Maghreb: When under other skies, journalists find easier times defying MBS, alias “Al-Manchar”

By Ali Bouzerda

Once again, Tunisia inspired us all by defying the wealthy and arrogant controversial prince, Mohamed Ben Salmane (MBS), alias “Al-Manchar” (The Saw).

On this occasion, we shall have the courtesy to praise the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) for showing unprecedented courage calling for a boycott of Ben Salmane’s expected visit to Tunisia.

Such visit, however, is unlikely to fool the public opinion as it has been scheduled at very delicate circumstances, at a time when the reputation of Saudi crown-prince and his close circle is at its lowest; hence, KSA seems desperate to clean up its acts by embarking on a long journey to six Arab countries, through Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Mauritania.

Journalists in Morocco, however, were relieved to learn that MBS preferred to visit Morocco’s neighboring countries on the Eastern and Southern sides, without actually dropping by.

Inspired by SNJT’s call for the boycott of Ben Salmane’s official visit to Tunis on Tuesday, The National Syndicate of the Moroccan press (SNPM) has decided to opt for a “deafening” silence.

In Tunisia, the SNJT described Prince MBS as “a true enemy of freedom of expression”, referring to the assassination of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul. Morocco’s SNPM, on the other hand, remained awkwardly silent, for what can only be described as the true “silence of lambs”.

Moreover, Tunisian journalists hung a huge poster at the SNJT entrance of a Bedouin in Wahhabi dress, holding a saw.

In short, one does not need to be an expert in semiology to read between the lines. Besides, and in order to send a much clearer message, the protesting journalists prepared slogans with reference to Bouazizi’s heroic sacrifice, saying: “No to the profanation of Tunisia, land of the Revolution”.

Everything has been said in Tunisia! As for Morocco, SNPM’s position in regards to KSA’s policies has always been controlled by its leadership for the last 25 years which kept running the show using unorthodox methods, in order to avoid confrontation with “their Arab brothers” to not hurt their “self-esteem”.

We shall recall that when SNPM’s leaders speak of their “Arab brothers”, they are actually referring to their generosity.

It is also noteworthy that in order to not be defamed, Morocco’s journalists never fail to attend “journalistic events” held by the Arab Union in different Gulf countries; though most of their activities are funded by you know whom!

It is safe to say that our fellow Tunisian brothers have more solid principle, even before the Arab Spring breaks out, when the SNJT has shown bravely against Benali’s regime. The dictatorial regime during this sad era of Tunisia’s history aimed at breaking the resistance and independence of the protesting journalists through the creation of a new competitive union, but the regime failed in the process.

However, if you are interested in guessing which personalities flew all the way to Tunisia in 2010 in order to witness the birth of Benali’s “newborn” union; well, the answer is: SNPM leadership pair, Younes Moujahid and Abdallah Bekkali.; the two gentlemen, who can’t help but act “wise” accordingly at the head of the National Press Council.

Kafka must be turning in his grave of shame!

Ultimately, “No waves …”, is probably the new watchword for Makhzen these days.

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