Morocco attacks media lampooning prince-Global Voices

October 4, 2009

Morocco: From Censorship to Seizure

Jillian C. York

Global Voices: October 2, 2009

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Maroc: Après la censure, la mainmise sur les médias indépendants

The Moroccan Interior Ministry has decided to sue Arabic-language daily paper Akhbar Al Youm for publishing a cartoon lampooning the newly wedded Prince Moulay Ismail.  In a statement, the Ministry called the cartoon a “blatant disrespect to a member of the royal family.”  The statement also called out the specific use of the Star of David in the cartoon, stating that it “raises many questions on the insinuations of the people behind it and suggests flagrant anti-Semitic penchants.”

Blogger Analitikis thinks Morocco has lost its sense of humor, but takes issue with the journalist, who claimed that the star was intended to be the five-pointed one of the Moroccan flag, saying:

The whole episode was of course a golden opportunity for the Ministry of the Interior to ban one of the very few independent newspapers in the country…While I do support the journalist’s freedom of expression I do question his recent statement in which he declared that the star was mistaken for a star of David when it’s really just a good old Moroccan one. I, thus, decided to use the very limited Photoshop skills to test the the truthfulness of his testimony… You be the judge

The blogger then attempts to recreate a five-pointed star, proving it impossible…

…and concluding: “I wonder if the German origin of the Prince’s wife have anything to do with this story…”

A Moroccan About the World Around Him analyzes the situation, saying:

The Moroccan government has grown increasingly sensitive to the country’s independent media as they broached subjects considered verboten. Its judicial and political cannonade of independent journalists and artists, and the newspapers and magazines they work for belies its averment it advocates and protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Some observers pointed out that the government stands as the backstage instigator of the ad hominem bickering plaguing the independent media these days.

Knowing the story behind the rift between Bouachrine and Nini of Al Masae, the latter is going to have a field day with this one.

Entre Nous Marocains has written a very detailed post assessing the situation, including two videos in his post.  The blogger concludes:

Durant deux mois, la censure de Telquel, Nichane, Le Monde et les interrogatoires de plusieurs journalistes (Al Ayam, Al Michaal, Al Jarida Al Oula) mais le meilleur pour la fin, la fin d’une époque de censure et d’interrogatoires, et le début d’une époque de saisie de biens. La caricature n’a pas suscitée tout l’intérêt qu’elle suscitera dans les prochains jours. Est-ce que par cette saisie, le ministère empêchera la publication de caricatures, articles sur le Roi ou sur les princes et princesses ?! Ni les censures, ni les interdictions, ni les gros montants de dommages et intérêts n’ont empêchés la publication de tels articles ! Il faut bien penser à une solution qui arrange LES DEUX PARTIES, pas seulement UNE ou AUCUNE comme le cas d’Akhbar Al Youm.

During two months, the censorship of Telquel, Nichane, Le Monde, and the interrogation of several journalists (Al Ayam, Al Mishaal Al Jarida Al Oula), but wait, the best is yet to come: the end of an era of censorship and interrogation and the beginning of a period of seizure of goods. The cartoon has not yet aroused all the interest it will generate in coming days.   By seizing property, will the Interior Ministry prevent the publication of cartoons, articles about the king, the prince, or princesses? Neither censorship or bans, or large amounts of damages have prevented the publication of such articles! We must think of a solution that suits BOTH PARTIES, not just one or none as the case of Akhbar Al Youm.

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