Paying for the sins of others – #FreeAliAnouzla

19 septembre 2013 1 h 26 min 7 comments

By Samia Errazzouki

The scenario borders sheer absurdity. Ali Anouzla, a Moroccan editor and journalist, whose work is most often featured on the online Moroccan news publication, Lakome, was arrested for reporting on a video that the Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released. The AQIM video targeted King Mohammed VI as leading a kingdom of « corruption » and « despotism. » Moreover, the video calls on Moroccans to wage a violent resistance to the monarchy’s rule. The video itself, with its context, origins, objectives, and timing, certainly merits coverage. And as Lakome stands as the most consistent source of information (they were the site that originally broke the story of #DanielGate: the royal pardon of the convicted Spanish pedophile), Lakome‘s coverage of this video breaks no norms.

Contrary to reports circulating online, Lakome did not post the video, but rather published a screenshot along with a synopsis of its contents.

Three days after Lakome covered the video, news spread across social media that Ali Anouzla was interrogated, then arrested in response to Lakome‘s coverage of AQIM’s video. Moroccan site Yabiladi was one of the first to break the news based on confirmed information. Within hours, a #FreeAliAnouzla campaign was in full force, including the launch of a petition calling for his release. There are several factors to consider in light of this blatant violation of a basic journalistic freedom: the singling out of Ali Anouzla, an unchanged precedent of the regime’s oppression of online and independent media, and the outward projection of the Makhzen’s fragility and its insecurities.

Those who of us who first heard of Ali Anouzla’s arrest were dismayed but not surprised. Ali Anouzla has long been a torchbearer with regard to maintaining a critical perspective toward the Moroccan regime in its entirety–including the king. His articles carried a consistent bite that delivered incisive commentary that inspired, pushed boundaries, and set precedents. It was only this past June that Anouzla wrote a damning article that pointed out the king’s consistent absence from Morocco for his own personal vacations and the political implications behind those extended periods of absences. Anouzla also co-authored a pertinent piece with Aboubakr Jamaï, who heads the French version of Lakome, on how the inherent authoritarian nature of the Moroccan regime is a factor to consider regarding its position toward the Western Sahara.

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A screenshot of the article on AQIM’s video on Lakome‘s French version. Link to the article is here.

The king and the Western Sahara are the unspoken « hands-off » topic in Moroccan media, unless the position being put forth explicitly supports the dominant narrative. Ali Anouzla has not shied away from not only addressing these « hands-off » topics, but more importantly, critically engaging them on an Arabic platform that predominately addresses Moroccan readers. There had been prior reports that Anouzla received visits from Moroccan intelligence officers, which has become a rite of passage for most critical writers and activists in Morocco. Though Anouzla, as a Moroccan living in Morocco writing pieces that critically engage dominant narratives, and whose pieces tend to see widespread dissemination, his writings have come to embody precisely what the Moroccan regime has attempted to subvert. Since the regime cannot arrest and/or interrogate every single Moroccan writer, journalist, editor, or activist, it takes a nuanced approach that is not always calculated to subvert these critical voices

Anouzla, specifically, gained a loyal and growing following both within Morocco and abroad. His articles were often translated to French, English, and other languages, cited in major news outlets, and became the source of a critical and informed perspective that was underrepresented in Moroccan media, even online. For this reason, news of his arrest spread relatively quickly and with much indignation. It was not long after his arrest that the Moroccan Association for Human Rights and the Moroccan National Press Union released statements, as well as Amnesty International. A Facebook group with over 4,000 followers has also been created. Several protests have been organized calling for his release in Casablanca and Rabat, among others.

Aboubakr Jamaï characterized it best: « The [Moroccan] regime wants an end to electronic press. » The limits on online press in Morocco differ to that of print, for obvious reasons. The financial costs of maintaining an online publication are far less than that of a print publication. Online press is also more accessible to an international audience. And then there is also the advantage of being able to host an online publication on a foreign server, such as is the case with Lakome, among others. All these factors make it difficult for the Moroccan regime to police and censor critical publications. However, the cost lays with the affiliates of these publications that are based in Morocco, such as Ali Anouzla. They become easy targets for harassment and prosecution, though they are often paying for being associated with a publication that is known to tow a critical editorial line. This is when the value of anonymity becomes greater, as is often the case with some of the most prolific online Moroccan users. Ali Anouzla certainly isn’t an exception, however. There have been instances of the Moroccan regime pursuing and harassing other writers whose work appears both online and in print, such as Ahmed Benchemsi and Ali Lmrabet.

