The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the decision of the Moroccan government to suspend the licence of Satellite Television channel, Al Jazeera's programme Magarbi Daily News. The Moroccan government claimed in a statement today that the suspension was made on technical and legal grounds.
"This action is inexplicable," said Younes M'jahed, Vice President of the IFJ and also President of the syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM). "We need to have a clear explanation about why Al Jazeera is suspended. If there is no convincing reason then this will be seen as a political act of interference in media. That is unacceptable and intolerable for journalism in Morocco and for media throughout the region."
The Magarbi Daily News service broadcasts news on the Maghreb region from Morocco.
The decision comes three months after the Information Ministers of the Arab League issued guidelines on the regulation of broadcast media which some groups, including the IFJ, have warned smacks of direct political interference in media. Although Arab League figures gave an assurance to the IFJ in Kuwait last month that the guidelines are not obligatory for states to follow or adopt journalists fear that this decision against Al Jazeera may be related.
"This is a worrying development which will be discussed by journalists' leaders from throughout the region at an IFJ meeting in Casablanca later this month," said Younes M'jahed. "It is important that we have no political interference. The content of journalism, whether in broadcasting or print, is a matter for journalists alone."
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide