The following article was written by Ellie Zimmerman, a student from the fall 2019 class of SIT: Field Studies in Journalism and New Media, and was published in U.S. News and World Report in October 2019.
RABAT, MOROCCO – Journalist Omar Radi is straightforward when explaining why he attended a recent rally to protest the detention of fellow journalist Hajar Raissouni: “There’s no neutrality in journalism,” he said after he and dozens of other Moroccans publicly protested the jailing of Raissouni, whom authorities in this conservative North African country arrested on Aug. 31 and charged with having an abortion and having sex outside of marriage.
The protest that Radi attended achieved its goal on Oct. 16, when the 28-year-old Raissouni received a royal pardon that cleared her and her co-defendants – Raissouni’s fiancé, the doctor and the medical office assistant. All of the accused denied the charges, but Radi says the pardon was due to mounting international pressure.
Because Raissouni is a journalist who covers politics for the independent Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum, her case sparked an uproar from media and human rights activists in Morocco and abroad, who claimed Raissouni was targeted and the charges were a poorly disguised punishment for her work.
In a statement following Raissouni’s arrest, the prosecutor said that the arrest was not politically motivated or related to Raissouni’s reporting, and that law enforcement officials had been watching the doctor’s clinic where many unlawful abortions were regularly taking place.
But Raissouni’s case is not unique. She is the 11th journalist imprisoned in Morocco since 2011, more than twice as many as the previous decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Morocco’s score on the World Press Freedom Index, compiled by the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has fallen every year since 2015, as the country ranks 135th out of 180 countries.
Read the full article here.