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Morocco calls al-Jazeera shutdown 'final and irrevocable'

By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 04/11/10

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Morocco on Friday (October 29th) suspended all broadcast operations of Qatari satellite TV channel al-Jazeera and revoked accreditation for the pan-Arab news network staff, claiming that "irresponsible" coverage had seriously "damaged the image of Morocco" and its "territorial integrity".

Al-Jazeera slammed the decision, saying that its coverage of Moroccan affairs has always been professional, balanced and accurate.

Al-Jazeera also confirmed that "the recent decision by the Moroccan authorities would not change the network's editorial guidelines," and that the channel would "continue its coverage of the Moroccan affairs to serve the interests of viewers in line with journalistic values".

The network's Rabat bureau chief, Abdelkader Kharroubi, said he would "try to make the authorities reverse their decision".

"We won't leave Morocco; rather, we will do our best to resume our work," he said.

The reasons cited by the government for the shutdown "are completely untrue, especially as the channel's editorial guidelines have not changed in years," Kharroubi said. "There is no line hostile to Morocco or that causes damages to the country's supreme interests."

But Communication Minister Khalid Naciri said in a statement to Magharebia that the "file of al-Jazeera has been closed once and for all"

"The ban of the channel's office and withdrawal of accreditations from its correspondents is final and irrevocable, and can't be reversed in any way," Naciri said.

Regarding the possibility of negotiating with al-Jazeera instead of resorting to such a decision, Naciri said that "the dialogues have extended for years, but have been in vain".

"The Moroccan public opinion unanimously agrees on praising the position of the government in its relation with al-Jazeera. That decision is final, and al-Jazeera won't work in Morocco again unless it apologizes to Moroccans in public," the minister said.

This is not the first time that the news network has been banned in Morocco. The ministry suspended al-Jazeera in 2008 for "technical" reasons.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticised the latest closure:"There is no reason whatsoever that justifies such a sanction against a foreign media outlet, which came in total violation of the legal rules, especially as the freedom of opinion is guaranteed under the Kingdom's constitution."

"This is an incorrect decision and is contrary to the trend of developing the media field," said Mohamed Aouni, the head of the Organisation for Media Freedom and Expression.

"It's not acceptable to cite some negative points on the part of al-Jazeera channel as a pretext to take measures affecting the freedom of media and viewers' right to evaluate the work of media," Aouni noted.

The decision has sparked mixed reactions among Moroccan viewers.

"The channel is tarnishing the image of Morocco because it only depicts the negative aspects in the country," said Ibrahim. "It's also unfair in its work, and the proof is that it didn't report on the file of Ould Sidi Mouloud who defected from the Polisario."

"The closure of al-Jazeera office is a great loss and a strong blow to democracy, but the loser here is Morocco rather than al-Jazeera," al-Jirari said.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2010-11-24

    To Mohamed Algerie- Firstly, forgive me for assuming you were anti-Semitic. Looking at many of the comments here, you should be able to see how the word “Jew” is often unfortunately used to replace the word “bad”. It is clear that you are not wholly racist. While I do not approve of the fact that you group Jews together as a homogenous whole (I am referring to your other statement about Jews from Central Europe), it is nice to know that you do distinguish between policy in Israel and Jews. Think about using the words “some people” instead of referring to a race. Secondly, I certainly do not support Israeli policy and I do not consider the criticism of Israeli politics to be racism. Moreover, given that Lieberman is authorising the dislocation of Palestinians and that he himself tends to treat Palestinians as a homogenous whole, which he believes are the incarnation of evil, I believe that calling Lieberman a racist would be accurate criticism. Thirdly, I believe that you have accurately pointed out the flaw in this scandal, and that is the nature of North Africa and Middle Eastern leaders. Israeli policy towards Palestine is lamentable, but I do not think we can say that al-Jazeera is a “weapon of mass destruction” because while our leaders fail to exploit al-Jazeera as a form of media, Israel’s leaders succeed in exploiting it. Indeed, the “weapon of mass destruction” is our own leaders’ approach to dialogue and communication with the people. For this reason, I believe blaming al-Jazeera is wrong: the blame belongs to our leaders’ lack of respect for the press as an institution.


