Morocco: Censorship Update

2006 was a rough year for Moroccan internet freedoms, with several sites being blocked; 2007 wasn't much better with sites that were previously open becoming only sporadically accessible.

Moi, dans tous mes états (fr) summarized freedom of internet (as well as other forms of media) in a recent post:

A l’heure des podcasts et autres émissions sur le réseau internet, la régulation est un leurre.

« Et nous sommes arrivés à la même conclusion : la bataille de la régulation sur Internet est perdue d'avance » dixit Ahmed Ghazali. Le choix de plus en plus multiples d’émissions et de chaînes impose aux opérateurs marocains plus d’audace dans la concrétisation de ce projet.

In the age of podcasts and other internet shows, regulation is a decoy.

“And we've arrived at the same conclusion: the internet regulation battle is already lost,” said Ahmed Ghazali. The choice of more and more shows and channels necessitates greater audacity on the part of Moroccan [producers of media] in the realization of this project.”

Censorship of opposition voices from the Western Sahara also remains an issue, with many blogs from that region being blocked in the rest of Morocco. Freedom Writer quoted a recent MAP (Maghreb Arab Presse) article, while asvdh commented upon a Human Rights Watch article regarding freedom of expression in Western Sahara.

Although an article by AFP suggests that Moroccan bloggers have more freedom than those in other Arab and Muslim countries, the fact that Livejournal is still frequently inaccessible proves that there's still a ways to go. According to MoTIC, who keeps a tab at the top of his site, Google Maps and Google Earth remain blocked as well. A post by Matthew Helmke mentions other blocked sites such as OpenDNS,,, “and on occasion You Tube.”

Translation by Lydia Beyoud


  • Laroussi

    “Censorship of opposition voices from the Western Sahara also remains an issue, with many blogs from that region being blocked in the rest of Morocco.”

    Dear Jillian, Western Sahara is not part of Morocco.

  • Dear Laroussi,

    While I choose not to state my opinion on that subject here, I simply referred to the Western Sahara as a region in this instance as, to the best of my knowledge, both Western Sahara and Morocco proper are governed together and served by the same internet providers. Said internet providers block many Western Sahara opposition blogs within Morocco, however, I do not know whether or not they are blocked in Western Sahara itself.


  • Laroussi

    “many blogs from that region being blocked in the rest of Morocco”

    Dear Jillian,

    To me the above phrasing assumes that Western Sahara is a region in Morocco. This is however not the case, as I pointed out to you.

    It is not a matter of opinion. No country in the world has recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, nor has the UN. Hence, it is not part of Morocco – independent of your opinion.

    “to the best of my knowledge, both Western Sahara and Morocco proper are governed together and served by the same internet providers”

    Now, you seem to believe that Morocco governs Western Sahara. This is not true either. Morocco occupies about two third of the territory and hence control/govern that part. However, one third of Western Sahara is governed by the Saharawi republic RASD.

    About the internet providers you are more accurate. When it comes to fixed internet lines, there are only Moroccan internet providers in Western Sahara. However, you can get internet by satellite as well and those services were never blocked.

    Most people living in Western Sahara however have to rely on the Moroccan internet providers, so most of them suffered from the block of YouTube.

    Finally, not all Moroccan internet providers blocked YouTube. Only Maroc Telecom did. That is the largest internet provider and it is owned by the French business France Telecom.

  • Laarousi,

    I am well aware of the debate and will not be provoked to discuss it here. I have only provided reasoning for my wording. I will mention to the public, however, that Western Sahara’s two major cities are both under Moroccan jurisdiction currently.

    Maroc Telecom is not owned by France Telecom, by the way; it is owned by Vivendi International. And at the time YouTube was blocked last year, some users of other internet providers could not access it either.

  • Dear Laarousi and All,

    Cyber Activities.

    The concept of freedom is very broad. The understanding of freedom can be associated to liberation within diversity.

    While each country has a reason for freedom limitations, it is useful to revisit freedom within the Cyber Activities.

    The case of Morocco internet limitations might have a genuine reason.

    In the Southern Sahara countries, internet is very new.
    In my country Kenya there is unlimited Cyber Activity. freedom.

    The internet is developing rapidly, attracting unlimited multi-media experiences. They include videos games, and unlimited availability of images.

