Media watchdog criticises Morocco for banning French weekly

November 4th, 2008 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Nov 4 (IANS) Reporters Without Borders has condemned Morocco for banning the French weekly L’Express for carrying an article perceived to be an attack on Islam.”Morocco has banned the Oct 30 issue of the weekly for its cover article headlined ‘The shock: Jesus-Mohammed: Their journey, their message, their vision of the world’. The 10-page article just presented portraits of the founders of Christianity and Islam,” the Montreal-based chapter of the worldwide media watchdog said Monday.

“It is unfortunate that the (Moroccan) communications ministry has one again chosen to resort to censorship to have a newspaper banned, which was only bringing elements to the debate on an issue in the news that is of major interest to its Moroccan readers,” it said.

“This decision is all the more surprising since the Moroccan authorities never stop describing the kingdom as a historic place of dialogue and coexistence between cultures and religions,” it added.

The ban comes just days ahead of a meeting between Muslim and Christian leaders in Rome to promote dialogue between the two religions. Morocco, which ranks 122nd on world press freedom index, used the press code to ban the weekly for striking “a blow at the Islamic religion, the monarchy, territorial integrity or respect for the king and public order”.

Reporters Without Borders also cited how Morocco had similarly banned its national weekly Nichane in December 2006 for carrying an article “Jokes: How the Moroccans laugh about religion, sex and politics”.

The weekly was again seized in August 2007 for slamming a speech by King Mohammed and publishing articles dealing with “sex in Islamic culture”.

L’Express is France’s first weekly news magazine, which started publication in 1953.

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