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    mohamed algerie 2010-11-17

    To Essid- Your response make me think of certain Parisian circles, led by Zemmour, Henry Levy and others. Whenever the subject is Israel and its policies, they label you an anti-Semite. Meanwhile they deliver you crocodile tears about the misfortunes of Darfour and the Iranian opposition. But, they are strangely silent about the Palestinians’ human misfortunes and other problems. A media outlet as heavy as al-Jazeera is not a simple thing like you pretend; it is a true weapon of mass destruction. Al-Jazeera deals with a lot of problems in the Middle East, and the Israeli leaders have seized this opportunity to address the Arab masses and thwart their anger. In no case did I talk about the Jewish people, whom I respect. Israel’s policy toward the Middle East will one day kill the Israeli state. There is the history of the Nazis, but that was yesterday. If all the Europeans had the courage to tell Israel to stop, the rightist government would have given more than one thought before counting on its country’s power. I would also like to highlight Israeli intelligence compared to that of our leaders. While Israel takes advantage of al-Jazeera’s microphones, our kings and presidents are bent on chasing it away. Would it not have been advantageous to address the Arab masses through this channel? The culture of communication is absent in our habits and customs. I blame our leaders and take my hat off to Israel. As for anti-Semitism, only those who do not want to see the reality of things see it everywhere. And, if I say that Lieberman is a racist who is prone to hunt down the Palestinians and proceed with an ethnic cleansing, would you call me a racist?


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    أبو حسام 2010-11-15

    Al Jazeera news channel is in reality a channel to inform the Arab and world public opinion. But it is blamed for its sensitivity towards our territorial unity. I don’t know why. Does it have interest in this or what? Anyway, this channel should know we won’t relinquish one inch of our land whether you like it or not. The caravan passes by and dogs bark.


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    Essid 2010-11-14

    To Mohamed Algerie- It is amazing to me that even with such a simple topic as this, you can manage to bring anti-Semitism into the picture. Firstly, if the United States launched missiles at al-Jazeera, this does not make the American military’s actions acceptable or even justify the closure of the news agency. The United States also unilaterally started a war against Iraq, but most people would not try to say that such actions are justifiable. The US, like Morocco and like all other countries has successes and failures. Secondly, that al-Jazeera spoke to Israeli officials after the violence in Gaza does not mean that Israel controls al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera is simply showing the reality for what it is: complex. While I disagree with Israel’s actions, the people involved in these actions are human beings and are thus the product of a complex environment, a complex understanding of that environment and a complex array of motivations that arise from that understanding. By showing that all the actors involved in Gaza are human, not demons, al-Jazeera is helping to calm the fire. I do not like Israel’s policies, but I do understand that the Israelis, like all Muslims and like all people in the world, are doing what they think is right. Understanding this is very important, because once we realise everyone is human, we can then work on peacefully changing perspectives rather than physically and violently trying to control them. And, this applies to al-Jazeera in Morocco. Al-Jazeera was closed because it offered peaceful criticism of the Moroccan government. So, what do we have now?


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    BEN 2010-11-12

    Al-Jazeera is a foreign commercial channel. Morocco may terminate its broadcast at any time on national soil, especially if it does not respect the terms of its contract. In business, this is quite common. There is nothing to get riled up about. We should simple reproach the minister for having taken so much time after this channel hijacked the majority after the last parliamentary election for lack of a channel with similar thoughts in the Maghreb. Given the number of illiterate people who watch it, the Islamists want to use the same weapons coming from abroad: the destruction of democracy via the freedom of the press. Well done, Mr Minister! Let us not have a repeat of this. The Moroccan leaders are beginning to understand the stakes of information in the era of globalisation and their ability to destabilise the country (for example, in Laâyoune).


