Furor in France as North African Radio Station Kicks Hosts Off Air for Interviewing Israeli Ambassador on Peace With Morocco
The principal radio station serving the large North African community in France was facing possible legal action on Monday over its decision to suspend two of its most popular presenters for interviewing the Israeli Ambassador in Paris.
Rose Ameziane and Malik Yettou — hosts of the program “L’Actu Autrement” on Beur FM, a national station that broadcasts in the French, Arabic and Berber languages — declared themselves “amazed and disgusted” by the decision of the station’s management to sanction them for an interview they conducted with Daniel Saada, Israel’s envoy in France, at the end of last year.
The interview was part of the duo’s research for a special program on the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel. After the Israeli Embassy in Paris tweeted a “big thank you” to the two presenters following the interview with Saada, Beur FM’s management decided to take disciplinary action against them for allegedly violating their editorial mandate.
The station’s director, Djima Kettane, sent the pair an email on Dec. 23 informing them that their show had been suspended and would not resume broadcast “until we have had a proper ‘editorial debrief,'” Rose Ameziane explained in a media interview over the weekend.
Ameziane hit back against the station’s claim that the act of speaking to the Israeli Ambassador was not permitted by its editorial policy.
“In what way is addressing this historic agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and Israel not part of the editorial focus of Beur FM? How did we go beyond our rights by speaking with the Israeli Ambassador to France?” she asked.
She pointed out that the station’s website carries three tabs reading “Algeria,” “Morocco” and “Tunisia.”
“This is news that impacts our listeners of Maghrebi (North African) and Moroccan origin, yet we are told we didn’t respect the editorial line of the radio!” Ameziane stated.
In a separate interview, however, Djima Kettane disputed Ameziane’s version of events.
“There was no sanction from the management, the presenters are free to meet with whomever they wish,” the Beur FM director told the news magazine Marianne. He said that the station’s objection stemmed from its preference that any discussion with the Israeli Ambassador should be held live and include audience feedback.
Ameziane and Yettou’s show returned to the airwaves on Jan. 15, but in a different time slot that slashed their audience figures. “We were made to understand that we were embarrassing,” Ameziane said. She said the duo had since “consummated the divorce” with Beur FM and would likely take legal action against the station.
“We must stop infantilizing listeners, or believing that the Muslim inhabitant of a working class neighborhood is necessarily anti-Jewish,” Ameziane said.
She argued that the station’s refusal to give visibility to the Israel-Morocco agreement was itself an “antisemitic act.”
Ameziane also accused Beur FM of practicing double standards with regard to Israel.
“Will they ask us to stop questioning Algeria’s foreign policy, or its policy towards migrants?” she asked. “African migrants are arrested and thrown back into the desert where they are left to die, so much so that today migrant families are trying to find the bones of their loved ones.”
Continued Ameziane: “We have to stop the hypocrisy. If you are truly a humanist, you must show a little honesty in your indignation.”