Newspapers in Morocco
In Morocco there are twelve daily newspapers, of which eight are Arabic and
four are French. The largest are Le Matin du Sahara et du Maghreb and al-Ittihad
al-Ishtiraki ('Socialist unity') in Casablanca and al-Alam ('the flag') in Rabat
(all about 100,000 copies). Other major magazines are French-speaking L'Opinion
(about 60,000 copies) and Maroc Soir (about 50,000 copies). L'Opinion and
al-Alam are issued by the party Istiqlal. There is relative freedom of the
press, but magazines can be withdrawn due to obnoxious articles in certain
areas, eg. Role of Morocco in Western Sahara.
The state-owned company Radiodiffusion Télévision Marocaine (founded
in 1928) broadcasts radio in three channels. Arabic, French, Spanish and Berber,
and TV since 1962 in Arabic and French. There is a private TV station, 2M
International (started 1989), in Casablanca and private radio in Tangier.
In the north of Morocco, Spanish radio and TV can be received. There are 243
radio and 166 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).
With an almost unbroken history as an
independent nation since the 7th century, the Moroccans
have a very rich and mixed cultural heritage, with
influence from mainly Arab but also Berber, Andalusian,
Jewish, French and West African sources.
For example, some Moroccan music has preserved
traditions from the Middle Ages Muslim Andalusia and
shares origins with Flamencon. There are also genres
that have emerged from Sufis religious ceremonies, such
as the Gnawa music with roots in sub-Saharan Africa,
which in 2019 was granted World Heritage status by the
UN organization Unesco. At parties, weddings and other
gatherings, music, song and dance are often performed
where guests participate. Modern Moroccan music is often
inspired by older traditions, but it also draws
influences from the United States, Europe and other
popular world music. In recent years, modern Western
music genres such as rock and hip hop have begun to gain
entry into Moroccan music, sometimes merging with more
Latest population statistics of Morocco, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
The tradition of oral storytelling and poetry is kept
alive. For Morocco public policy, please check
Relatively few novels are written and published in
Morocco in Arabic, and book reading is low. Among the
modern writers are Mohammed Chukri, whose
autobiographical novel The Naked Bread has long been
banned. Relatively many Moroccan writers write in
French. Best known is Tahar Ben Jelloun, whose novels
The Sandbar, The Twenty-seventh Night, and others, have
been appreciated even in Europe. Many writers, such as
Mohammed Khair-Eddine, have written about the country's
identity problems after independence. Sociologist and
feminist Fatima Mernissi has won international
reputation for her work on the position of women in
Islam. Morocco has also inspired many foreign writers
and artists over the years, such as the American Paul
Bowles, who lived and wrote in Tangier.
In recent years, the magnificent desert areas around
Ouarzazate have offered recording venues for Hollywood
films and TV shows. Fort Aït Ben Haddou at the foot of
the Atlas Mountains, a World Heritage site as an example
of southern Morocco's traditional architecture, is
featured in Game of Thrones and Gladiator. There has
been an international film festival in Marrakech since
2000, and the domestic film art seems to be growing.
Volubilis, a place of Roman ruins, has become a
growing tourist destination in recent years. The ruin
town in Arabic is known as Oualili and is on the UN
World Heritage List, where the old neighborhoods of the
cities of Fès, Meknès and Marrakech are also listed.
Since 2013, extensive renovation work has taken place in
Fès, which is famous for a library of more than a
Morocco's Jewish cultural heritage is attracting
increasing attention, with several museums in cities
also being well-visited tourist destinations (see
Prison for Majestic Crime
Mohamed Sekkaki, who publishes himself via YouTube, is sentenced to four
years in prison for a video criticizing the country's king, which according to
Moroccan law is considered a majestic offense. Sekkaki, also known as "Mosul
Kaskita", often reaches over 100,000 viewers with his videos.
Two legal cases following the death penalty against a student
A Tetouan court in northern Morocco sentenced nine people smugglers (seven
Moroccans and two Spaniards) to a sentence of between four and ten years in
prison. The nine were involved in an incident when 22-year-old law student Hayat
Belkacem from Tetouan lost his life (see September 25, 2018).
She was shot to death by the Moroccan fleet on a cruise at sea in a fast-moving
inflatable boat of a type sometimes used by drug smugglers. The shooting death
attracted attention and indignation among Moroccans, who were touched by the
fact that the 22-year-old was trying to get to Europe to help his family. The
relatives have brought an action against the state in a district court in Rabat.
Rappers sentenced to prison
A rapper known as Gnawi is sentenced to one year in prison and fined,
formally for offending the police via social media. His popular song entitled
"Living the People" is about injustice and the text moves close to a "red line"
by pronouncing attacking the king of Morocco.
