French Media Covers Recent Earthquake Unethically, Moroccan Press Council Says
12:53 21.09.2023 (Updated: 07:28 22.09.2023)
As a result of the devastating 6.9 magnitude earthquake, which hit Morocco in early September, over 2,900 people were killed and more than 5,600 injured, the Moroccan Interior Ministry revealed. The natural disaster was widely covered by news agencies of different countries.
The Moroccan National Press Council submitted a complaint against French newspapers "Charlie Hebdo" and "Liberation" over their "unethical" reporting of the earthquake that struck Morocco’s Al Haouz region on September 8, the council's press release
According to the council, Charlie Hebdo published a caricature on September 15, “inciting a lack of solidarity and discouraging contributions to support the victims of the earthquake in Morocco.”
"It is clear that the Charlie Hebdo cartoon is hurting the victims of the earthquake and the affected families, who are in dire need of support and assistance, especially since many of them have lost their families and breadwinners, including orphaned children, who have nothing to do with diplomatic disputes and political problems," the press release read.
The body called the newspaper's action "unacceptable" and noted that it "violates" the principle of helping those affected by natural disasters and humanitarian principles in general.
The accusation of Liberation concern the media's publication from September 11, which included a photo of a woman, victim of the disaster, with the title "Aidez nous, nous mourrons en silence," meaning "Help us, we are dying in silence," the council noted.
The Moroccan National Press Council stressed that Liberation violated journalistic work standards in several ways. According to the council, the photo of the woman was accompanied by comments allegedly made by her, which were actually fabricated by the media.
The council highlighted that this publication aimed to "undermine the efforts made by the Moroccan authorities
, other rescue teams from friendly countries, and volunteers."
In addition, the body blamed the newspaper for the "exploiting the images of victims of natural disasters for the purpose of cheap sensationalism," which contradicts the principles of journalistic ethics in dealing with the people affected by cataclysm.
Moreover, the Council underlined that these violations took place against the backdrop of attacks by the French media on Morocco, following the alleged rejection by the Moroccan authorities of the French proposal for humanitarian aid.
On September 11, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said that France would allocate 5 million euros to nonprofit organizations in Morocco to help deal with the aftermath
of the earthquake, although there had been no official request from Rabat amid the recent tensions between the two countries.
Amid the controversy, France’s leader Emmanuel Macron addressed the citizens of the North African country "directly" to express his solidarity with the state following the earthquake.
However, the move of the French leader was criticized by the Moroccans, many of whom stated on social networks that the country's King Mohammed VI is the only person, who could legitimately address Moroccan citizens.
According to data from the Moroccan Interior Ministry, the quake, that hit the country on September 8-9, killed
2,946 people and injured more than 5,600. The epicenter of the earthquake was located at a depth of 10 kilometers, and was followed by at least four aftershocks of up to 4.8-magnitude. The king declared
a three-day mourning in the country.