By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Morocco World News
Casablanca, January 9, 2012
Journalism can be a perilous job when journalists decide to seek the truth at any price. Their task then becomes as hazardous as that of a soldier venturing into a landmine field where any misstep could result in a deadly blast, especially if the whole area is contaminated. Journalists can be killed, abducted or jailed in their pursuit of truth and justice. When columnists like Rachid Nini repeatedly crossed the presumed “red lines”, he turned into a palpable threat and his sympathizers became outcast from the mainstream media.
This was Radwan Hafiani’s lot. The daily Assabah journalist was barred from entering his office without prior notice. Sources close to the journalist assume that Hafiani’s dismissal is a vindictive maneuver against him for his unwavering support to Rachid Nini, who has spent six months of his one year sentence in Oukasha Central Prison in Casablanca. He was charged for “reporting false criminal circumstances” and for “contempt of a judicial entity”. Rachid Nini’s notorious column “Choof tchoof,” which literally means “look and reflect”, published in Arabic could reconcile Moroccan readers with their press.
In his column, Rachid Nini used unflinching satire to expose high ranked officials involved in corruption and squandering of public funds. However, his black humor became less appreciated by the establishment hawks. Nini is now behind bars pondering his ideas in the loneliness of Oukasha prison, yet his cause has rallied journalists and human right activists across the globe.
On Thursday, the Moroccan Union of professional caricaturists in partnership with the Union of Moroccan Journalists will hold a conference under the theme “Protection of Moroccan Journalists”. The conference will be conducted with journalists who were unfairly dismissed or harassed, with Rachid Nini as a case in point.
Another medium of information that had captured the Moroccan readership has eclipsed in silence after its editor was accused of defamation and heavily fined. Moroccan readers are still nostalgic of the finesse and style of Abou Bakr Jamai that required the company of a dictionary and his dauntless investigations that held the public in suspense. Abou Bakr Jamai laid the foundations of avant-garde editorial lines that relied mainly on leaked official documents, which discredited a number of policy makers long before Wikileaks started intercepting documents alleging government and corporations misconduct.
Caught between the hammer of his duty as a truth seeker and the anvil of a newspaper on the verge of collapse, Abou Bakr Jamai chose to resign and leave his beloved country for broader horizons.
Moroccans can perceive a glimpse of hope in the appointment of Mustapha Ramid at the helm of justice and liberties and the young Mustapha Al Khalfi as a minister of Communication. Mr. Ramid, a seasoned lawyer has been an outspoken advocate for human rights and has been in charge of the defense of Salafist detainees in one of the most controversial trials Morocco has known.
The daily Al Massae published in its weekend issue a statement by Mohammed Sektaoui, the regional head of Amnesty International in which he says, “Many journalists were tried under both the penal code and the press law, which has resulted in severe sentences. We call on Mr. Ramid to guarantee the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression”. Sektaoui also urged the Minister of Justice to enforce or officially confirm Moroccan laws in line with the country’s commitments to international human rights conventions.
The recurrence of different abuses against journalists remains inimical to the consolidation of democracy in Morocco. On the other hand, it burdens further the new government already committed to addressing other serious issues and high expectations. The journalist community adds to the crowd of dissatisfied protesters rejecting cosmetic reforms and proclaiming its desire for real charge.
Let’s hope that the newly appointed government will rise up to the expectations of all Moroccans, who yearn to see their country make decisive strides down the path of consolidating democracy and the rule of law.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Loubna Flah is a Moroccan national. She earned a master degree in Biochemistry from the Mohammedia faculty of science and technologies. She obtained also a bachelor degree in English studies from Ain Chok University after writing a dissertation about the aspects of sexism in Moroccan Arabic. She graduated from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat as a high school teacher of English.
© Morocco World News