HEAVY METAL FANSJAILED IN MOROCCO

Fourteen men aged between 22 aand 35 are sentenced for moral and religous crimes...

Fourteen heavy metal musicians and fans have been given prison sentences by a court in CASABLANCA for moral and religious crimes.

The men, aged between 22 and 35, were found guilty of “possessing objects which infringe morals” and were convicted of “acts capable of undermining the faith of a Muslim.”

Their sentences, which could last up to a year, followed newspaper articles claiming that they were “Satanists” involved in an international cult of devil-worshippers.

Parents and friends of those convicted are in uproar and argue that the case should have never gone to court, blaming older members of the establishment for not understanding youth culture.

Nine of the convicted men were members of three Moroccan heavy metal bands – Nekros, Infected Brain and Reborn.

TelQuel, a French-language weekly magazine, has ridiculed the judge’s remarks that “normal people go to concerts in a suit and tie,” rather than the black heavy metal T-shirt that was shown to the courtroom.

Driss Ksikes, chief editor at TelQuel, told Reuters: ‘Morocco’s young people will not feel at home in their own country. Our judicial system needs psychologists if they don’t understand that young people are by essence subversive and like to shock.”

The judge also condemned one musician for writing lyrics in English rather than Arabic. The penal code in Morocco allows a maximum sentence of three years for attempting to convert a Muslim to another faith.

Journalist Nourredine Ben Malik, whose interview with a 21-year old heavy metal fan for the weekly publication As-Sahifa allegedly prompted the police investigation, said: “I am against these sentences… there was no solid argument behind them, and I’ve signed a petition saying as much. These are just young people who like a certain kind of music.

“If there is a problem with their thinking it is not a matter for the courts but for their families, political parties and society.”

The incident had added to the growing dissent in the country that authorities are losing touch with the country’s youth.