‘Like Mercurochrome On A Wooden Leg’

The October 16 issue of the New Yorker has a profile by Jane Kramer of Aboubakr Jamaï, founder, publisher, and editor of the Casablanca-based weekly magazine Le Journal Hebdo. The article is unfortunately not available online, so I can’t link to it. You should check it out, though. It’s generally well researched and quite readable, and gives a good background on Jamaï (or Boubker, as he is known.) Boubker’s magazine has created waves in Morocco for its daring reporting on the three taboos of the press (the king’s private life, Western Sahara, and separation of church and state). His work has cost him several trips to the courthouse, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. The quote in the title of this post is from an unnamed source in Kramer’s article who says, “I tell Boubker, ‘Your editorials about the King are like Mercurochrome on a wooden leg.'”

Although I enjoyed the article, I had a couple of problems with it. For starters, the title is “The Crusader.” (I mean, seriously, what was the editor thinking?) And then Kramer adds occasional orientalist comments like: “The King at forty-three is not a statesman, despite a French education.” (Excuse me? So in order to be a statesman one needs a French education?) And when she mentions the women’s rights reform that took place in 2004, she states that Islamists staged a huge demonstration against it in Casablanca, but neglects to add that there was a demonstration in Rabat in favor of the reform. The effect is that one gets the impression that the only political actors on the scene are the king and the Islamists, which is not quite the case.