International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins today its affiliate the
Syndicat national de la presse marocaine (SNPM) in condemning the Moroccan
government's campaign to muzzle critical journalists.
Last week, the campaign
took a turn for the worse when the offices of the daily Akhbar al Youm,
were cordoned off by the police and staff and management prevented from
entering their offices in Casablanca.
Editor Tawfiq Bouachrine and cartoonist Khaled
Kadar were interrogated for 48 hours following the publication of a cartoon
depicting the wedding of a member of the royal family, prince Moulay Ismail.
SNPM, an IFJ affiliate, organised
a demonstration last Friday to break the cordon and held a rally outside the
newspaper. Its President, Younes M'Jahed, said
"The siege of Akhbar al-Youm is a flagrant violation of the current
Press Law and smacks of authoritarianism. The
Ministry of the Interior has no legal authority to order such a closure."
campaign by the authorities has been steadily escalating. Several journalists
have been under investigation by the judicial police in Rabat following the publication of articles
quoting medical sources on the health of the court. Ali Anouzla, editor of the
daily al Jareeda al Oula, and journalist Bochra Daou were charged for
"intentionally publishing false information" as well as the editor of the
weekly Al Michaal Driss Chahtan and journalists Mostafa Hiran and Rashid
Al-Jarida al-Oula, Al Ahdath al Maghribia and Al
already been taken to a Casablanca court by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi after they published articles which criticised him in 2008 and early
2009 and ordered to pay a fine
of 100,000 dirhams (8779 EUR) and damages of 1 million dirhams (87791 EUR).
is an unprecedented onslaught by the Moroccan authorities seeking to silence
independent journalists." said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "Their action have
in the forefront of the enemies of press freedom that harass, torment and
prosecute journalists. The use of the courts and the excessive fines have one
aim only, to gag journalists."
For more information
contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists
in 123 countries worldwide