Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Open Letter to the King about Press Freedom

Here is another article from To be honest, I am surprised that they are printing anything that even hints at criticism of the King, considering their mission and who is behind them. Be that as it may, here is an article about the open letter sent to Muhammad VI (M6) about the state of press freedom in Morocco.
Open letter calls on Moroccan monarch to guarantee press freedom


By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat – 15/07/09

A journalist's open letter to King Mohammed VI is calling attention to the plight of the press in the country. Khaled Al Jamai published the letter on Saturday (July 11th) under the title, "It has become unbearable and aggravated, and we can wait no more".

"Today, you're the authority," Al Jamai wrote, addressing the monarch, "and as the only owner of this authority, we are calling on you to stop the oppressive attacks and persecution which affect the independent press."

The journalist continued: "We are not begging for any privileges; rather we are demanding a right. You alone can guarantee the press its rights, pending the creation of an independent justice system that can guarantee it. When politics finds its way into the courtroom, justice finds its way out."

Al Jamai said a free press is essential to democracy, providing the transparency to uncover abuses of power and bribery. Nevertheless, he wrote, "These dailies and weeklies with all their journalists and employees knocked on all doors, and went to officials in order to guarantee their rights and ensure their freedom of expression, but in vain."

Due to this perceived democratic deficit, the journalist called Morocco "a country whose people no longer believes in anything". In the recent elections, Al Jamai ventured, "the people showed their rejection of a political class that has turned the Moroccan political scene into 'a market of middlemen and brokers'."

Speaking to Magharebia, Al Jamai said he didn't write the letter expecting a reply from the king. "Rather, I wrote it because I saw something wrong and I wanted to change it, because no one here has the courage to speak to him and tell him how bad the condition is."

He also argued that it is not the Moroccan press that "lives in crisis", but the regime itself. "Therefore, the regime has to find a solution... because the press is only doing its job."

Driss Chahtan, editor of Al-Michaal weekly, told Magharebia there has been a "dangerous retraction" in the freedom of expression. He said journalists want to know who is truly behind the legal actions taken recently against them.

"We don't have anyone in particular whom we can address; we know that the judiciary is not independent, and is subject to certain instructions. This makes us question the source of these instructions. When things become unclear, the last resort we have is to speak to the king to let him know that there are parties that are dragging the country downward," Chahtan concluded.

Said Ben Jebli from the Association of Moroccan Bloggers told Magharebia that many Moroccans share the opinions expressed in the letter. "However, these initiatives usually have no effect because they aren't received with the required response," he said. "They don't have any political force like that of political parties. The king is still the real actor in Morocco."

Ould Al Belad commented on the letter on the Hespress news website. "It's an influential letter that expresses the feelings of 35 million Moroccans," he wrote. "I don't understand this dangerous retraction that Morocco is witnessing now, despite moving on the right track."

Khaled Al Jamai – a former member of the Istiqlal Party's executive bureau – has previously written similar letters in which he called on King Mohammed VI to make reforms.

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