Washington DC - Prince Moulay Hicham El Alaoui, the “estranged” cousin of Morocco’s King, is back in the news with the release of the Spanish translation of his recently published book “Journal d'un Prince Banni.”
Washington DC – Prince Moulay Hicham El Alaoui, the “estranged” cousin of Morocco’s King, is back in the news with the release of the Spanish translation of his recently published book “Journal d’un Prince Banni.”
Journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi is back writing about the Moroccan Monarchy. And the censored writer Ali Lmrabet is back denouncing the “surreptitious” relationship between the Prince and the Journalist.
Benchemsi, the former editor of the Moroccan weekly Tel Quel, was a rising star in Moroccan journalistic circles before he left for the United States. His columns and editorials were smart, sharp and always relevant.
His failure to disclose his political and financial ties to Prince Hicham casts a long shadow over his credibility. Benchemsi, who asks King Mohammed’s circles to be transparent, should follow the same set of rules. His refusal to address this polemic is baffling and disappointing.
In the months since the publication of the Prince’s autobiography, Lmrabet has been denouncing the sly role Benchemsi is playing in the promotion of Moulay Hicham’s agenda. Ali Lmrabet, a harsh critic of the Moroccan system, has been unsparing in his denunciation of Benchemsi’s “sell out” to the “red prince”.
In a harsh series of posts published on his website and in a lengthy article printed in the Moroccan daily “Sahifat Annas” (edition of April 30, 2014), Ali leveled several accusations against Ahmed. As of the writing of this article, neither Prince Hicham nor Benchemsi commented on this story.
He claims that Benchemsi helped the Prince “write” the book. He, also, asserts that in exchange of Moulay Hicham’s help in joining Stanford University in the United States as a visiting scholar (Prince Hicham gave a big endowment to Stanford), Ahmed “assisted” in the actual writing of the book “Journal d’un Prince Banni”. Ali claims that the Prince can’t write in such “flawless” French.
Ali Lmrabet, who was jailed in Morocco for insult to the King, is a credible source. It is hard to dismiss his allegations as a pro-monarchy propaganda. Also, the fact that the forthcoming Benchemsi has been silent gives these claims weight.
While we don’t know behind-the-scenes comments and favors, Benchemsi’s presence in Stanford and the anti-Monarchy tone of his writing smell of Prince Hicham influence. Furtherer more, Lmrabet describes the young journalist as “a hired pen” working to disseminate the Prince’s perspective as his own; thus misleading readers in France and the United States.
Judging from the extensive reaction to his last piece in “Le Monde”, Benchemsi’s writings carry significant public relation weight and do influence views in some political circles in Paris and Washington. As such, his connection to the Prince must go through withering scrutiny for the sake of journalistic integrity.
In fact, Le French daily “Le Monde” should be asking their Moroccan contributor about these types of conflict of interest that journalists should seek to avoid. Mr. Benchemsi lack of candor in addressing Mr. Lmrabet’s accusations will eventual hurt the credibility and integrity of the young journalist. It is a serious journalistic lapse.
While there is no mushrooming clamor around this “relationship”, the political innuendo resulting from this ambiguity is inflaming both the anti- Benchemsi and the anti-Prince camps. A recent article on the pro-Palace website le360.ma charging Prince Hicham and Benchemsi for pushing an ongoing investigation by Le Monde into the finances of King Mohammed in France and Switzerland, is one example of the behind scene political drama resulting from this “row”.
According to New York University Journalism Handbook, “it is imperative that journalists avoid conflicts of interest, defined as situations in which there are competing professional, personal and/or financial obligations or interests that compete with the journalist’s obligation to his outlet and audience. A conflict of interest doesn’t have to be financial. It might involve a personal relationship, an activity or a belief.”
Since Mr. Benchemsi continues to write about Morocco’s King in prestigious and influential news outlets, he must clarify his relationship with Prince Hicham El Alaoui. For the average Moroccan, this issue may be insignificant and inconsequential; however, Prince Hicham “side show”, in which Benchemsi plays a major role, is becoming a distraction that hurts Morocco’s national interests.
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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