Reporters Without Borders is pleased to learn that the Moroccan authorities have after all granted a visa to Egyptian citizen Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), which defends free expression and press freedom as well as human rights in general.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the Moroccan government’s surprising decision to deny a visa to Gamal Eid, an Egyptian human rights activist. Eid heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), a Cairo-based group that defends press freedom and free expression as well as human rights in general.
“This is all the more astonishing as Morocco does not normally do this kind of thing,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Did Rabat take this decision on its own or was it coordinated with Cairo? The denial of a visa to Eid appears to have been arbitrary, and we urge the Moroccan authorities to quickly provide an explanation.”
The press freedom organisation added: “It is deplorable that members of human rights and free speech organisations such as Eid find their freedom of movement being impeded in some countries in the Maghreb and Middle East.”
Eid was refused a visa on 13 August for the trip he wanted to make to Morocco for a conference organised by ANHRI and a Danish human rights organisation. He has nonetheless travelled to Morocco three times in the past, most recently in November 2008.
The refusal appears to have been in response to statements posted on the ANHRI website criticising the prosecutions of Idris Sheshtan, the editor of the independent magazine Al-Mesha’al, and Mostafa Adary, the head of the Khenefra branch of the Moroccan human rights association, and Morocco’s banning of the 4 August issue of the French daily Le Monde, which had a poll on the first 10 years of King Mohammed’s reign.
When Jordan refused Eid a visa on 15 December 2008, Jordanian intelligence officials told him he had been blacklisted for criticising the lack of free expression in Jordan during a conference organised by the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) in November 2006.
Eid was also denied a visa by Tunisia in the second half of last year. The Tunisian authorities never offered any explanation for the refusal.
Egypt was ranked 146th out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Morocco was ranked 122nd, Jordan was ranked 128th and Tunisia was ranked 143rd.