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Morocco’s king vetoes Islamist cultural reforms to preserve image of tolerant Muslim state (WORLD TRIBUNE) CAIRO, EGYPT 05/15/12) Source: http://www.weather.com/weather/tomorrow/Jerusalem+ISXX0010:1:IS WORLD TRIBUNE WORLD TRIBUNE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
CAIRO — King Mohammed has begun vetoing decisions by Morocco’s new Islamist government.

The king has taken measures to restrict the authority of the Islamist government of Prime Minister Abdul Ilah Benkirane.

In the latest move, Mohammed fired the president of the nation’s broadcast authority, which sought to ban advertisements for gambling supported by Communications Minister Mustapha El Khalfi, an Islamist.

“He [El Khalfi] is the minister of communication and not a mufti who bans and authorizes,” Sports Minister Mohammed Ouzzine, a non- Islamist minister in the coalition Cabinet, said.

On May 11, the king fired Mohammed Ghazali, the Islamist president of the Superior Council for Audiovisual Communication. Instead, Amina Lamrini El Ouahabi was appointed to head the authority, which oversees broadcasting.

Officials said the royal court was alarmed by the rapid changes ordered by El Khalifi and other Islamists. The authority, most of whose members are Islamists, directed Morocco’s two public television stations to ban advertising for gambling, reducing French programming as well as broadcasting the five daily Islamic calls to prayer.

“These [television] channels are performing a public service, and so they must submit to certain minimum requirements,” El Khalifi said.

The Islamist revisions were scheduled to begin on May 1. But the royal court pressed for an indefinite postponement and ordered the dismissal of half of the members of the broadcast authority.

Officials said the royal court was determined not to allow the Islamist-led government to harm the Western image of Morocco as a tolerant Muslim state. Over the last few weeks, Moroccan diplomats, including Foreign Minister Saad Eddin El Otmani, have assured Western governments as well as Jewish communities that the North African kingdom remained stable despite reports of Al Qaida-aligned gangs that have assaulted women and secular Moroccans.

The king has also appointed more than a dozen governors and senior officials at the Interior Ministry. Although under the authority of the Islamic government, the powerful Interior Ministry was seen as directly controlled by the royal court.

“These royal appointments are part of the strengthening of good territorial governance and nearby administration aiming to enable state bodies to carry out their missions with efficiency and competence in order to support projects that the different Moroccan regions are seeing,” a government statement said. (Copyright © 2012 East West Services, Inc. 05/15/12)

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