Press Watchdog Asks Moroccan King to Intervene in Newspaper Ban
An international press watchdog group Sunday called on Morocco's King Mohammed VI to intervene in the controversial weekend ban of three Moroccan newspapers, a statement from the organization said.
Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF, Reporters Without Borders) sent a letter to the king, asking him "to intervene personally so that this decision (to ban the papers) would be revoked."
"This measure is quite simply alarming and (has to be) condemned," the letter from RSF General Secretary Robert Menard continued. It "runs contrary to all the promises made by the new king."
The Moroccan government on Saturday banned three weeklies -- Le Journal, Assahifa, and Demain -- for "threatening the stability of the state," according to Culture and Communications Minister Mohamed Achari.
Editors of the banned publications slammed the decision as "intellectual terrorism" which showed the government's undemocratic nature.
Le Journal published a letter on November 25 that was attributed to Mohamed Basri, which implicated the Moroccan left in a failed assassination attempt against the late king Hassan II in 1972.
Basri was a former co-leader of the leftist National Union of Popular Forces (UNFP), which became the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) in 1975. He returned from exile in 1995, but did not rejoin the USFP at the time.
Assahifa published the text of the letter in Arabic on Friday. Achari said Demain had published articles and opinion pieces that included similar ideas.
The ban follows two other recent crackdowns on press freedom in Morocco.
On October 8, authorities placed a French television team under house arrest for illegal filming. Network executives said the crew was seized after making a program about a notorious former prison camp in the Atlas mountains at Tazmamart.
On November 5, authorities expelled Claude Juvenal, the Agency France-Press bureau chief in Rabat, but never gave a reason for his expulsion -- PARIS (AFP)
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