New York, November 4, 2008--CPJ is deeply concerned by the decisions of the Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian governments to ban the new issue of L'Express magazine carrying a series of articles about Islam and Christianity.
The cover of French magazine carried the headline "The
Jesus-Muhammad Shock" with a depiction of the two religious figures. In its
international edition, the magazine covered Muhammad's face with a white veil out
of respect for "religious sensitivity in the
The articles, which compared and explored elements of the
two faiths, were timed to coincide with a planned meeting between Muslim and
Christian scholars in
"We deplore the ban on L'Express,
which denies readers in
Moroccan Information Minister Khalid Naciri said the magazine violated a provision of the press code that bans material deemed damaging to "Islam, the monarchy, or state unity," according to news reports. The goverment blocked distribution of the magazine on Sunday, according to news reports.
The Algerian Ministry of Information said the magazine was banned on Monday because it violated a provision in the press code that forbids international media from publishing "illustrations or accounts ... contrary to Islamic morality or national values," The Associated Press reported. The Tunisian government also banned the magazine on Monday. AP quoted an unnamed official as saying the material was "offensive to Islam," AP said.
The bans occur in countries where the press has been under rising pressure from authorities. On September 9, a Moroccan court convicted blogger and journalist Mohamed Erraji of "failing to respect the king," after he wrote an article claiming that King Mohammed VI rewarded people who praised him. In the wake of international criticism, an appeals court overturned the conviction.