La Yassine Is Ready For Her Close-Up

Nadia Yassine, daughter of the infamous Cheikh Yassine and the de facto leader of the unofficial Islamist group Al-Adl Wal-Ihsane, is interviewed over at the BBC. Ms. Yassine has been in the news recently because of remarks she made to the press stating her preference for a republic rather than a kingdom in Morocco. The result: a prosecutor charged her with insulting the king. She was set to go on trial, but after unprecedented media attention, the trial was postponed and no new date set.

Of course, I support Yassine’s right to free speech, as well as her right to dispose of her body however she wishes, whether by veiling it or uncovering it. However, before we start turning her into a saint, consider first what kind of a republic she wants. You get one guess. That’s right. Islamic. And we all know what a great record Islamic republics have had in terms of human rights and free speech.

Next, consider Nadia Yassine’s stance on women’s rights. In the BBC interview, she brags about how her husband is a wonderful, wonderful man.

Her husband is a university professor and also a senior member of the organisation.

She says he helped her bring up the children and is anything but a traditional Arab husband.

Good for her. But, as it happens, the rest of Moroccan women aren’t married to her husband. They want to have equal rights under the law, and the recent reform of the Moudawana was a gigantic step in that direction. And what was Ms. Free-Speech doing? Why, demonstrating against the reform!

But despite that, she demonstrated against recent reforms of family law giving Moroccan women precisely these rights.

She says the demonstration was political in nature, and not religious.

The government’s reforms were cosmetic and mainly intended to improve its international image rather than helping women, she adds.

And while she complains about the ‘cosmetic’ (in fact, very real) changes, other activists, like those cited here, are actually doing something for women.

It has been clear for quite some time that Nadia Yassine wants street cred. (perhaps in preparation for turning Al-Adl Wal-Ihsane into a political party) and the recent skirmishes she had with the state prosecutor served that purpose for her. The fact that the prosecutor has backtracked means that there is some realization somewhere that the state has played into her hands. Let’s hope that this lesson has been learned. Nadia Yassine is one example of the disease that ails Morocco. I’d love to debate her, if given the chance.