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2009-08-04

Moroccan authorities seize magazines publishing poll on King

By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Casablanca – 04/08/09

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The Moroccan government seized and destroyed 100,000 copies of the French-language magazine TelQuel and its Arabic sister publication Nichane on Saturday (August 1st) for publishing the results of an opinion poll on Moroccans' views on King Mohammed VI.

"This attack is not authorized," Communications Minister Khalid Naciri said in a press statement, adding that the seizure was caused by an attack on that which is sacred. He said it was well-known in advance that "this kind of survey" is not allowed. The monarchy in Morocco is out of bounds for press coverage and is not a suitable subject for debate, even by a survey, the statement read.

Moroccan authorities intercepted copies of the French daily Le Monde, which also published the poll results, as they arrived at the Casablanca airport on Monday, reported AFP. Naciri said he had warned the paper that it would not be sold in Morocco if it published the poll.

Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, the publications director for TelQuel and Nichane, expressed astonishment at the government's move. In a statement to the media on Saturday, he said the publications were seized because of the poll, which was conducted jointly with Le Monde and assessed the first ten years of King Mohammed VI’s reign.

The TelQuel Group, which owns the magazines, condemned the seizure and destruction of the magazines in a statement published on Sunday. AFP reported that the TelQuel Group plans to file a complaint with the Casablanca court this week.

"This double seizure measure is illegal – especially as it was not officially motivated, as stipulated by law, and there is no legal or regulatory provision which allows the authorities to destroy copies of newspapers which have been seized before the courts have made a ruling," the TelQuel Group said in a statement. They added that there is no law in Morocco banning or restricting opinion polls.

Benchemsi said the findings of the survey, called "The people judge their King," showed that 91% of the 1,000 Moroccans polled are satisfied with the monarch's performance. He called the decision to seize the issue unjustified and incomprehensible.

In a statement released Saturday, the Interior Ministry said the seizure went ahead following the publication of a group of articles that infringed on the law. The ministry statement said the steps were taken under Article 77, which outlines Morocco's press code.

Under the code, "The Interior Ministry may order a decree for the administrative seizure of any edition of a newspaper or periodical whose publication is a threat to public order, or which contains the items covered by Article 41," the statement said. According to the ministry, "Any offence by one of the means set out in Article 38, against his Majesty the King, the Royal princes or princesses, is punishable by imprisonment of 3 to 5 years and a fine of 10,000 to 100,000 dirhams."

The team behind the two magazines is now reportedly working hard to create two new editions that do not contain the survey in question, partly because of their commitments to advertisers.

Younes Moujahid, the president of the national press union (SNPM), said the seizure is not legal, since no law prohibits conducting opinion polls in Morocco.

"The union is against administrative seizures. These must be approved by the courts," he said on Sunday.

The SNPM, in a statement released the same day, denounced the administrative seizure, emphasizing that there is no law regulating opinion polls in Morocco. The SNPM called for press freedoms to be respected, and for any future press seizures to be carried out by the courts, as is usually the case, and not administrative departments.

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  1. Anonymous_thumb

    س 2010-3-8

    Very good, thank you!

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    assaad 2009-8-12

    you have right ,the freedom of press isn't like the people think that have unlimited. it have bordes freedom.but any way there is things that have blessing echo.)lebanese person)

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    Aitelfarsi 2009-8-11

    I do not understand at all why they prohibited these two newspapers - Nichane and TelQuel. According to the director of TelQuel, I believe that the government's motivation to destroy more than 100 thousand copies of these two weekly newspapers lies in the fact that the truth scares them. It scares them so much that they end up doing their all so that the people come to hate them more because they do not trust them. To this regard, there must have been something that bothered them in these francophone magazines.

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    A.El Badaoui 2009-8-10

    Dear readers, Regarding the poll that has led to a seizure of two foreign magazines in morocco, I think as a democratic country we should not be afraid of debates of any kinds, there isn’t anyone with the immunity when it comes to critics and discussion in politics, we in morocco we suffer from all kinds oppression from the authorities, why should we keep quite to this injustice, I believe freedom of expression is the only way forward we should be very critical to our government, Especially to those who do not respect the law among our officials, Example in the united kingdom the press has an enormous amount of freedom and believe me they take the criticism very positively, I think we all have to learn from these countries. If the authorities carry on oppressing The people one day the people will turn against the authorities, I think it’s a simple formula.

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    مجهل رجل 2009-8-10

    Drugs, international traffickers in Larache. They say they are fearless, the security is in their hands and the police serves them 60000000 the Moroccan security force of Larache is criminal. The police helps criminals of drugs. They threaten people. 1 Mordi Rissla, 2 Abdesslam Melakeb, Abderahim Chelaila, Haj Kenbaa? Mostafa Kherdla, Azaz the seller of fish, Larbia Bas. 10 tonnes or 17. The security of Larache are addicted to drugs. The highest officer 20000 for each one, a shame and the president 6000000. Help, help, help, save Larache. Armed people threaten people and every day there are murders. There are many criminals, unauthorized cars 100 dhs. Where is law in Morocco? The police is deceiving in Larache. Keep quiet or you will die. They are all armed with machine guns. If you speak out, you will die. The police organizes and helps criminals. Save Larache and people. The police is deceiving and helping them.