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    ABDELKARIM 2010-11-11

    Al-Jazeera is a propaganda channel close to the Algerian government and Polisario. It wants to harm Morocco and the integrity of the Kingdom with their reporting in order to have the Algerians and Polisario appear right. It only shows the negative aspects of Morocco. I am 100% for the suppressing of al-Jazeera in Morocco.


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    HAMMOU 2010-11-9

    You have no integrity. You are journalist for hire for whoever pays you the most. You deserve to be seated before a UN court for the collaboration and propagation of false news.


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    mohamed algerie 2010-11-8

    Al-Jazeera does not get good press in the countries of the Maghreb. It is undesirable in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Your freedom has given our leaders a big allergic reaction. The great democracy that is the United States did not hesitate to squarely launch missiles at al-Jazeera’s team in Baghdad during the Gulf War, turning the channel’s journalists into victims. One sole country knows how to take advantage of it: Israel. After the Gaza carnage, the civilian and military spokesman took great heartfelt pleasure in “explaining” the reasons for their carnage. They succeeded to a certain degree. What our leaders lack is communication, the Achilles heel of the Arab countries. They are not used to communication with their peoples. They interpret this freedom as an attack. The USA allowed itself to target the al-Jazeera office, which gives you an idea of “respect” that this country has for the Arab nation. They put everyone in the same sack. Will al-Jazeera be the initiator of democratisation in the Arab world or will it align itself with the Arab dictators’ mode of governance?


  9. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2010-11-6

    Since I am a Moroccan and since I am a part of the public opinion and since I disagree with the banning of this channel in Morocco, I can tell you that Minister Khalid Naciri is lying when he says, “The Moroccan public opinion unanimously agrees on praising the position of the Moroccan government in its relation with al-Jazeera.” I wonder if the thought ever crossed his mind to do a poll on who agrees and who does not agree with this prohibition. Wielding an iron fist over the media is a sign of any tyranny, regardless of the type and quality of the media. If you take a look at countries that have better track records for being democratic, you will notice that when the officials do not like something that one media outlet reports, the officials find another media outlet to refute the statement. And, if the original reports were slanderous or libellous, the officials always have recourse to the courts, which will offer a fair trial to both the defendant and the plaintiff. This is not the case in countries where political power is consolidated in the hand of the elites. When these elites fear something that the media says, rather than discuss it openly with the public, they try to hide it and cover it up with their own lies. Perhaps the elites think the public is too stupid to handle a dialogue or perhaps the elites themselves are too stupid for all their years in unchecked power that they do not even consider the idea of dialogue – whatever the case, it is the Moroccan people who suffer from the violation of the freedom of the press. When the government is able to supress the media, we lose access to information and thus our power.


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    أوباها حسين 2010-11-6

    It would have been more efficient to expel Al Jazeera channel from Morocco during the period of the late El Basri. He knew the secret of its hatred as a result of a statement which couldn’t be accepted by the ruler. Al Jazeera is the most absurd channel. It has gained the ordinary people with the Arabic language. Without this language which has chained us to watch the bad channels on Nile 7 full of songs, sex films, dollar preachers, we would have moved to channels which will make us move forward. The channel is expert in provocation, discriminatory meetings, hate methods in confrontations. First of all, its programme “Al Itijah Al Mouakiss” doesn’t host two opposing Qataris. Secondly, “Chahid Ala Asr” will not host someone from Hamas, Hizboullah, Qatar, Iran and Israel which authorize it to enter its occupied territories. Thirdly, it adopts Al Qaeda by posting its recordings. Fourthly, it presents too much analysis of the USA. Fifthly, the market of its news is from the Third World. Sixthly, in tennis, Qatar invited a Danish player who represents Denmark and raised its flag although it has offended the messenger, peace and prayer of God be upon him. Seventhly, Qatar markets its channel while Arab oil buys football teams in the west, hotels and funds gambling horses. Eighthly, it presents Haikal Al Adma without control although he offends everyone and distorts history. Ninthly, it doesn’t move to Algeria to uncover abuses and repressions against Amazigh, Islamists, Touaregs and others who hate generals. Tenthly, it doesn’t make a report to uncover the truth about the killer of Boudiaf, may God rest his soul. Finally, it doesn’t cover events in the prisons of Syria, Hizboullah, Hamas, Iran, Libya, Chavez and sufferings of their people. There are many other examples.


