Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sensationalism and Inaccuracy in Reporting Damages Morocco

Reporting of the recent atrocities in France has had an unfortunate side consequence for Morocco. Time and again the suspects were named as being French or Belgian - "of Moroccan origin". The result is the perception that somehow Moroccans were involved. 

To be clear, a Belgian or French national, is French or Belgian, no matter where their mother, father or grandfather was born.

According to Moroccan websites and social media, Moroccans reject any connection with the terrorists and like almost every other nationality has been showing strong solidarity with the people of Paris.

"Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Moroccan who was behind the attacks in Paris"  - a review article entitled published in the online journal Le 360 

The most obvious case in point is that of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged sponsor of the attacks on November 13. Almost every news outlet, including some in Morocco, stressed that he had Moroccan parents. The information spread like wildfire in Morocco, relayed by the national media and social networks, provoking a wide variety of angry reactions.

"In my opinion, it is not authentic to label Abaaoud as Moroccan as he is a Belgian. I have nothing against dual nationality, quite the contrary,  but he grew up in Belgium. He speaks Arabic very badly, he knows nothing of Morocco," says Alioua Mehdi, a sociologist and lecturer at the International University in Rabat.

It raises the interesting question as to why Morocco is seen in such negative light.  Supposedly it enhances the news value of a story to label a terrorist as "Moroccan", when he patently has only an ancestral connection with the Kingdom. It is irresponsible and lazy journalism.

Following the Paris and Tunis attacks Moroccan tourism has taken a hit with local tourism professionals telling The View From Fez that tourist numbers have dropped dramatically.

Morocco has also caused anger in the ranks of daech (ISIL) by its assistance to French and Belgian security agencies. The group posted threats to Morocco on social media including  "to annihilate soldiers, blow up palaces and destroy the economy".  In response Morocco is on high alert.

Arabic daily Al Massae reports that Morocco's civilian security forces (police) and military (Royal Gendarmerie and the Auxiliary Forces) and its intelligence services are on high alert. The State Security Intelligence Unit, the DGSN has cancelled police leave and significantly increase the degree of vigilance at borders, airports and ports to to prevent terrorists entering the country.

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