Translated by Hisham Khribchi from صحافة السجناء
Years before I was born, Morocco was on its way to progress, and after I was born the country was still in the same way. I grew up and studied and got married and had a daughter but still Morocco is on the same road, or rather is still waiting for the car to take it to the destination. The problem is that the way for this much needed progress doesn’t accommodate for the failed members [of society]. It only admits those who adopted freedom as a substitute for pistols and tyranny.
The successful Moroccan experiment–so to speak–was to allow for an independent press. Out of the dark some night came one of them who shouted: “We will allow you freedom of the press!” and then disappeared. They searched for him a long time, then they forgot about the whole matter when everybody–after the success of the idea, of course–claimed he or she was the initiator. Only then came out of the tunnel called Morocco, numerous investigations that have toured the world: How much does the king earn? How many possessions does he own? And about the princes, the palace, the Makhzen and so on and so forth; many subjects that young Moroccans could barely imagine their grandchildren one day might read [freely] without someone knocking on their door at the end of the night. The press was bold in comparison with that of Tunisia, Burkina Faso, and Gabon, but it was less than average in comparison with countries that have long surpassed Morocco while in its never ending march towards progress. This perhaps happened because the press had never come close enough, except in a few cases, to what the official media terms the fundamentals of the nation. The press instead has been carving in the margins [of Moroccan politics], dealing primarily with Prime Ministers and successive governments, although every child in the Sherifian kingdom will tell you that neither parliament nor ministers, not even the government can adopt any decision unless they were given the “kingly blessing” or orders descending from “higher circles.”
In Morocco, the red lines, the constants and the sanctities are well established, and for you to practice journalism you must first acknowledge and then abide by the rules based on the Press Code and the sanctions that it entails. And in case you were free enough to discover that this code was approved during the “glorious” Years of Lead, when through dubious referendums, ballot boxes were stuffed, you have to choose between three options: the first leads to jail, the second consists in waiting for the royal blessing and the third consists is begging for the king’s pardon.
Then, let’s keep waiting for progress to come…