  11. Anonymous thumb

    Chakira 2010-11-5

    My personal opinion of al-Jazeera is that it effectively only tarnished the image of the Arab countries from an outsider’s perspective. The channel broadcasts various facts without any try logic behind its different opinions. Independent press, all the same, relates beneficial, clear achievements, citing bad things without provocation and with respect to the people’s feelings. I live near some of Morocco’s infrastructural achievements and I can affirm that there are some with goodwill and that there a people who work and that the worksite is open to everyone. Unfortunately, nothing about any of this is presented on this fabulous channel. Certainly, there is a long road to hoe to develop our country, which has limited means, but listening to al-Jazeer, you get the impression that it is only looking to cause a stir in every home. Herein, the positive aspect of the press is thwarted. Personally, I stopped watching this channel long ago. I had hoped to hear that more foreign, Arab channels would show examples of our good achievement, inciting all Arabs to do better so that each of us do our best for our country. Every one of us in this little world raises our children well, cultivates our Arab and Muslim values and acts so as to make progress toward the future without having fear of criticism or of the past. Only citing the bad aspects from a single point of view attacks, as I see it, all the Moroccans. This is rather depressing. Evidently, this channel is not welcome her. In any case, we do not watch it. Al-Jazeera has no credibility.


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    Anonymous 2010-11-5

    Ibrahim shares that idea that a dictatorial regime has made up about the media. He hates al-Jazeera “because it only depicts the negative aspects in the country.” The word “negative” means nothing because it is subjective. What is negative for one person can be seen as positive for another. These qualification has no sense. Ibrahim wants to force al-Jazeera to take on subjects of his choosing. Dozens of millions of television viewers watch al-Jazeera and have their own preferences. Can al-Jazeera satisfy everyone? Moreover, being that Ibrahim and his government do not subsidise this channel, it has a right to its own editorial police and does not have to conform to the policies of Morocco’s liberticidal policies. I am not taking up the defence for al-Jazeera at all, but I would like to make not of the distorted conception of the freedom of the press. Dictatorships have always manipulated the media to have their views heard and apologise for the criminals and imbeciles in power. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Bokassa, Duvalier, Mobutu and others – not to mention all the deaths they causes so as to offend the sensibility of the living – adopted this policy, which ultimately provide disastrous for their respective countries. We should look to democratic countries like the United States, Britain, France and Italy to see what the media broadcasts about their leaders. A mature, responsible press in a democratic country has as its task the reporting of errors and that which sticks out as unordinary. “An interesting headline is not that which reads ‘A Dog bit a Man,’ but ‘A Man but a Dog.’” If the press misleads the public, it goes to the opposition party to put forth the counter argument. A dictator who despises his people imagines that the public is too stupid to recognise this.


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    Moroccan Patriot 2010-11-4

    Khalid Naciri yet again leaves no doubt as to his utter ignorance by opening his mouth. Naciri has absolutely no right to talk about tarnishing the image of Morocco. As communications minister, he broke the law and interfered with the legal detention of his son in front of the Parliament building in Rabat. His son was in the process of being arrested for stabbing and macing a doctor after a traffic altercation. Khalid Naciri, as the Communications minister brings shame to all Moroccans. Naciri is nothing but a bold faced liar and incompetent minister. Of course he would not want a real News organization in Morocco. I agree with Al Jazeera, Morocco is the big loser in this fiasco.


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