Morocco bans Al-Jazeera reporters over ‘irresponsible’ coverage

The Moroccan government must be feeling shaky if it has to ban Al-Jazeera

Earth Times, 29 Oct 2010

Rabat – Morocco has withdrawn accreditation from correspondents of the Arab television channel al-Jazeera because of their “irresponsible” coverage of the North African kingdom, the Communication Ministry announced Friday.  Al-Jazeera had violated the journalistic rules of “honesty, precision and objectivity” several times, the ministry said.

The Qatar-based channel’s coverage had tarnished Morocco’s image, downplaying its achievements in areas such as development, infrastructure projects, democracy and human rights, the ministry complained. It had also damaged Morocco’s interests in areas such as its territorial integrity, the communique said, in an apparent reference to Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara.

Al-Jazeera had not heeded several official warnings, the ministry said, explaining that Rabat had decided to expel the TV broadcaster after carefully evaluating its reports. The channel had also imported technical equipment without the required permits, the ministry added.

Al-Jazeera had reported critically on poverty in Morocco and on its policies in Western Sahara, a territory annexed after 1975, where separatists accuse Rabat of repression, observers said.

The correspondents, most of whom were Moroccans, had stayed in the country, but were no longer allowed to file reports, al-Jazeera sources said in Rabat.

The Moroccan and Qatari governments were in contact and seeking a solution, the sources said.

Press censorship was reduced after Mohammed VI became king in 1999, but critics say it has increased again in recent years.

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