By Hafid Alaoui
By Hafid Alaoui
Montreal – The first appearance of a newspaper in Morocco was in the northern part, more precisely in Tetouan where it was published in Spanish. At the same time, there was English weekly called “Maghreb Al Aksa” back in the year 1877. These publications were not generally available and they were destined to a certain foreign elite and dignitaries stationed in Morocco for different reasons, particularly in Tangiers, which was an international metropolitan area governed by the major powers at that time. (The Moroccan Press, Abedrahman Berrada)
Under the French occupation starting from 1920, certain publications started to appear in French, such as “Le Petit Marocain” and “La Vigie Marocaine”, these titles continued to accommodate mainly to foreigners’ interests.
To counter the French colonial propaganda, and to incite people to resist the occupation, some nationalists started to distribute flyers. Moreover, other nationalists such as Mohamed Al Ouazzani started to publish their own newspapers. In 1933, he established “l’action du Peuple”, a French weekly magazine focusing on the issues of Moroccans and the injustices of the colonial regime. Later Abdelkhalek Torress and Mohamed Bennouna issued two publications in Arabic in Tetouan: “Al Salam” and “Al Hayat”. These publications served as a stand to go forward in their demands regarding the independence from both France and Spain. It is important to notice that during that period, the nationalists were inspired by the resistance movements in the rest of the Arab world, especially Egypt where the national press was enjoying a very important part in the independence process and revolution against the British colonizer.
The Moroccan press then, was associated with the political parties, specifically the “Independence Party” and to the resistant movements. In their publications, they focused on sensitizing people of their duties to defend their country, they also stressed the obligation of people’s attachment to their values based on Islam and to the king “Sultan Mohamed Inb Youssef “ as the unifier of Morocco and the symbol of an independent and proud country.
After the independence, the press continued to tackle many issues concerning political reforms, equal distribution of wealth and the establishment of a modern political institution. In this phase, “Al Alam” had been launched a few months before independence; there was also the radical leftist and communist press, which was clandestine and irregular. Gradually, Moroccan newspapers began hunting the foreign papers; therefore, the topics changed radically from inciting people to defend their country to informing them about the injustices done by their peers and the necessity to demand the required political reforms and the right to benefit from the wealth and resources of the country on an equal basis.
That was the era where the only valid and successful papers were the partisan papers, in particular “Al Alam” and “Attahrir”, which was renamed “al Ittihad alichtiraki” later on. The former belongs to the Independence Party, while latter belongs to the National Union of Popular Forces.
It took many years to attend the birth of independent press, precisely in the beginning of 1990’s. All in all, there are now more than 650 publications in Morocco, thanks to the relative freedom of the press witnessed in the new era with the coming of Mohamed VI to the throne.
Today, the Moroccan press deals with many topics that were considered taboos or out of bounds, such as the wealth of the king, social hypocrisy, the corruption of highly ranked officials and so on. It tackles many interesting subjects that promote knowledge acquisition of the Moroccan society to a better understanding, like the special reports about “Al Modawana” or the new family code, the equality of genders, single mothers, the weaknesses of the educational system, tolerance and acceptance of others and the recognition of pluralism within our nation. These subjects, when reported, tackled and debated, should have made some changes in our way of thinking, sharpened our critical mind and engaged us as mature citizens.
Neither the independent press has loyalty to any governmental agenda, nor to any political party; it is more autonomous in dealing with issues of general public interest. Readers find their aspirations in the content of these particular papers in news, analysis, reporting and entertainment. This is what explains the appearance of a new breed of newspapers’ readers in Morocco today; consequently, civic education should be an important part in the content of the Moroccan press one way or another.
Edited by Adnane Bennis
Hafid Alaoui is Morocco World News’ contributor
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