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.
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.
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…
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
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.