Reporting Different Religions and Diversity in Morocco

Dates: 4 – 6 December 2015

Country: Morocco

King_Mohamed_V_Morocco“There are no Jews in Morocco. There are only Moroccan subjects.” This is how Moroccan king Mohammed V apparently responded to the Vichy regime during the Second World War which held power in North Africa. His protective position of the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world at that moment has become legendary.  Although the number of Jews in Morocco significantly decreased in decades after the war, going from more than 250.000 to 2.500, participants of a workshop held in December in Casablanca wanted to know why there are no articles or TV and radio programmes about the Jewish heritage in their country.

The workshop was organised by the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) in partnership with DAMIR, a Moroccan organisation promoting freedom of conscience and belief. DAMIR gathers some of the biggest names in Morocco – intellectuals, journalists and artists, and it is led by Salah El Ouadie, a poet and human rights advocate.

Morocco_Workshop_December_2015Participants at the workshop were sixteen Moroccan journalists. They discussed how to include ethnic and religious minorities in their stories, how to report on atheists, where the boundaries of freedom of expression are and whether freedom of belief is guaranteed in every country which has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Talking to his young colleagues, well-known Moroccan journalist and DAMIR’s Executive Board Member Bachir Znagui said that “question of diversity is a question of identity”. “We should ask who we are and what bring us together. Is that our religion, or our country, or the same nation we belong to,” said Znagui opening up a debate on tradition, inclusion and ethics of journalism.

Morocco_December_2015In practical exercises prepared by MDI trainers Dasha Ilic and Safi Naciri, participants played  with stereotypes and prejudices that some of the media use when report on marginalised groups. Also, participants wrote stories on various topics such as discrimination of a Moroccan who has converted to Christianity, inheritance law which is based on the Quran and states that male relatives receive double the inheritance of women in most cases, as well as a story on Sub-Saharan migrants living, working and paying taxes in Morocco, but not having a right to vote.

MDI’s workshop in partnership with DAMIR is a part of the MDI project “Promoting Freedom of Expression, Diversity and Inclusion in Morocco”. This project has been implemented since June 2013 and is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.