Watch Out, Barça Fans

Moroccan judges seem to be in a competition to find out who will issue the most excessive, most ridiculous, and most embarrassing ruling for the country. The latest example comes from the town of Ait Ourir in the province of Marrakech, where a high school student named Yassine Belassal was arrested, tried, and promptly sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for insult to the king because he allegedly wrote “God, Nation, Barça” on the blackboard.

Morocco’s motto is ‘God, Nation, King’; Barça is the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona.

Belassal is in his senior year and also a national champion in karate.  He may or may not have had legal representation at his speedy trial; he may have written the motto on a wall outside or on the blackboard in class; he may have acted alone, or with a group of three friends; his last name might be Belassal or Ait Ben-Lassal—the facts of the case are somewhat unclear. What is clear, however, is that he is now in prison, serving a sentence at the Boulmharez jail, for what seems like a harmless case of football hyperbole.

You can find out more about the case from Al Massae (in Arabic) or El Mundo and El Pais (in Spanish.) For some legal background, check out the blog of Ibn Kafka. There is also a Facebook group.