The prison chief is kicked after torture charges
The head of a prison in Fès gets fired after an imprisoned protest leader
manages to perform a recording in which he claims to have been tortured and
raped. Nasser Zefzafi was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
He and three other leaders of the Hirak movement have been sentenced to long
sentences on charges of endangering state security. They were arrested following
demonstrations in the Rif region and human rights organizations believe that
they have not received fair trials (see December 2016 and
20 July 2017).
Stronger penalty for editor
The sentence for newspaper editor Taoufik Bouachrine is increased from 12 to
15 years in prison. He denies the crimes the regime is accusing him of,
including rape and human trafficking (see February 26, 2019).
The government is shrinking, regions are getting a stronger voice
Ministers on key positions are allowed to remain as the government is
reformed and shrinks from 39 to 24 portfolios. But judges interpret the changes
being made as the king wants to see measures to reduce the risk of new protest
waves against high living costs and unemployment. Following the repeated
protests that raged in the Rif, demonstrations have also taken place in several
cities. A key part of the plans is that the regions will have more to say about,
when it comes to the needs of different countries.
Indignation against prison sentences for abortion
A 28-year-old journalist is sentenced to one year in prison on charges of
having sex outside of marriage and performing an illegal abortion. Her hubby and
a gynecologist are also sentenced to prison sentences. M governm ents says it
has spotted the clinic in Rabat because it has been suspected that illegal
abortions are performed there. Activists claim that the woman was prosecuted for
wanting to stop her journalism work at Akhbar al- Yawm ("Today's News"). The
convict, who has brought indignation, is appealed. On September 23, several
hundred women have published a manifesto in Moroccan media stating that they
have violated "the country's age-old laws and norms". The folk storm leads to a
decision by the king on October 16: the woman, hubby and gynecologist avoid
TV show stopped after joke about wife abuse
A show on the TV channel Chada has been set for three weeks since a celebrity
guest in the program shouted in front of the audience that he was beating his
wife. The statement by singer Adil El Miloudi that this is what a real man does
was met by the pleasures of the host Imad Kotbi and another guest, which
prompted the Haca investigating authority to act.
Jubilant King gives thousands of graces
Mohammed VI celebrates 20 years on the throne. In connection with the
anniversary, the king pardons 4,764 people. Among those escaping from prison are
only eight from the protest movement Hirak who participated in demonstrations in
the Rifbergen 2016 (and none of these should have had leadership roles). About
400 people are believed to have been arrested during the wave of protests in
Rif, of which about 250 have been pardoned in the period leading up to the
King's anniversary, but details are uncertain.
Death penalty for tourist murder
Three men are sentenced to death for the murder of Danish and one Norwegian
woman at the end of 2018 (see December 2018). The men say they
are supporters of the Islamic State (IS). However, IS has said that it is not
behind the deed. The death penalty is set in higher court for all three in
October, while a fourth man gets his sentence at life imprisonment sharpened: he
too is sentenced to death. The death penalty is sometimes punished in Morocco
for particularly serious crimes but no execution has been carried out since
Religion on retreat in North Africa
An increasing number of Arabs describe themselves as non-religious, according
to an interview survey conducted for BBC 2018–2019 by the Arab Barometer
research network, which is based at Princeton University. More than 25,000
interviewees in ten countries and in the Palestinian territories were asked. On
average, the proportion of non-religious has increased from 8 to 13 percent.
Compared to 2013, it is mainly in North Africa - in all the countries of the
Mediterranean - that religious beliefs have weakened.
Berber as the official language is confirmed
Parliament adopts a new law that confirms the status of the Barbican as an
official language with the Arabic. In practice, recognition came in 2011,
through a new constitution.
The king is awakened to a peace plan
King of Morocco receives Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President. Kushner
is preparing a peace plan for the Middle East, to be presented in Bahrain in
June. The basic idea is that Palestinians should be financially compensated if
they accept certain political proposals. Exactly how the United States wants to
involve Morocco in the plan is not yet clear and the Islamic cooperation
organization OIC, which includes Morocco, condemns a few days later the US
decision to recognize Israel's supremacy over Jerusalem. The visit to Morocco is
also linked to the fact that the US is in conflict with Iran and is seeking
support from Arab countries.
Wide settlement between unions and employers
The employers' organization CGEM and the three largest trade unions UMT, UGTM
and UNMT have concluded an agreement that will give many employees increased
wages, according to the government. The minimum wage will be raised - starting
in July, it will rise ten percent in the two-year term - but not for
agricultural employees. The state support for families is increased. A national
organization, CDT, stands outside the settlement, which has been preceded by a
long period of repeated protests against the cost of living rising. The minimum
wage is currently 2,570 dirhams a month, corresponding to approximately SEK
2,700. The agreement is made public on the same day that police use water
cannons to disperse teachers who demonstrate against their short-term contracts.
