Moroccan Journalists to Stage Strike Protesting Suppressed Press Freedom
Moroccan journalists will stage a 1-hour strike Tuesday to express solidarity with colleagues Mustapha Alaoui and Khalid Mechbal and protest against the efforts taken against the freedom of the press, ArabicNews.com reported Monday.
The journalists will wear armbands and will rally in front of their Union's headquarters in downtown Rabat, ArabicNews.com quoted a statement issued by the Moroccan Press Union (SNPM) Sunday.
Mustapha Alaoui, director of Al-Ousboue Weekly, was sentenced to a three-month jail term and heavy fines and compensation for publishing blasphemous stories against foreign affairs and cooperation minister, Mohamed Benaissa.
He was also ordered to stop working as a journalist for one year.
Khalid Mechbal was also sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term and compensations for the same grounds.
The SNPM, which termed the sanctions as "serious," told ArabicNews.com that it could not keep silent on such practices.
These practices put into jeopardy all the speech freedom gains achieved by the Moroccan people, the Union said.
Meanwhile, Minister in charge of relations with the Parliament, Mohamed Bouzoubaa, was quoted as saying Sunday that the government will carry on efforts to enable the press to fulfill its mission far from any deviation and spare it judiciary action.
However, despite assurances that censorship is a thing of the past and despite moves by King Mohammed VI toward changes since succeeding his late father Hassan II, AP said that the number of newspaper seizures and bans has increased since the beginning of the year.
On April 15th, Morocco banned the sale of a weekly newspaper containing an interview with the head of the Polisario Front, a guerrilla movement that fought Morocco for independence in the Western Sahara.
According to AP, The ministry of communications said then that the ban was due to the treatment of Morocco's territorial integrity in the latest issue the French-language weekly Le Journal, which is printed in France.
The director of Le Journal, Aboubakr Jamai, was quoted as saying that the decision marked a return to the past.
"We are seeing the return of methods we had thought were in the past. We are supposed to be in a lawful state while the language of this statement is that of a dictatorship," he told the AP - (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)