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Al Jazeera shut out of Morocco 2, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Al-Jazeera, North Africa.
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Morocco is the latest (of many) countries to ban Al Jazeera from operating within its borders. The Ministry of Communication withdrew Al Jazeera’s accreditation for not undertaking “serious and responsible journalism” and following “numerous failures in  (following) the rules”.

The Communications Minister insisted that Al Jazeera systematically refused to be objective and sought to tarnish Morocco’s image.

These claims are strenuously denied by Al Jazeera.

The dispute centers around Al Jazeera’s coverage of Islamists in Morocco and their Western Saharan issues. Since the Casablanca bombing in 2003 killing over 40 people, AFP reports that over 2000 people have been arrested. The long-running saga of Western Sahara and the Polisario Front is a sore topic for the Kingdom and is a firm ‘red line’ over which reporting is all but banned.

Indeed, Al Jazeera was banned in 2000 and the Moroccan Ambassador briefly withdrawn from Doha over coverage of the issue. Relations were mended and in 2004 Qatar even brokered a hostage exchange between the Polisario Front and Morocco for the return of captured Moroccan troops. Releations worsened again in 2008 when Al Jazeera was banned from covering the Maghreb countries from Rabat and Al Jazeera’s Morocco bureau chief was convicted of “disseminating false information” regarding security forces clashes in Sidi Ifni.

Morocco’s banning of Al Jazeera is widely seen as a backward-step for the country which was, at one stage, slowly liberalizing its grip on social and political spaces. Now it joins its neighbors Algeria and Tunisia as countries with closed Al Jazeera offices; not necessarily a group of countries that Morocco wants to join.


1. xoussef - 2, November 2010

I know I should be commiserating with Aljazeera, on account of freedom of press and all, but I’m not. This is only subjective, but I always felt Morocco enjoyed a special treatment from Aljazeera, maybe because they had more latitude to report than in other countries, but ultimately it felt like we were repeatedly singled with negative reports. And I’m not talking of islamists and polisario, I mean crimes, prostitution, drugs, scandals, extreme poverty, weird cases etc.. AND generally superficial, incomplete or one-sided reports too

However, the communication Minister should be urgently called to other duties, preferably far away from any contact with the media.

PS: Sidi Ifni, two words.

thegulfblog.com - 2, November 2010

That’s very interesting.

Do you think that because Al J are not present in neighboring countries that Morocco ‘became’ North African news? Or do you think that someone had some kind of personal Moroccan-related beef? (People are just people after all – prejudices and all…) Or that this is just the sensationalist way that Al J ‘do’ news – all lurid, sensationalist stories? From what I can gather, they tend to treat many countries rather…erm…crudely.

Thanks for your thoughts.

2. xoussef - 2, November 2010

Mainly the official stance was to let them report whatever they want, good or bad, as long as they stay away from a few broad shiny red lines, they got the same treatment French and other European journalists get. That’s far more freedom than Eljazeera could hope for in many places. The reporting in itself doesn’t bother me, although more professionalism would be welcome, but the disproportionate number of stories, compared to the silence elsewhere, is frustrating and yes damaging to the image of the country, and unlike Algeria for example, that’s an important asset for Maroc Inc.
It’s not rational, I know, but this how it feels.

3. Paul - 2, November 2010

I’m assuming you’re talking about Al Jazeera arabic and not Al Jazeera English. Because I find Al Jazeera English a very reliable and professional news channel alongside BBC World. My only quibble is that it seems biased in Pakistan’s favour in India/Pakistan stories, although that might just be because I’m Indian.

thegulfblog.com - 2, November 2010

That s a good point. I should make that clearer.

4. Zin - 2, November 2010

Les journalistes d’Al jazeera ne sont pas plus marocains que les marocains;
En exploitant les richesses culturelles, naturelles, les différents sujets concernant la femme, l’enfant, l’hospitalité et…la chaine qui est une entreprise produit sans payer mais vende
Mais, le Maroc se vend par des intermédiaux qui au lieu de mettre en valeur son image l’amoindrir.

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