Prisoners’ Press

Naoufel offers a personal reading of the situation of press freedom in his native Morocco and explains how journalists have ended up with very little space to operate.


Moroccan blogger, storyteller and writer. 6 comments

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

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…

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Translated by Hisham Khribchi from صحافة السجناء

Posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

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6 comments on “Prisoners’ Press”

  1. Change is slow. Change requires FAITH in principles and, above all, in people. Our country is moving towards the future at a snail’s speed. Your little daughter might one day write the same sort of article. She is likely to complain about the unbearable concentration of power in the hands of Hassan III or Mohammed VII!

    On the other hand things cannot change overnight. Most of us have to be ready to set it in motion and then use it smartly, not abuse it rigth from the beginning. Otherwise we could lose it even faster than it takes to write a leader article in a quality paper.

    There is no recipe for change. And as there is no Mandela in Morocco, some of us will have to take risks, small, progressive, calculated risks that could not only knock on the the Palace’s door but compel its owner to leave his Ivory Tower and join the 21st century. And a new generation of Moroccans hungry for freedom and thirsty for the circulation of ideas, views and opinions.

    We are fed up with paternalistic attitudes towards millions of people whose dream is to live decently in a country where all citizens should have their say in the future of their children … with no prison strings attached.

  2. @Ahmed: “And as there is no Mandela in Morocco”

    That’s a stupid thing to say. Mandela didn’t single-handedly defeated the Apartheid. Also, the Alaouis didn’t do to the Moroccans nearly as much as the Dutch have done to the blacks. It is true that they consider themselves genetically superior, but that’s where the analogy ends.

  3. @ Fly

    Thank for the word ‘stupid’. I didn’t mean Mandela as a man, as a person. But as a symbol. As a way of thinking and trying to move ahead to the next step and put Apartheid behind. What’s more, today’s Morocco needs a powerful source of inspiration to make it to overcome a host of obstacles and traps while avoiding any kind of bloodshed. That’s what Mandela stands for as far as I’m concerned and not some sort of Superman who toppled Apartheid all by himself!

  4. @ahmed:

    I stand by my assertion. As you can see, we’re losing sight of the main point and getting side tracked because you wrote that there was no Mandela in Morocco. So, let’s end it here.

  5. the way is that we chose not that we wait … i think we keep wait long time !!
    so know when u say morroco wait that mean u r wait too
    few word can’t change long years
    u can see that and u can understood it but u keep try again and again.


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