By Youness Radi
By Youness Radi
Morocco World News
Marrakesh, August 7, 2013
As the events of DanielGate continue to unfold, Moroccans feel submerged by an on-going avalanche of scandals.
– The King pardoned a pedophile and rapist.
– Neither the government nor the Palace addressed the situation in an official manner for days
– The peaceful protesters who were attempting to express their disgust with this injustice by voicing their right to free speech were brutally suppressed by authoritarian security forces and the police.
– The Moroccan media and press (except some more independent outlets online) ignored the entire affair.
I would like to focus mostly on that last fact because it especially represents the structural and institutional gaps in our country. How can the national press justify not covering an event that was the sole interest of Moroccans everywhere. Even worse, the scandal was the subject of headlines, debate, and discussion among the international press corps and the entire world.
I have written extensively on the disregard for press freedoms in Morocco and how this conforms to its incredibly low ranking, 136th worldwide, by Reporters without Borders. In my view, when it comes to freedom of the press, we have to assume that it is high jacked by the authorities and utilized as a tool for state propaganda. Our national press only reports on what they are told by the highest authorities in Morocco—including the royal palace—without making any real attempts to verify the facts and truly embark on investigative journalism. The national press is simply not interested in any truth that is inconvenient to the main power holders in Morocco; this includes the royal palace and the well-known Makhzen.
However, Danielgate has revealed a whole new level of disgrace for our national press. The fact that they did not even move to cover what the whole country was talking about is beyond outrageous. It is one thing to refuse to talk about stories that the people don’t know about, but it’s another thing entirely to ignore something that the whole nation is following and discussing. It’s a complete disregard for the Moroccan people and such injustice should be labeled for what it is: criminal.
Some of them claim that, unlike the online press, they are looking for verified facts to publish. In other words they try to avoid rumors. To such claims, I just want to ask them what they do to actually discover the truth. Why don’t they do their job and inform the nation about the real facts instead of forcing us to turn to blogs and pseudo-journalists on the internet to find out what is happening in our own country?
Sadly, I know how they would answer. They would just look at me silently for fear of upsetting the power holders. This is because, to this day, the Moroccan exception narrative holds no weight when it comes to freedom of expression. There is no independent press and state censorship coupled with self-censorship simply means that certain subjects are off limits.
Moroccan journalists are all but bureaucrats, obeying a logic of service and submission. They are completely failing a nation that is in dire need of critical thought and independent journalism. We need investigative journalists to keep the elected, and perhaps more importantly the unelected, officials honest and in check. They are betraying the truth, embarrassing their profession, failing the nation and allowing themselves to become tools of injustice.
Until we have courageous journalists who ready to do their duty to report and investigate without bias, we will always have political people who are abusing their power. In other words, scandals like freeing a pedophile will continue to occur because those people know they can get away with it.
Edited by Anna Jacobs
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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