Koukas, director of al-Ousbou`iyya al-Jadida, andof Islamist Nadia Yassine exemplifies the legal dangers of posing even general questions about the monarchy. Both Koukas and Yassine, who is spokesperson for Justice and Charity, a Moroccan Islamist movement, face prison if convicted for an interview with Yassine that al-Ousbou`iyya al-Jadida published on June 6, 2005. In that interview, Yassine called the monarchy a form of government that was ill-suited to the country. The state prosecutor subsequently charged her and Koukas with “undermining” the institution of the monarchy, under Article 41 of the Press Code.

The court has postponed the trial of Yassine and Koukas several times, most recently on March 14, 2006.  It has not announced a new date, but the charges hang over both defendants. The prosecutor’s office used the charges as a pretext to prevent Yassine from traveling abroad on February 20. They allowed her to depart two days later – too late, she said, to attend the event that was the motive for her trip.

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