The celebrity rabbi will lead Morocco's Jews
For the first time in about a hundred years, there is a chief rabbi as leader
of the approximately 2,500 Jews in Morocco. Yoshiahu Pinto was inaugurated at a
ceremony in Casablanca. He will work with the king's approval - Morocco's
current king has been involved in the country's Jewish heritage and, among other
things, has restored synagogues. Pinto, who is known by the Israeli media as a
celebrity robber, is convicted of bribing a police chief in Israel and moved to
Morocco in 2017, after serving a prison sentence. He has gained the epithet
celebrity robbery through his focus on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, which in
recent years has attracted followers, among others in Hollywood.
Imprisonment for Reef protests is confirmed
An appeal court in Casablanca sets the judgments against activists who
participated in the al-Hirak al-Shaabi protest movement in 2016 and 2017. A
total of 42 people are sentenced and the sentence for the leadership figures is
up to 20 years in prison. Demonstrators in the Rif, who largely have a Berber
population, demanded, among other things, efforts to reduce unemployment in the
region; the state authorities have argued that the protests were also about
separatism. Some protesters have previously been pardoned by the king.
Christian appeal before Pope's visit
Pope Francis is visiting. In Rabat, he is holding a mass on a sports arena,
and in the city's cathedral he is urging Christians not to try to convert people
of other faiths - Christian mission raises concern in Muslim countries. In a
statement before the visit, Morocco's Catholic minority has urged authorities to
allow Christians to fully practice their religion. In particular, they want
guarantees for Muslims who convert to Christianity. The majority of nearly
40,000 Christians who are believed to be living in Morocco come from other
Morocco buys fighter aircraft
The US government has given the go-ahead to sell 25 new F-16s to Morocco. At
the same time, 23 F-16 of the older model that Morocco's Air Force has already
upgraded. More than 3,000 planes of this type are in use in 25 countries. The US
Congress has the opportunity to stop the business, which together is worth
nearly $ 4 billion, if it happens within a month. In 2008, Morocco ordered 24
planes; one was lost in 2015 in battle for the Saudi-led alliance fighting a
rebel movement in Yemen.
Water cannons against teacher protest
24th of March
Several thousand teachers are demonstrating in Rabat for better working
conditions, especially for fixed services and pensions. Just a few hours
earlier, riot police with water cannons have been deployed to break up a sitting
strike at Parliament, where about 15,000 teachers have spent the night. A very
large proportion of the teachers who enter into short-term contracts are young.
In recent weeks, they have carried out actions in several cities.
Slow in Western Sahara talks
A new round of conversation about Western Sahara concludes with the finding
that the parties are far apart. Foreign ministers from Morocco, Algeria and
Mauritania and the Saharan Liberation Movement Polisario's negotiating head have
only agreed after the two-day meeting that the UN-led talks - which resumed in
December after six years fully on ice - should continue "before the summer". The
Polisario continues to demand that the Western Sahara be given a referendum.
Morocco says no.
Big dark numbers in migrant traffic
A migrant ship on its way to Spain is sinking in the Mediterranean. According
to information to the organization Caminando Fronteras, based in Tangier, 45
people are killed. 21 are rescued by the Moroccan fleet. Individual
organizations claim that it is often difficult to get information from
authorities on how many people are drowned. In January, Caminando Fronteras
reported that 50 migrants from Mauritania were killed off the coast. According
to the EU, more than 65,000 migrants took over from Morocco in 2018. In the same
year, IOM counted more than 2,200 who lost their lives. Morocco states that
almost 90,000 were prevented from making the trip and nearly 30,000 were rescued
Judgment against newspaper publishers is questioned
Moroccan Amnesty calls on the authorities to release a newspaper publisher
who is jailed. Taoufik Bouachrine, who publishes Akhbar al-Yawm ("Today's
News"), was arrested in February 2018 and convicted in November on charges of
human trafficking and rape. Video films have been confiscated by him, but since
he has repeatedly challenged the authorities on freedom of the press, the
evidence is questioned. The newspaper Akhbar al-Yawm has previously published
regime-critical articles and jokes, sometimes with the royal house as a target.
Western Saharan disappointment over fisheries agreement with the EU
The European Parliament approves a new four-year fisheries agreement with
Morocco, which also covers the waters off occupied Western Sahara. The
agreement, which replaces an agreement that expired in July, is adopted with 415
votes in favor, 189 against and 49 abstentions. The Liberation Front Polisario
responds with disappointment, describing the fisheries agreement as an obstacle
to the peace process the UN runs. EU member states must also approve the
fisheries agreement for it to take effect.
EU yes to controversial agreement
The European Parliament is voting for a new trade agreement with Morocco on
agricultural products, although there is criticism that the agreement will also
cover goods from Western Sahara, which is occupied by Morocco. An extension of
fisheries agreements, at least as contentious, is pending in the European