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Morocco: “I'm a 9 Per Cent!”

The Moroccan government's decision to block from circulation the August issues of two prominent magazines, Telquel and Nichane, seems to have set the Moroccan blogosphere ablaze. Both publications were about to disclose the result of a poll conducted in collaboration with the French daily Le Monde, in which ordinary Moroccans were asked to give their assessment of 10 years of their monarch's rule. The poll, intended to be the first public approval survey on record of a Moroccan king by his own subjects, has revealed, according to Ahmed Reda Benchemsi [Fr], the director of both publications, “that 91 percent of Moroccans who were interviewed say that the performance of the reign of King Mohammed VI is positive or very positive.” (Source: AFP). Yet, the Moroccan authorities appear keen to clamp down on any form of disclosure of the poll's results as lucidly expressed by the government's spokesman Khalid Naciri, who declared that “[t]he monarchy in Morocco cannot be the object of debate even through a poll.”

Moroccan microbloggers were quick to react to the move, mostly disapproving their government's action.

9pctwittergroup

9pcmaroc2

- annouss: Let's launch the 9% movement… Change your profile picture. Join the 9 per-cents.

Now, a growing movement of online protesters seems to be gathering steam, symbolically prompted by the “I'm a 9%” logo created by Anas Alaoui in reference to the “minority” of Moroccans who, according to the banned poll, disapproved or negatively judged the first decade in power of Mohammed VI. A hashtag page on Twitter called #9pcMaroc was swiftly created with microbloggers adopting the “I'm a 9%” epithet in a clear sign of protest against the magazines being taken off the stands. Bloggers are reportedly also working on setting up a Facebook group hoping to expand the movement.

I Am a 9%

I Am a 9%

Mehdi, blogging on Satwiker links to a video of an interview with the magazines’ director Benchemsi, aired on French news TV channel France 24, in which the journalist expresses [Ar] in disbelief his disapproval of the ban explaining that the publications didn't break the law and didn't cross the red lines.

Fatima (La Marocaine) blogging on Agora deplores [Fr] the censorship. She writes:

A l’ère des nouvelles technologies, il faudra que nos dignitaires se rendent à l’évidence que ce genre d’action revient à chercher à cacher le soleil par la paume de la main. Sans oublier que l’info a déjà fait le tour du monde. Comme on dit chez nous » kaye fye9o l’7m9 bederribe l’7jerre» !!! Ce qui aurait pu passer pour une info banale devient une affaire.

In an era of new technologies our dignitaries must understand that such actions are tantamount to trying to hide the sun with the palm of the hand. Not to mention that the news has already spread around the world […] What could have predictably been considered a trivial matter, has now become an affair.

Ibn Kafka [Fr] concludes:

Pour résumer: il existe au Maroc une autorité constitutionnelle ayant une suprématie tant sur l’exécutif qu’indirectement sur le législatif et le judiciaire, dont les actes juridiques ne peuvent en aucun [cas] être attaqués devant les tribunaux marocains, et qui assure la commanderie des croyants (musulmans), et dont le bilan ne peut faire l’objet d’une appréciation publique.

To summarize: there is a constitutional authority in Morocco with supremacy over both the executive, -indirectly- the legislative and the judiciary, whose acts, in legal terms, can never be attacked before a Moroccan court, which ensures the role of commander of the believers (Muslims that is) and whose record may not be assessed by the public.

It is believed that Le Monde will be publishing the poll next Tuesday. But the Moroccan authorities have already made it clear: “If Le Monde publishes this poll, it will not be able to be sold in Morocco. It's a question of consistency,” said the government spokesman.

Both Nichane and Telquel were last seized back in 2007 when editorials in Arabic and French were deemed by the authorities “libelous against the sacred person of the king.” Director Benchemsi was the author of the editorials and is still prosecuted to this day.

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