Moroccan Communications Minister Mustafa Al-Khalfi has denied media reports that he authorised a publishing ban on 29 newspapers.
The ministry announced that licences would not be granted for the publication of only five foreign newspapers, accused of "insulting Islam and flagrant violation of UN and international resolutions, last of which was resolution no. 65/224 of the UN General Assembly".
Spanish newspaper El Pais was banned twice from distribution. The first was due to a caricature allegedly insulting the king and the second due to defamatory content against the king and Morocco as a whole, the ministry stated.
One of the instances was when El Pais's February 25 issue published extracts from a book named "Prédateur Le Roi" (King predator) written by French journalists who were close to the Royal Palace during the reign of King Hassan II. The book spoke of the growth of companies linked to the Moroccan royal family and the increasing wealth of King Mohamed VI.
El Pais's February 16 issue drew the minister's ire for publishing a cartoon of King Mohammed VI with the key to the new Moroccan constitution in his hands.
Al-Khalfi said then that the decision to ban the paper was made under the press code because the cartoon insulted the monarch.