Morocco Forbids Spanish Journalists’ Entry

By Cristina Rojo

SPAIN. “¿Journalist?, you are not allowed in. We have restrictions until new order”. This is how one Spanish journalist tells about his latest visit to the Spanish border with Morocco, in the neighbouring city of Ceuta. It’s been about a week now since the Moroccan officials at the border started interrupting the entry of Spanish journalists to Morocco, arguing that they have “orders to do so” from Rabat, as local daily Ceuta al día states.

This comes to place weeks after the violent raids at the Sahrawi camps in Western Sahara, where at least 12 people were killed according to Moroccan officials.`

As spanish daily newspapers El PAIS and EL MUNDO informed then, Moroccan government, not pleased with the way Spanish media was covering the event, made it difficult for the journalists to move in the area, and even deported some of them out of the country. As an example of some of the news that Morocco said were untrue is the case of various Sahrawis which denounced torture at Laayoune, facts that contradict the official Moroccan version.

Following this, Morocco issued a press release charging against Spanish media for their “tendentious” informations, although at the end of this note alleged that “journalists enjoy freedom of movement in the country”.

The conflict between Spanish press and Moroccan government has now reached Strasburg, where last thursday the European Parliament approved a Resolution of “strong condemn” against the violent events taken place in Western Sahara, asking for a UN Independent Inquiry into the situation, calling also on the Moroccan authorities to allow free access for press and observers to the area.

Spanish Federation of Journalists Associations (FAPE), together with 14 media channels from the country have signed a joint statement criticising Moroccan informative procedures relating all news connected with Western Sahara. They argue that this is a “serious attack” to the freedom of the press and it concerns not only to journalists, but to all citizens since they prevent them from receiving “independent” information.

While Spanish press is not allowed in Morocco, Moroccan national news agency, MAP, informed last week of the visit, today monday, of a group of Moroccan journalists to Ceuta (Spain), organised by the Mediterranean Club of the press. In the press release, MAP calls Ceuta “occupied city”, and explains that the objective of this visit is for the foreign journalists to establish contact with the Muslim community (around 40% of the population of the city) living in this “occupied prison”.

“Spain Welcomes you”, says Jose Luis, one of the reporters that hasn´t been allowed to enter Morocco during the last week, even though he actually lives in a small Moroccan town very close to the border. He is married with a Moroccan woman and they have two children together, but so far he can´t go back to his home due to the Moroccan ban on Spanish press.

Laayoune is hundreds of kilometres away from the Spanish border with Morocco. Hundreds of people continue to cross daily through the border point of ‘El Tarajal’. But when will this Spanish journalist be able to return home, and all his colleagues move freely in the neighbour country?

7 Comments

Filed under EU, Journalism, Migration, North Africa, Politics

7 responses to “Morocco Forbids Spanish Journalists’ Entry

  1. Wadia

    Morocco forbids biased journalists to enter the country, not the professional ethical once !
    They have been publishing false statements, faking pictures…

    http://www.moroccoboard.com/news/34-news-release/4932-media-in-spain-escalates-cris…is-in-western-sahara

    another article about one of their errors:
    http://uspolitics.einnews.com/pr-news/230680-spanish-news-agency-efe-admits-publishing-4-year-old-gaza-photos-from-pro-polisario-source-that-falsely-identified-victims-as-coming-from-w-sahara?sms_ss…=facebook&at_xt=4cf38887856a0dbf%2C0

    This is where the media is escalating the crisis and can cause a problem between the people who trust what they read or what they see, like what happened because of the cartoons !

    In between, the Moroccan press that you are talking about in the article where not allowed into Mellilia by the Spanish authorities!

    The media everywhere in the world should be neutral, take both sides and give a credible information to the audience, which is the readers or the viewers.

