RABAT, Morocco — Some 100 Moroccan journalists and activists demonstrated Friday in front of the parliament in solidarity with an editor on a monthlong hunger strike over his treatment by the government.
Ali Mrabet, editor of DemainOnline, has been on a hunger strike in front of Geneva’s Palais des Nations since June 24 over what he is calling government harassment preventing him from working.
Omar Brouksy, a journalist at the demonstration, said Mrabet was being targeted for his outspoken criticism of the state but also it was an attack on journalists in general despite a reformist constitution and public commitment to press freedoms.
“The problem with Morocco is the flagrant incoherence between the laws and the official discourse, on one hand, and the reality, which is very repressive,” he said.
Morocco, a popular tourist destination, is generally considered more stable and open than its North African neighbors, but it still ranks low on press freedom indexes.
Mrabet was banned by a judge from practicing journalism for a decade. During that time he published the French-language DemainOnline, which was critical of the state and often poked fun at it.
When the ban expired in April, he announced plans to bring back the print version of his weekly. Since then he said he has been repeatedly harassed and authorities refuse to issue him a certificate of residence so he cannot renew his identity card, passport or set up his newspaper.
Most of Morocco’s print and broadcast media now strictly follow official red lines — avoiding criticism of the king, the country’s policies in the Western Sahara or Islam.
Many independent-minded journalists have gone online instead, but in 2014, news website Lakome.com was shut down after its editor was briefly charged with abetting terrorism by writing about an al-Qaida video.