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Newspaper forced to alter front page for fear of censorship

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has expressed its concern when the printers of the "Journal Hebdomadaire" forced its management to change its front page photo and others inside for fear the edition would be seized if it was printed as it was.

Managing editor, Ali Amar, changed photos illustrating a feature on a work by two Moroccan artists - inspired by French artist Gustave Courbet's painting "Origin of the world" - which had been withdrawn from an exhibition in Mexico at the request of the Iranian ambassador, who found it "prejudicial to the Muslim religion".

Amar told Reporters Without Borders that the printer had been convinced that the Moroccan authorities would not allow the edition in question, on 30 November 2007, to go on sale.

"The Moroccan state did not have to intervene in this censorship decision. It is currently benefiting from effects of pressure it has put on printers for several months," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "They are now becoming censors by proxy and are over-doing it to avoid any further confrontation with the authorities."

The Moroccan authorities in August 2007 cordoned off the premises of the printers Idéale for several days and destroyed copies of the weekly "Tel Quel", on the orders of the interior minister Chakib Benmoussa. A member of the printers' management was questioned by police in connection with legal proceedings against the paper's editor. At a recent meeting with print company executives the minister warned them to be "vigilant" (see IFEX alerts of 7 August 2007, 6 January 2006, 31 October and 17 August 2005).

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