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Yemen newspaper editor faces death for printing Muhammad cartoons

[JURIST] Prosecutors in Yemen Wednesday called for the death penalty against the editor of a Yemen newspaper who republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad [JURIST news archive] originally printed in a Danish newspaper in September. Muhammad al-Asadi was arrested [JURIST report] last month with three other editors at the Yemen Observer [media website] on charges of "offending Islam". Lawyers commissioned by the Shura Council of Islah, a Yemeni Islamic party, also argued for the permanent shutdown of the paper and confiscation of its assets. Al-Asadi was defended by lawyers from Yemen's National Organisation for Defending Rights and Liberties (HOOD) [advocacy website], and international observers from Amnesty International were in attendance in the courtroom. The Yemen Observer has more.

According to the Observer - which had its license to print revoked over the matter, but continues to publish content online - prosecutors plan to justify the death penalty based on a long-standing Islamic legal precedent that stems from a story in which Muhammad was insulted by a woman and then offered praise for the man that killed her. Asadi has steadfastly denied the charges against him. His trial has now been adjourned, but will resume on March 22. In the meantime, the Observer has called for the return of its license [Yemen Observer editorial]. BBC News has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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