The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the decision to jail the editor of a Moroccan satirical newspaper for four years as a "massive attack on press freedom" in one of the Arab world's most open societies.
The charges against Ali Lmrabet, editor of the weekly newspaper Demain were put in a one-day trial last week when he was accused of insulting King Mohammed. He was convicted and jailed today in an action that journalists regard as a major blow to the liberalization of the press in Morocco that has taken place over recent years.
"This sentence is disproportionate and draconian," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. "It reveals how fragile the process of building press freedom has become. This editor has done no more than produce the sort of hard-hitting satire that is commonplace in the democratic world."
The IFJ is calling for the sentence to be immediately reviewed and for Mr. Lmrabet to be set free. "This is a major setback that we hope will be overturned quickly said Mr. White.
Leaders of the IFJ and the Federation's European section will be meeting over the next two weeks in Prague and Brussels. During these meetings there will be calls for a worldwide campaign to highlight the Lmrabet case. "This sentence must not be allowed to stand," says the IFJ. " The independent press and independent journalists must be free to work. That is the supreme test of the quality of Moroccan democracy."