While Mohammed VI has been derided in an Algerian broadcast, the Cherifian kingdom is plaguing its neighbor. Caricature of the king has been banned in Morocco for decades.
On February 16, 2012, the Spanish daily El Pais published a cartoon of Mohammed VI. The distribution of the Iberian newspaper was directly banned in Morocco. Because, specified a senior official of the Ministry of Communication, "in this caricature, there is a deliberate desire to disfigure the image to harm the person of the king".
This is because, in the Shereefian kingdom, one does not joke with the king. In the Moroccan Press Code, it is expressly stated that "any offense (...) against His Majesty the King, the Royal Princes and Princesses", by a publication, is "punishable by imprisonment of 3 to 5 years and a fine of 10 to 000 dirhams ”(100 to 000 dollars). A ban already provided for in the same Press Code ... in 1. At the time, the fine was then enacted in francs.
"Caricature in our country is almost prohibited by national consensus" (Hassan II)
The ban on making fun of the king is therefore not recent. And it is widely accepted. Thirty years ago, then invited on a French television channel in the program "The hour of truth", King Hassan II explained: "I admit the criticism but I require a minimum of respect in the expression of this review ”. He added that he "would never tolerate a press like Le Canard Enchaîné". Before saying: "Caricature in our country is almost prohibited by national consensus".
And if we believed for a long time that the arrival of the young Mohammed VI on the throne would change the rules, nothing helped. In 2003, a director of satirical newspapers, Ali Lamrabet, was sentenced to four years in prison - he was released after six months after a pardon - for "insulting the person of the King", after having published several cartoons.
Khalid Gueddar is the first Moroccan cartoonist who dared to caricature King Mohamed VI. The designer was sentenced to three years in prison in February 2010 after a press cartoon mocking Moulay Ismaël, the king's cousin. "The Moroccan regime is afraid of humor and professional journalism, and its animosity towards journalists is growing day by day," said the cartoonist.
An Algerian program that causes scandal
While it is forbidden to cross the red line in the kingdom, the king's cartoons also go badly when they come from abroad. Eight years after the episode of El Pais, last Friday, it is the turn of an Algerian channel to be at the center of criticism. Echourouk News indeed caricatured King Mohammed VI in a program, "Weekend story". The monarch then appeared in the guise of a puppet and was mocked for the normalization of the Sharifian kingdom with Israel and about Western Sahara, a thorny subject in the region.
What to provoke the ire of Morocco. The head of government Saâdeddine El Othmani estimated that "the opposition media are waging a war of insults against the constitutional institutions of the country as well as King Mohammed VI". For its part, the Moroccan Federation of Newspaper Editors (FMEJ) considers the behavior of the Algerian channel "irresponsible". By touching on two very sensitive subjects - the king and Western Sahara - Echourouk crossed the famous red line, straining relations between Morocco and Algeria a little more.