MNT interviewed the Moroccan Union of Online Journalists
By Samira Arabi, Mourad Anouar and Anouar Mzoudi
Morocco News Tribune
Agadir, Morocco–The executive office of the Moroccan Union of Online Journalists held its periodic and ordinary meeting on Sunday, 27th, in which they discussed a number of issues such as regulating and restructuring of new branches, and took a series of actions, measures and decisions.
At the end of their meeting, MUOJ issued a press release, in which the Union first appreciated the distinguished step taken by “Jamiat Adala”, which launched a program for legal support for journalists in Morocco. This initiative, as the release stressed, will boost the defense of media freedom and expression.
Concerning the latter, the Union strongly condemned the continued attacks on journalists, and called for the official authorities, especially the Ministry of Justice, Freedom and the Ministry of communication, to protect journalists.
The Union also talked about their intention to raise awareness among online journalists of their rights, and to accelerate in creating new union branches in different cities across Morocco, where applications of membership have increased.
The press release, in addition, pointed to an agreement reached concerning the first meeting of the national council of the union that will take place in April 2013 in Rabat.
The purpose of this meeting is to form a committee from members of the executive office to prepare the logistics for this important turning point that requires the discussion of many projects, especially the interior law of the union which has become ready after it was approved by the executive council during a previous meeting. The national council is also required, according to the press release, to elect a national coordinator so that this institution performs its role as defined in its basic law.
Morocco News Tribune did an interview with Abdellah Aftat, president of Moroccan Union of Online journalists, who expressed his delight to talk to us.
MNT: In general, how do you assess the Moroccan authorities’ treatment of journalists?
Abdellah Aftat: The Moroccan authorities still don’t respect journalism as a profession. For example, many journalists have been humiliated and abused recently even though a number of human right groups, activists and others have demanded that journalists are to be respected. The authorities don’t listen so the abuse is still going on.
MNT: Do you think that online journalism will wipe out print journalism?
Abdellah Aftat: In spite of the fact online journalism is widespread; I think the time hasn’t come yet to get rid of print journalism. Print journalism might become less popular—which is the case now. However, print journalism still has an audience in Morocco. When we communicate with the officials, we are treated differently if we represented a newspaper. The officials only deal with online news websites under pressure or when we insist, that’s all. I believe that in the future online journalism will become more popular while print journalism will be marginalized as the demand for it will decrease.
MNT: What steps will you take to support the journalists who get abused by security forces?
Abdellah Aftat: We, in the Moroccan Union of Online Journalists, will always defend any journalist who gets abused—through legal means. We might also resort to street protests because it is a dangerous situation when a journalist is abused. The situation requires an “uprising” when such abuse happens. In this occasion, I would like to highlight that we are coordinating with a number of groups, associations and others, those who represent journalists and human right activists to discuss what should be done at this level.