The government of Morocco has suspended Al-Jazeera’s operations in the country and withdrawn accreditation for its staff after what it called "numerous failures" that went against the "rules of serious and responsible journalism."
The Qatar-based pan-Arab news channel has condemned the move, saying in a statement on its website: "Al-Jazeera has denounced the suspension of the network's operations in Morocco.The closure of its bureau in the capital, Rabat, would not change the network's editorial guidelines."
Al-Jazeera insisted that its coverage of Morocco was always based on professionalism, balance and accuracy, and said it would continue its coverage to serve the interests of viewers in line with journalistic values.
Communications Minister Khalid Naciri claimed that action was taken against Al-Jazeera because its "refusal to be objective and impartial systematically tarnishes Morocco's image.
"We reproach this channel for ignoring the main principles and transmitting a caricature of Moroccan reality," he added in a statement to AFP.
A government official who declined to be named said the authorities took exception "to the way Al-Jazeera handles the issues of Islamists and Western Sahara."
More than 2,000 Islamists have been arrested and sentenced in Morocco since the Casablanca bombings of May 16, 2003, when more than 40 people were killed in an attack by Islamist extremists.
The Western Sahara, meanwhile was annexed by Morocco in 1975 after Spanish colonial rule ended. The occupation was the subject of a long-running campaign by armed separatists until the UN brokered a cease fire in 1991.