Morocco: Censorship Makes Headlines Yet Again

Morocco has made headlines all too often this past year for free speech issues. In December, there was the banning of Morocco's only darija (Moroccan dialect) magazine, Nichane, Aboubakr Jamai was practically forced out of the country to save his magazine, Le Journal, from a hefty fine, May saw Morocco named to CPJ's Backsliders list of countries where press freedom has most deteriorated in recent years, and now, to top it all off, a new story unfolds.

Eatbees has written an extremely comprehensive post detailing the recent events, which followed King Mohammed VI's address to the nation on July 30, Throne Day:

Following the speech, journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi wrote a provocative response that was printed in Nichane. The offending issue was confiscated by the authorities as soon as it reached the stands, but not before a few people got hold of copies. Nichane’s French-language sister publication TelQuel was also seized, before it had even left the presses. No one seems to know whether TelQuel contained a French translation of the same piece (I think this is likely) or something just as offensive to the sensitivities of the Moroccan state.

The story, also found at Reuters, was commented upon by author Laila Lalami in her blog as well:

It's really disheartening to have to write yet another post, about yet another problem in the Moroccan press, but it seems the wheels of censorship never stop.

Francophone blogger Larbi (fr) had a lot to say about the situation as well:

Entendons-nous, ces journaux , ces journalistes et ces personnalités sont dans leur droit de louer et bénir le Souverain. En démocratie il faut accepter les idées des autres . J'irais même jusqu'à exprimer l'idée que tout n'est pas faux dans ce florilège des éloges. Mais que fait-on dans le Maroc d'aujourd'hui quand on est pas convaincu par le discours du Souverain ou quand on est pas d'accord avec ses propos ? Soyons honnêtes: Il n'existe pas un seul dirigeant politique au Monde, pas un seul chef d'Etat pas un seul être humain qui requiert l'unanimité des avis favorables. Ça serait dans l'ordre du miracle et du surhumain! A fortiori quand il s'agit d'un Chef d'Etat on peut ne pas être d'accord avec ses discours. C'est ce qui fait la différence entre un régime autoritaire et un autre en transition…

Let’s be clear, these publications, these journalists and these personalities are within their rights to praise and venerate the Sovereign. In a democracy, we must accept others’ ideas. I would even go as far as expressing the idea that not all in this anthology of praise is false. But what does one do in Morocco today if one isn't convinced by the Sovereign's speech, or when one isn't in agreement with his proposals? Let's be honest. There is not a single political leader in the world, nor a single head of state, nor a single human being who receives unanimously favorable reviews. That would be a superhuman miracle! When it comes to a head of state, it is possible to disagree with his speeches. That is what makes the difference between an authoritarian state and one in transition…

Adel of Netdur's Public Log, who shared a scan of the offending article, had this to say:

King respect!? actually such as crap makes me respect me king less and more angry… here page scanned, small but still readable… enjoy it

Nichane article banned

Lastly, GHASBOUBA summed up his feelings well, saying:

For Many moroccan this is a shame. What was in the magazines that deserves seizure. What did Nichane say. why Nichane? Well it is probably the only magazine of its kind that can be read and understood by many Moroccans. At least those who can read Arabic.. many city dwellers. From different social classes. Other Magazines in French, Classical Arabic , German, Spanish etc are foreign to the majority of Moroccans and “ we do not know how to read those”. They also are expensive. And you do not want to give half of your daily salary for a magazine.
Moroccans still remember the hot days of USFP, and the long glowing hot speeches of Fath Alla Oualalou criticizing the government and crossing the red lines. Now he is sitting in an air-conditioning big office with the other guys giving orders about and shutting down people. very disappointing to many of us who would like to see a morocco where issues of freedom of speech in the folds of the past.

1 comment

  • ac/dc

    Why all this brouhaha for some despicable virus trying to destroy the fabric of our country ?Bernchemsi does not deserve it and it ‘s wrong to support a blind a subversive.
    Why should I sympathise or defend Benchemsi ?
    What does he do for me or for my homeland?
    Is he more important or more valuable than the developer of Morocco?I mean the king.
    What Benchemsi doing is to sabotage the developement of Morocco in every aspect in order to reach popularity and power .It’s pure greed, no more no less. He is actually testing the determination of the government and his luck too .
    Right now , Moroccans don’t need full freedom of speech or full democracy .
    Morocco needs right now jobs, social and economic development .That’s our priority if we have to survive in this competitive world.
    Observ what is happening in Iraq and in some Middle East countries when someone tries to force democracy and all that stuff associated with it !
    These countries fall in chaos and get destabilized.Iran became islamist when Khomeini got the power Iraq and Palestine …and even Lebanon – And it’s there where Benchemsi and his blind supporters want to lead us.
    Morocco and Moroccans will have everything they want in the near future if they have patience without Benchemsi and consorts comme Larbi/org for instance.
    Morocco is not yet a European nor Norway to impose democracy and its bazar ont it, it’s still a developing country
    with 40% of illterate people and which income per capita is about one dollar a day-
    First things first –
    Mohamed VI , the leader and builder of the modern Morocco is right now, is right now the most valuable person for the country .
    Who is Benchemsi?
    What is his value for Morocco?
    What does he really know besides disturbing and embarrassing the king and the country ?
    Benchemsi will deserve what the justice has in store for him especialy that he is still in probation for a precedent crime against the king.

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