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Moroccan govt pulls the plug on Al Jazeera TV
Pan-Arab news station Al Jazeera said on Friday that it had been ordered to suspend its TV operations in Morocco by the government of the north African country, which accused the station of damaging the country's image.
REUTERS - Morocco said on Friday it has suspended the activities of pan-Arab Al Jazeera television on its territory, citing what it said was unfair reporting which had damaged the country’s reputation.
Al Jazeera has frequently angered governments in the Middle East and North Africa, where domestic media is often subject to tight restrictions, but the station’s hard-hitting journalism is watched via satellite by millions of people.
The Moroccan Communications Ministry said in a statement it had noted several incidents where the Qatar-based station violated journalistic standards for accuracy and objectivity.
Al Jazeera reported on air that its operations in Morocco has been suspended, but a spokesman at its headquarters in Doha, the capital of Qatar, said he had no immediate comment.
The Moroccan statement, which was reported by the official MAP news agency, said Al Jazeera’s broadcasts had “seriously distorted Morocco’s image and manifestly damaged its interests, most notably its territorial integrity.”
The station had showed a “determination to only broadcast from our country negative facts and phenomena in a deliberate effort to minimise Morocco’s efforts in all aspects of development and to knowing belittle its achievements and progress on democracy,” the statement said.
Morocco is a mainly Muslim country of about 30 million people which is ruled by its monarch, Mohamed VI, and has close diplomatic ties to Europe and the United States.
Media freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders ranks Morocco in 135th place out of 178 countries in its annual press freedom index. It said journalists are often subject to heavy fines if they report on taboo areas of public life.
Though human rights groups say problems remain, Morocco has won international praise for an improvement in its rights record since reformist King Mohamed took over in 1999 from his father Hassan II, during whose rule hundreds of people were killed at the hands of the government.