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ANHRI director denied entry to Morocco

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reports that the Moroccan government has prevented Gamal Eid, ANHRI's executive director, from entering Morocco. The staff of the Moroccan embassy in Cairo told him "there is no visa for you here".

The refusal of Gamal Eid's entry to Morocco comes after the governments of Tunisia and Jordan refused his entry into their countries. The refusals are believed to be linked to the clear position that ANHRI has taken in support of freedom of the press and freedom of expression, as well as its criticism of restrictions on these freedoms in these three countries and other Arab states.

Gamal Eid went to the Moroccan embassy to apply for a visa to attend a meeting organized by some Arab human rights organizations in collaboration with a Danish human rights institution. Mr. Eid has visited Morocco several times before, most recently in November 2008. However, when it was time for him to pick up the visa, he was surprised to find out that there was no visa for him and he was given back his passport by an embassy official.

Eid said, "I was not surprised or amazed that they prevented me from entering Tunisia and Jordan, as the former is similar to Saudi Arabia, which is the number one Arab country that is an enemy of freedom of the press. As for Jordan, it was also expected as the kingdom was expecting us to tackle the conditions of freedom of expression. But it was a sad surprise that Morocco refused to give me an entry visa, as we used to believe - and still do - that the situation is different in Morocco. Despite the restrictions on freedom of expression, there is still a free space for defenders of freedom of expression, whether they are bloggers, journalists or members of civil society, to criticize or take different positions and views from the government, without the government resorting to this new approach".

ANHRI is having a hard time explaining this arbitrary denial of entry for a human rights activist. The organisation said, "Despite being angry and deeply disturbed by this procedure, we hope that this mistake can be corrected in the future, but we will not stop supporting freedom of the press and freedom of expression. We will also not stop criticizing the restrictions on these freedoms, as we do regarding all violations, whether in Morocco or in any Arab country. ANHRI believes that freedom of press is a basic right of the citizens that must be respected and defended, and it is not a gift from governments."
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