Moroccan journalists to stage strike; judicial harassment to end
Morocco, Culture, 5/13/2000
Moroccan journalists will stage a 1-hour strike on May 16 to protest sanctions against colleagues. The journalists will wear arm-bands and will rally in front of their Union's headquarters in downtown Rabat to express solidarity with colleagues Mustapha Alaoui and Khalid Mechbal and protest against the efforts taken against the freedom of the press, the Moroccan Press Union (SNPM) said in a release.
Mustapha Alaoui, director of Al-Ousboue Weekly, was sentenced to a three-month jail term and heavy fines and compensation for publishing blasphemous stories against foreign affairs and cooperation minister, Mohamed Benaissa. He was also ordered to stop working as a journalist for one year.
Khalid Mechbal was also sentenced to a six-month suspended jail term and compensations for the same grounds.
The SNPM, which termed the sanctions as "serious," said this is a dangerous precedent and that it could not keep silent on such practices.
Although these judicial sentences are for defamation of character and are officially not for political reasons, they are none-the-less viewed from this perspective since they not only impose monetary punishment, but prison sentences and the prevention of the journalists from practicing their profession.
These practices put into jeopardy all the speech freedom gains achieved by the Moroccan people, the Union said.
On Thursday, the government renewed commitment to protect the press freedom, secure the respect of the law and peoples' rights.
Minister in charge of relations with the Parliament, Mohamed Bouzoubaa, told the press after a cabinet council meeting that the government will carry on efforts to enable the press to fulfill its mission far from any deviation and spare it judiciary action, MAP reported.
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