The stream of logic is certainly twisted. AQIM publishes a video, Ali Anouzla reports on it, Ali Anouzla gets arrested and detained for « inciting terrorism » and is therefore held under the anti-terrorism law of 2003. The regime is obviously less concerned with Anouzla’s coverage of such video other than using this as a window of opportunity to silence one of its most prolific critics. What could trigger such insecurities other than looming fear of threat to the status quo? The regime had to deal with the unexpected and rapid response to the king’s pardon of a Spanish pedophile several months ago which yielded nationwide demonstrations, widespread coverage on international mainstream media, and direct criticism toward the king’s management of affairs. The response shook the regime to its core, forcing the palace to respond with an immediate press release and promise of an investigation–a response unheard of in Morocco’s recent history. This, paired with the ongoing price hikes in basic commodities, such as fuel (whose price was hiked just this week), paint a seemingly gloomy picture for the stability that the Moroccan regime has banked on since the first pro-democracy protests broke out in February 2011.

This is all to say that Ali Anouzla’s arrest, while deplorable, comes at time when the regime is grappling with its own image and interests. Perhaps the regime expected that more would be sympathetic to its detainment of Anouzla, thus their decision to characterize this affair as a matter relating to « terrorism » and « national security. » Though such an act only further reveals the authoritarian nature of the regime and its failure to address genuine demands for reforms, despite the fact that its oppressive treatment toward critical voices defies its own measures it put forth in the 2011 constitution. The regime has established a precedent, however–the fact that such a measured response in opposition to its repression remains steadfast indicates that passivity is not among the courses Moroccans have chosen.

For further reading on Ali Anouzla’s arrest:

7 Comments

  • La liberté de parler, d´opiner, d´écrire et d´imprimer!

    Depuis l´ émergence de Nikola Sarkozy (un des gros Mentors de Mommo), la liberté des médias en France a été souvent mise en cause!

    En Juin 2009, la Télévision suisse romande a diffusé un documentaire traitant du pouvoir de ce curieux personnage, qui depuis son émergence, il n´a fait que réduire la liberté de presse! De ce fait, la police de la grande nation est devenue perquisiteur(e) des rédactions, mettant en examen les plus brillants des Journalistes. Vis-à-vis ce comportement au beau pays de Montaigne, Paris Match qui a eu l´audace de publier la photo de l´ex épouse de Sarko (Cecilia) accrochée au bras de son amant Richard Attias, la direction du groupe Lagardère est entrée en conflit avec Alain Genestar qui fut directeur de ce trop populaire Magazine, finissant par l´évincer, après plus de 20 ans de très excellents services. Le reste des employés de Paris Match, ils répondirent par un arrêt de travail mettant en cause Sarkozy, qui a toujours été un vrai fidèle ami de Lagardère. C´était le 29 Juin 2006.

    Le 8 Janvier 2008, lors de la présentation des vœux à la presse du président de la République, Nicolas Sarkozy prit longuement à partie Laurent Joffrin, à propos de la monarchie élective! Joffrin contesta dans un de ses éditoriaux. Ce scénario s´est produit vers la mi-janvier 2010 et se solda par de nombreux témoignages et des sympathies manifestées sur des Sites et réseaux Face book, ne faisant que faire revivre le cas Fansolo et le Maire d´Orléans.

    Le combat d´un Journaliste!

    Paul Parisot, devenu journaliste professionnel au sein de la Libération et à la rédaction de Franc-tireur, il rejoint France-Soir sous la direction de Pierre Lazareff et fut contraint de subir un dur duel face à Robert Hersant, qui tenta racheter Le Figaro et France-Soir, vers le milieu des années 1970. Parvenant Hersant à réaliser ces acquisitions, Paul Parisot n´eut comme choix que partir, évitant de tomber sous la férule de son redoutable adversaire soutenu par el mismísimo Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Les collègues de Parisot (une cinquantaine sur 200), ils quittèrent France-Soir, allant participer à la création du Matin de Paris, ainsi permettant au brave Parisot de devenir leur rédacteur en chef. Plus tard, la justice parisienne estima juste son réintégration chez France-Soir!