  2. Cristina

    Unfortunately the truth is, not touching the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco over Western Sahara, and other recent mediathic conflicts, that Morocco is banning ALL spanish journalists (leaving outside Morocco) to travel to the country, even to do tourism, according to a non official resolution from Moroccan´s Home Office on November 22nd.

    http://www.larazon.es/noticia/2299-marruecos-veta-a-los-periodistas-espanoles-incluso-de-vacaciones

  3. Wadia

    Unfortunately Spain is doing the same thing, and when they are not ethical see link below:
    http://www.map.ma/es/sections/politica/el_gobierno_marroqui_2/view

    it is also because spain is doins so with journalists which you dont hear off: Here is below a press release from the Moroccan Federations of Journalits.
    and by the way, they will pass a law very soon on establishing the visa to all spanish citizens, as Spain does for Moroccans.

    Rabat – Morocco’s press union (SNPM) denounced on Tuesday banning access of a group of Moroccan journalists to the Moroccan Spanish-occupied city of Melillia and the confinement of two cameramen by Spanish civil guard while they were trying to enter the city through its crossing point.
    In a statement, the SNPM added that the behavior of the Spanish civil guard is a repressive practice against Moroccan journalists, who wanted to accomplish their mission as defined by all laws and international standards, including the legislation of the Spanish state itself.

    The union said that the purpose of these practices is to “harass journalists particularly from Moroccan TV channels that broadcast programs on the sufferings of Moroccans in the city where they are repressed by the Spanish forces.”

    It recalled that it is not the first time the Spanish forces in the occupied city avail themselves of these repressive practice, calling on national and international organizations to strongly condemn these acts.

    Abderahim El Bouhedioui from 2M TV channel and Rachid Laatabi from Al Oula TV channel were kept in a location by the guards, who also confiscated the passports of three other Moroccan reporters without explaining motives behind this measure.

    Badiaa Zeghnini (Al Oula), Azzedine Lamrimi (Arabic-speaking paper Al Ahdat Al Maghribiya) and Said Youssi (Morocco’s news agency MAP), who were accompanying the cameramen, intended to enter the city to cover the latest developments of the incidents that occurred recently in Melilia.

  4. Adi Halfon

    something i didnt completely understand:
    do normal spanish citizens allowed to enter morocco?
    if so, how can they tell a citizen from a journalist? most of us look like normal human beings.

  5. Spanish citizens enter Morocco without a visa, while Moroccans enter Spain with a visa;

    The journalists are well known to the police in Morocco, since most onces who have the problems are correspondents livings over here;
    They are some who entered by denying their identity, which was one reasons also that irritates the police, especially that they fake the news and posts fake pictures for fake events.

  6. Cristina

    Hi Adi,
    at the moment this restriction is only applied to journalists, and by this I mean the ones trying to go in now, not the ones living currently there.

    Although Spanish Foreing Ministry said that relations between Spain and Morocco are ‘completely normal’ two days ago, groups from Moroccan’ parliament are asking the UN for a new debate about the ‘colonial’ situation of Ceuta and Melilla. They are also suggesting that all spanish citizens should have a visa to enter Morocco.

    Regarding how can they tell if you are a journalist or not, I am not sure how do they do it when the journalist comes from another city, as was the case of a photographer from Madrid which was deported from Marrakesh a few days ago while he intented to go on holiday. For us, the ones living in Ceuta, we cross the border quite often (we go shopping, for lunch, visiting friends or just on our way to Tangier airport, the nearest one to our city) and many of us are registered there as journalists, as telling your profession is one of the compulsory questions before having access to Morocco.

    For what I know, a radio journalist recenly arrived in Ceuta tried to go to Morocco and said she was shop assistant. (this was her first visit to the country, for holiday purposes, and she knew about the restrictions). The security office at the border denied her access as they found out (no idea how) that she is a radio journalist.

    In my case, I was planning to travel to Madrid via Tangier in Christmas, as the weather conditions at the Strait of Gibraltar are normally very bad. Now nor me, neither more than 25 journalists living in Ceuta, and many others in mailand Spain can.

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