Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Love your club over the king? This way to jail.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI

FC Barcelona has some dedicated fans, but I think Yassine Belassal is the strongest one yet. He's looking at jail time for his expression of love for the blaugrana.

In Morocco, the phrase "God, The Nation, The King" is a common expression, for it encapsulates the three things all Moroccans must love and respect. It's rare for people to speak out openly against the current monarch, King Mohamed VI, but those that have end up in jail, and young Mr. Belassal has recently joined them.

Yassine, an 18-year-old schoolboy, came into the classroom and altered the phrase written on the blackboard to read "God, The Nation, Barcelona", and it became so much more than detention and extra homework.

It is unclear whether the court felt the problem was about the football club or the inference against the king, but Yassine is currently sitting in jail awaiting resolution. Barcelona have appointed a lawyer to look into the legal fine print to see whether the boy can be helped under the letter of Moroccan law.

Based on the precedent set earlier this year, it's not looking good -- Fouad Mourtada was jailed for 3 years after creating a spoof Facebook profile for the King's brother. A blogger was also jailed in 2008 for speaking out against the king on his website, but he was released and cleared upon appeal, giving some hope to Belassal and his family.

So to summarize: love your club, but don't love it like this in a country that's still coming round to the 21st century. I hope this one works out in the end.

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