Morocco’s tumultuous relations with Germany are heading for the doldrums once again as it has been revealed that the German state broadcaster is planning a rather unflattering account of the King’s 20 year reign in a tv documentary and in particular its human rights record.
In March 2021 Rabat and Berlin went into a full diplomatic meltdown following Berlin’s refusal to back Donald Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara plus a row over the handling of a Moroccan dissident who Germany finally gave citizenship to and helped build a case against the Moroccan state based on human rights violations.
At the time, Rabat said it was suspending contacts with the German embassy in the North African kingdom over “deep misunderstandings” on “issues fundamental for Morocco”.
Then in May of the same year, it announced the recall of its ambassador for consultations and accused Germany of unspecified “hostile acts”.
The ongoing row was finally defused in February 2022 with both countries reinstating ambassadors in each other’s capitals but Berlin’s position of Western Sahara – that it should ultimately be decided by the UN – has not changed.
According to Maghreb Intelligence, Deutsche Welle has recently announced the next broadcast of a documentary dedicated to King Mohammed VI and entitled “The king with two faces”.
But those waiting for a scandal hit piece might be disappointed. The German State broadcaster is a little thin on the ground for decent journalists and is so poor that its own German version had to be axed in recent years as no one in Germany could watch it. DW English in fact hardly gets any views at all under the ‘leadership’ of the hapless Peter Limbourg who in recent years has run the station into the ground with infighting, scandals and inept managerial decisions. In January 2020, DW was in the news once again for a racism scandal exposed by the UK’s Guardian, an investigation which unearthed horrific levels of racism against Muslims working for the network in Berlin who were reduced to servants running errands for German workers.
Morocco may well see the documentary in a similar anti Muslim light given the status in the Islamic world of the Moroccan King. Mr Limbourg and his family might well find themselves persona non grata in the kingdom when it is released.
According to Maghreb Intelligence, “this is a documentary against the Moroccan sovereign and which aims to take stock of his reign for two decades. Deutsche Welle believes that, despite the reforms introduced under Mohammed VI, this has not changed democracy in the country”.
The documentary in question will be broadcast at the end of March and beginning of April in German and English. It is unclear whether DW applied for a filming permission from the Ministry of Communications in Rabat or worked undercover, using local journalists.