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    عليلو 2009-8-8

    I support Jamili in this approach. Yes, there must be red lines which we shouldn't cross.

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    Acharif Moulay Abdellah BOUSKRAOUI 2009-8-7

    “An Open Letter from Acharif Moulay Abdellah to the Journalists” – Sent by Acharif Moulay Abdellah May Praise be to God Alone and Prayers and respects to the Prophet, His family and His companions- Dear Moroccans, in this letter I invite you to be soldiers at the disposal of your country. Every Moroccan plays and important role in the development of his country. As you know, we all have a young and dynamic king who does his best for his country, a king who has put Morocco on track in the right path to democracy, justice and human rights. Dear Moroccans, you are all involved wherever you may be in participating in the development of Morocco. As such, I invite you to encourage tourism and investors to come to Morocco. We are a sage country. We offer administrative services that offer all the facilities that will be at the disposal of our investors. Dear Moroccans, defend Morocco wherever you may be. Be the voice of you country. Be proud of our king, Mohamed VI, guide of the nation, just like you were proud of our holy king, Hassan II, father of the nation. Dear Moroccans, defend our territorial integrity, because, as everyone knows, the Sahara was, is and always will be Morocco. Morocco and Algeria will always remain neighbour and brother countries. I am sure that one day soon all the Algerians will say in a loud voice that the Sahara is Moroccan and will thus defend the Arab Maghreb Union in a world where only unions have strength. –Signed, Acharif Moulay Abdellah Bouskraoui

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    Essam 2009-8-7

    this concerns only the great ppl of morocco, do not concern yourself if you are not moroccan. Moroccan love their king by choice because it's a tradition of 12 centuries that few state out there grasp it. until u distinguish and know the reality of how moroccans feel about their state mind your matters.

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    warda 2009-8-6

    The king is afraid that the people, hungry, ignorant, poor and so on, will begin to think about democracy and about a republic and not about a medieval kingdom. He is afraid for his son, who must become king after his death!!! It is horrible and unfortunate. A kingdom that practices the same laws as the sultans of Baghdad from the 12th century because he is afraid the people are tired of kissing his hand should not be able to exist anymore!!! There are many fears behind this barbaric, undignified act in a country that wants to advance but is back-sliding to a great degree. The businessmen are afraid that the 60% of Morocco that is poor will revolt. Sooner or later this will happen.

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    جميلي م أ 2009-8-6

    There should be red lines which shouldn't be crossed in the name of freedom of expression or anything similar. We in Algeria have a prison sentence for journalists in the old press law which many call for its abolition. In my opinion, it should be developed not canceled. Everything that touches religious symbols, sacred things, the regime and security... I stress security and say everything that touches national security shouldn't be taken for granted because the supreme interest is above all considerations of freedom and its slogans. Salam.

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    maghreb 2009-8-5

    Poor Moroccan- Kiss your king’s hand and maybe he will allow you to write something about him in your newspapers.

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    rania 2009-8-5

    This does not surprise me at all for a kingdom that still lives under medieval laws. Morocco is quite behind in terms of democracy compared to its neighbours in the Maghreb - even if the latter also suffer, they are freer. They want to shut the people up there, blind them and forever have a good image of the king for the Western powers. Yet, the country suffers from poverty, hunger and social problems, and all the while the royal family is there filling its Swiss bank accounts and living like the kings of antiquity. Poor Moroccans! Kingdoms have never been lands of democracy. If the people do not choose their own president every five or six years, then they will find themselves forever the prisoners of a king who reigns until death and who stops those who dare to say what they think.

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    BEN 2009-8-5

    A French body is paying for a poll about what Moroccans think of their king? If a Moroccan body were to do the same in France, would it be able to take the same sort of poll? With 91% being satisfied with President Sarkozy? So, they are looking to take the French for idiots and - why not? - the Moroccans too. The only people who are surprised are the polled themselves. As for the rest of the population, the King knows them, and between him and his people, he does not need foreign interpretation. A real poll would say that he does not agree at all with this poll, which has nothing to do with the freedom of the press and is just there to produce mediatised communication known to not have unanimity where they are from. Moroccans will never accept this sort of mediation between them and their sovereign. This would deny the political and social reality of the country. And what if we ask what they are planning now? ...Lobbies, maybe? ...Photographs of the King on glossy paper? The people of press and their scandals are on the same page? The market remains to be opened, but we worry about its opening in force, its breaking in! Evidently, laws punish and so do morals.

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    Anonymous 2009-8-4

    Honestly, this is return to the barbarian practices of the Middle Ages and the time where books were burnt in public places and sometimes their authors with them. Now that the Great Inquisitor, His Ever-So-Muslim Majesty Mohamed VI, the Great, the Leader of the Believers and Disbelievers, has taken a step backwards in order to advance Moroccan-style democracy, the path is open to publicly decapitate and burn journalists to the disliking of this gentleman, the so holy descendent of the Prophet. Oh, Galileo! How the Church burnt your work 400 years ago! At least it had more of an excuse in the age of obscurantism than in the age of television and Internet. And the Church regrets it now. Will the director of TelQuel be rehabilitated in 400 years too? Taking a look at the direction the Arab world is headed, I strongly doubt it.

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    Stephan 2009-8-4

    What a backward image this gives! Bravo democracy!

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