Morocco: Bloggers React to the Banning of Magazines

Last week, the Moroccan blogosphere was up in arms over the government's decision to seize two popular magazines – French TelQuel and its Arabic sister publication Nichane – for publishing a poll in which ordinary Moroccans were asked to give their assessment of the monarch, King Mohammed VI, despite results which stated 91% of Moroccans approve of his first ten years of rule.

A campaign, entitled “Je Suis Un 9%” (“I am a 9%”) was quickly created to represent those who were angered by the decision to censor the results.  For the past week, the Twittoma (Moroccan Twitter community) has been using the hashtag #9pcMaroc to discuss the incident (highlighted in this piece in UAE's The National), while the blogosphere continues to ruminate on it.  One new development, the banning of French paper Le Monde (which also publicized the results) has some bloggers fuming.  Rachid Jankari writes:

Je pense que cette interdiction et son argumentaire est un vrai retour en arrière. Et pour cause, c'est une nouvelle consécration de la “sacralité” du Roi. En invoquant cet argument, archaïque, je pense que l'avenir du débat sur le présent et l'avenir du pays est encore une fois hypothéqué.

I think this ban and the argument for it is a real step backwards. And because it is a new recognition of the “sacredness” of the King. By invoking this archaic argument, I think the future of the debate on the present and the future of the country is once again compromised.

At ‘Aqoul, The Lounsbury writes:

this is truly moronic. The poll is in fact rather positive for the Monarchy, and banning its publication really reeks of the worst idiocy possible. However, it does reflect the old-school Makhzen mentality that remains deeply entrenched in the government. While the King (M6) has his faults, gross and obvious stupidity has never seemed to be one of them. (Subtler forms, perhaps arguable, although I remain favourable disposed to-wards him, I mean look at his confrères…) However, the bootlicker Naciri went for broke. So yes, all the world should know that the Makhzen bootlickers could not stand the idea of the Moroccan population knowing that an international poll found “only” 91% approval relative to M6's first decade. More on the poll later as well.

Old stupidities die hard.

Moroccan blogger Larbi, recognizing the power of the Internet, published the poll results on his blog, noting the near-impossibility of keeping them out of public view:

Finalement c’est l’AFP qui a eu la primeur de publier le Sondage Interdit, en détail avec tous les chiffres. Dépêche qui sera reproduite par tous les médias du monde. Maintenant à moins d’interdire tous les médias du monde les censeurs sont très mal barrés.

Finally, it is the AFP which was the first to publish the prohibited survey in detail with all the figures. The dispatch is to be reproduced by media all around the world. Now, unless you ban all the world's media, the censors are in trouble.

Blogger Ibn Kafka also republished the results, as well as the Le Monde article, encouraging other Moroccan bloggers to do the same. Commenter Kaouthar Lbiati responded:

La position des autorités marocaines (ministère de la communication) est décevante encore une fois. Bien sûr que le peuple marocain, comme tous les peuples d’ailleurs, a le droit d’évaluer sa monarchie à laquelle il est lié par le pacte d’Al Beiâ depuis plusieurs siècles maintenant. Le peuple marocain veut désormais s’exprimer, s’expliquer, être écouté et prendre en main sa destinée. Arrêter l’oppression enfin!

The position of the Moroccan authorities (Ministry of Communications) is once again disappointing. Of course the Moroccan people, like all people, moreover, have the right to evaluate their monarchy to which they have been bound by allegiance for several centuries now. The Moroccan people want to speak, explain, be heard and take control of their destinies. Finally, stop the oppression!

To sum up, the Moroccan blogger behind Réflexions et autres idées states:

Il faut voir plus loin que son nez. Que sera le Maroc dans 5, 10, 20 ou 50 ans ? C'est à quoi le gouvernement et le pouvoir doivent travailler et non à proclamer des fatwas contre des journaux et des livres…

We must look beyond our noses. Where will Morocco be in 5, 10, 20, or 50 years? This is what the government and people in power must work on this rather than issuing Fatwas (religious edicts) on newspapers and books…


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