    Parallèlement à ses fonctions de Journaliste, il a été élu président du Syndicat des journalistes français. Pendant une bonne décennie à ce poste, en même temps, il fut l’un des artisans de la création de l’Union nationale des syndicats de journalistes et rédacteur de la fameuse déclaration des droits et devoirs – »Charte de Munich´1971«; puis entre 1978 et 1982, Président de la Fédération internationale des journalistes.

    – Conclusion

    Les Journalistes objets des pressions politiques et sous les contraintes des propriétaires des Médias et des intérêts financiers, ils n´ont plus d´indépendance pour respecter leur déontologie et jouir de la liberté qui devrait leur permettre de réaliser un journalisme indépendant, permettant d´investiguer et d´écrire.

    De ce fait concernant la liberté de la presse, la France qui a connu le cas du blogueur Antoine Bardet Fansolo et Serge Grouard (Maire d´Orléans), elle n´occupe que la place 44 parmi 178 Etats! Quant à nos pays arabes représentés par sage Abdallah Ibn Abdelaziz et l´infaillible roi des grâces accordées aux Haschaischis et aux pédophiles, à l´instar du pouvoir de la Mafia italienne, ils sont les pires! Nonobstant, le cas d´Ali Lamrabett, celui de Nenni et aujourd´hui Ali Nouzla, ne sont que des successives alarmes invitant tous les intellectuels marocains (hommes et femmes) à se réveiller, se solidariser et faire face à la tyrannie d´une monarchie qui s´impose par ses idées archaïques et un comportement remontant au moyen-âge, sans prendre en considération les enfants du peuple qui veulent vivre selon cette nouvelle ère des grandes mutations.

    Houcine__

  • Comment faudrait-il si facilement détrôner le prédateur – roi des pauvres?

    – Voici un tout petit et trop simple exemple:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPln6rVKuYA&feature=youtu.be

    Houcine__

  • When Moroccans will see this regime for what it is and not what it to pretend to be ,they’ll win and prosper, Moroccans will ,so the video Mr. houcine did the link to as an example, when some of the protesters stood their ground the octopus king’s dogs ,run away, the problem is as soon as they charges the protesters flee ,if they stand their ground the dogs will put their tails between their legs and mama her we come, but it’s a start ,when the octopus king is in Africa doing what he cannot do in a democratic country he is playing Santa in the summer ,when his backyard is in an absolute poverty ,he is playing the rich with his poor country money. A shame on him and Anouzla is the man, the octopus king is not.

  • Système fasciste et très féodal: moi ou votre déluge!

    On a inventé le terrorisme comme un autre moyen pour légitimer le pouvoir du fascisme et du racisme. Au Maroc, la dynastie des brigands alaouites, elle a toujours fait recours à ce moyen, ne créant que Dar as-Siba et Al Makhzen! Qu´importe donc le nombre des victimes et la faillite économique d´un pays et toutes ses misères, là où encore des gens se prennent pour les plus élus, appartenant à la race la plus honorée, malgré leurs nombreuses maladies et toute la corruption de leur système féodal!

    http://www.h24info.ma/maroc/politique/jamai-le-regime-veut-la-fin-de-la-presse-electronique

    Je reconnais que Monsieur Aboukakre Al Jameí est plus courageux que moi!

    Cordialement

    Houcine__

  • Les sales finances des Al Saoude!

    Le cas d´Ali Anouzla est un règlement de compte répondant et venant des corrompus khaligis. En premier lieu, il s´agit d´une décision saoudienne, vite exécutée par ledit roi des pauvres!

    http://fr.lakome.com/index.php/maroc/1372-sit-in-de-solidarite-avec-ali-anouzla-a-rabat

    Pour le moment, au monde entier, cette arrestation est fermement condamnée, et les petits marocains et marocaines, longtemps hypnotisés, ils ne font que se réveiller d´un long sommeil similaire à la légende des gens de la cave (Ahlo Al Kahfe).

    Ali: nous t´assurons et te confirmons que partout nous sommes avec toi, et ta définitive victoire sur l´arbitraire, elle n´est qu´une question de quelques jours. Hier, tu parlais de nous et de notre liberté! Aujourd´hui, c´est nous qui sommes en devoir de ne pas se passer de ta noble cause, qui est la nôtre aussi et celle de tous les citoyens libres.

    Patience et bon courage Ali!

    Houcine__

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