    Surprisingly, there is no age limit to cyber activities entry. Everyone is free to access the internet multi-media activities.

    Have we as educators, realized how many kids have been able to access the unsuitable materials in the internet?

    It is true internet teaching method provides enriched knowledge. But how much freedom is possible for the kids?

    Is there any possibility of providing Safe Internet for children? Most of the internet services are commercially provided, and free entry for all.

    Although the Cyber Cafe owners are aware of the dangers contained within too much internet freedom, they are unable to ensure specific controls.

    Expectation of freedom in internet multi-media services requires legal child protection, and Child Safety in the internet.

    The Google Earth Gallery,the Gadget, and the Google Page, is very encouraging.How about child e-fund raising through competitive creative submissions?

    Thank you very much.



  • Dear Beth,

    Please allow me to compliment, and uplouse your diverse long term experience,that I really envy.

    The developing countries have only a single broad band connection, and the services are concentrated to a few urban centres.

    The further the internet is away from the city, the slower the speed.

    But I believe the success of Haiti in the use of wireless connections serves as a model to many of us in the south.

    Internet governance, rather than internet centralization, is ideal for protective internet services, in a developing world.

    Please Beth, what have been your great achievement motivation tools?

    I love the Global Voices Forum, and look forward to inclusive participation.

    I mean some rural children, very talented, have never seen a computer! But given a chance, they have the best voices. The rural schools can possibly be e-connected to the global village. Is a matter of starting with a few!

    We are working towards that direction within iEARN activities.



  • Mohamed Faress The moorsahraa

    fabricating history !
    everybody knows that Sahara is Moroccan ! history of Morocco proves it .question! how long will Algeria imprison freedom within Algerians”press and citizens who can’t buy a land aka communist system unknown rulers over Algeria left by the Occupation”Algerian gov uses it’s oil money to sponsor terror in Sahara proxy Polisario”and how Ironic that The Kabyles berber Native tribes in Algeria seek independance and were murdered yet no body speaks about it .and The best part is The Tuareg Sahara Occupied by Algeria why have you kept them under the Seen and media coverage.
    Tell me about it ?

  • Laroussi

    “abricating history ! everybody knows that Sahara is Moroccan”.

    Well, I am sorry Mohamed but your are completely wrong. As I said, no country in the world has recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara nor has the UN.

    People believing that Western Sahara is Moroccan have a tendency to get extremely upset when told otherwise. Now this could of course be said about people thinking the other way around as well.

    However, as I pointed out, Morocco’s claims on Western Sahara have not been recognized.

    As for being under someone’s jurisdiction, this does not mean that you are owned by them or belong to them since this jurisdiction may have been forced upon you, as in the case of the cities of El Ayoune, Smara or Dakhla.

    Tifarity, Bir Lahlou, Mijek and Agwanit are not under Moroccan control. They are part of the free Saharawi republic of Western Sahara, the RASD.

    La Güera is not under Moroccan control either, al though Moroccan nationalists tend to say the Morocco goes from Tanger to La Güera.

    Again, only two thirds of Western Sahara is occupied. The rest is free.

    But, even though the major towns in Western Sahara are controlled by Morocco and de facto under Moroccan jurisdiction, this does not turn them into Moroccan.

    Bagdad is under US control. Does that make Iraq American? :D Are the Golan hights Israeli just because it is under Israeli control and jurisdiction?

    Contrary to what is tought in Moroccan schools, and in schools in the occupied territories, the International Court in 1975 ruled against Moroccan and Mauritanian claim on the Western Sahara. The UN thereafter condemned the Moroccan and Mauritanian occupation.

    It is sad that the Moroccan authorities lie to their own citizens, but if you want to learn more there is plent of correct and unbiased information on the internet.

    I stand corrected however about Maroc Telecom. I thought it was owned by France Telecom, but as you correctly pointed out Jillian it is owned by Vivendi. This is a major French telecom player, hence my confusion.

    Finally, about the age limits on “cyber activities” this is up to each country and individual cyber café owners, and the parents of the children to control.

    And, this has nothing to do with the issue of censorship in Morocco or Western Sahara. :)

    Ps. I spell my name Laroussi, not Laarousi.

  • Mohamedfaresthemoorsahara

    who cares about Moroccan gov violations every country have a bad slick gov from once in a while.but we should stick together.not be separated?

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