News24

Moroccan newspaper closed

2009-10-01 10:55

Rabat - The Moroccan national journalists' trade union SNPM has accused the government of breaking the law in closing the offices of a newspaper that published a caricature of the wedding of a cousin of King Mohammed VI.

Such measures were not within the law, the SNPM said in a communiqué quoted by press reports on Wednesday.

The union also urged the government to change a legal article that requires journalists to "respect" King Mohammed and his relatives.

Police closed the offices of the daily Akhbar al-Youm in Casablanca on Tuesday, interrogating its director Taoufiq Bouachrine for hours in the afternoon.

Strictly private

The Interior Ministry announced legal action against the newspaper for "not respecting" a member of the royal family in publishing a caricature linked to a "strictly private" event.

The caricature shows the king's cousin Moulay Ismail in a portable chair used in wedding ceremonies against the backdrop of a star reminiscent of the star on the Moroccan flag and of the Star of David, which is on the flag of Israel.

The caricature, the meaning of which was not clear, referred to Moulay Ismail's marriage to a German Muslim woman over the weekend.

"The use of the Star of David ... raises questions about what the authors are trying to hint at and indicates tendencies towards blatant anti-Semitism," the ministry said.

It is not rare for the Moroccan authorities to seize issues of newspapers or to take legal action against journalists, but closing newspaper offices is very rare.

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