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Al Jinane: Championing free speech in Morocco

Tarik Essaadi

For the next few weeks, we'll be offering profiles of bloggers nominated for the Reporters Sans Frontières weblog awards. This profile is part of the series. Please visit the RSF voting page and vote for your favorite blogs. – Your friendly editors

Tarik Essaadi is the blogger behind Al Jinane. His motto: “Bloguer pour comprendre la complexité du monde,“Blogging to understand the complexity of the world.” Al Jinane is the only Moroccan blog to be a finalist in Reporters Sans Frontieres’ Freedom Blog Awards. In his post about the nomination, Essaadi stresses that Al Jinane is “open” to its readers because he hopes to expose the “panorama of Moroccan culture and identity” to a worldwide audience.

Al Jinane, Essaadi says, will soon celebrate its first anniversary, though he also edits an online magazine EMarrakech which has been online since 2000. “It's an old need, to communicate and think ‘in plural,'” he says of his decision to begin blogging. Essaadi strives to be a global citizen, grounded in a strong sense of what's local but reacting to global affairs like a man of the world.

In an email interview, he explained that originally he and his wife (a data processing specialist) worked together on this project; now a team of eight, plus collaborators and partners, work together to weave the fabric of Al Jinane.

Many of the posts at Al Jinane are written by guest authors who Essaadi invites to participate in the blogging conversation. In one recent post, scholar Mohammed Lebabi chronicles a recent conference on what the three “monotheisms” have in common (Lebabi spoke there about the burgeoning hope and liberty experienced by Moroccan Muslims at the dawn of the 21st century, though he chided the organization for the lack of female voices). The post A L'Ombre d'Islam publishes a letter from guest blogger Mohsin Moueddin, arguing in favor of dialogue about Islam and its essential qualities, and decrying anti-Muslim prejudice.

These are the kinds of voices Essaadi publishes, and together they offer a fascinating glimpse into the cultural and political tapestry of Moroccan life. Still, his focus isn't purely on Morocco. Julien Pain has blogged here about bloggers forced to stop publishing in Singapore. And for World Press Day, Al Jinane opened its doors to publish a range of specially-selected articles (often in excerpt form) on the themes of freedom of expression and of the press worldwide.”

Nous publions ces textes pour méditation et par respect aux 53 journalistes tués et 107 emprisonnés dans le monde, seulement pour l'année 2004. le Blog Al Jinane reste ouvert pour toutes réactions qui peut enrichir le débat et pourquoi pas creer l'environnement propice pour des actions qui peuvent être salutaires pour d'autres journalistes sous l'enfer des abus…”

(“We publish these texts [as foci] for meditation, and out of respect for the 53 journalists killed and 107 imprisoned around the world in 2004 alone. The blog Al Jinane remains open for all reactions which might enrich the debate and — why not? — create a propitious environment for actions which might be salutary for other journalists suffering the hell of abuse…”)

Essaadi hopes his blog will serve as a call to young Moroccan bloggers to “release the mooring ropes” and explore the liberty of this new era. He likes blogs which speak the unexpected, shake up static society, and which explore culture (especially in cross-cultural ways) — these, he says, are among the fine qualities of the best Moroccan blogs. His desire to see more Moroccans blogging has led him to help with the creation of WMaker, the first free blogging platform in Morocco, and plans call for launching Moroccan blogging portal soon. He's honored, he says, by the RSF nomination, and looks forward to sharing his perspective on Morocco with more readers as time goes by.


  • oso

    Excellent write up. Even for a non-French reader, I can get a good idea of the general discussion using Babel Fish.

  • Julien

    Googd translation. Apart from my name…
    Julien Pain, not Julien Bread.
    I found it pretty funny though ;)

  • Ah yes, the wonders of automated translation. I hope no one is writing about me in German – it would be very odd to read about myself as Mr. Candyman. Sorry about that, Julien… :-)

  • Julien, my apologies! My French is rusty and I was using babelfish to check my work — I must have copied the “translation” of your name from there, without thinking about it…

  • Refusing Moroccan bloggers to be invited at Marrakech film festival this year 2006 is really a joke. Blog writing is a new style that newspapers envy enthusiastically. may be Marrakech fondation is only scared of free-speech a blogger would use. I rather be a plume than invited with those guady and queer westerns who curse Morocco jsut after eating Coscos.

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