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(Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Moroccan Journalist Jailed for Alleged Abortion Receives Pardon

Independent journalist Hajar Raissouni, who received a prison sentence for an alleged abortion that she claimed was a political setup to censor her writing, has been pardoned by the King of Morocco.

UPDATE (October 16, 2019): King Mohammed VI of Morocco has pardoned Hajar Raissouni today, as Al Jazeera reports. The news was given via the justice ministry who said that the King's involvement was "an act of compassion and mercy." In addition to Rasissouni, her fiance, her doctor and two medical professionals were also pardoned.

In the court proceedings, Raissouni and her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin, said they had already been wed in ceremony, but not legally. The reporting states that the fact that Raissouni and her soon-to-be husband had wanted to begin their family as a married couple—which is to say legally—had an impact on the decision.

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Following protests outside her trial, a Moroccan court in Rabat has sentenced journalist Hajar Raissouni, 28, to one year in prison for having an abortion and sex outside of marriage. Raissouni, however, claims she had no such abortion and that this sentence is retaliation for articles she has written criticizing the government of the North African country. The events have left many dismayed and feeling that this is part of a political strategy to minimize women's rights and stifle free speech.

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Mohamed El Hatmi. Photo by Stn Lens.

The Master Musicians of Joujouka

"In 1970, I found my way up into the Rif Mountains of Morocco where I encountered a tribe of musicians. I was so blown away by what I found there that I tore up my return ticket and stayed for a couple of years."

Music industry executive and longtime Fela Kuti manager, Rikki Stein, recollects his nearly five-decade-old history with the Master Musicians of Joujouka—from his first encounter with them in the 1970s, to them opening Glastonbury Festival in 2011, up until their recent performance at this year's Dior Defilé in Marrakech.

I've been very lucky. Over the past 50 years I've enjoyed the privilege of being around and working with some of the world's most gifted musicians, mostly as friends. I often hear it said that you should never work with friends. Rubbish! I only want to work with friends! Why? Because you can say more or less anything to your friends. It was on that basis that my friendship with Fela developed in the early eighties into a 15 year working relationship.

But much earlier, in 1970, I found my way up into the Rif Mountains of Morocco where I encountered a tribe of musicians. I was so blown away by what I found there that I tore up my return ticket and stayed for a couple of years. I'm talking about the Master Musicians of Joujouka.

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