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Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review 
December 17 , 2011

Peace Corps/Morocco and “The Jinn”.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 15, 2011
 

Move over vampires, werewolves, and zombies—here come the Jinn! Author Stephen Guth unleashes his latest book, The Jinn, on unwary American audiences. “America’s horror favorites better watch their backs," Guth warns. "There’s something ancient at the top of the horror food chain—the Jinn. They’re horrific beyond imagine, they’re powerful, and they’re pissed that they’ve been ignored for so long.”

The Jinn, a horror thriller, is the story of three American girls fresh out of college who join the Peace Corps and travel together to Morocco. While living with their host family in the ancient border city of Oujda—known as the City of Fear for its bloody past—the girls become ensnared in the supernatural world of the Jinn. These most feared demons of Islam, the Jinn, existed before man and live on earth in a world parallel and normally unseen to mankind. As the girls encounter the terror of the Jinn and each face their fiery destinies, one girl is aided by an unexpected ally to fight the Jinn and their master, Sakhr. Her search to defeat the Jinn leads to the crypts of saints in the oasis of Sidi Yahia and the haunted catacombs of the Beni-Snassen mountains.

Much of the story exists in reality or in legend. “In many ways,” Guth says, “The Jinn is a story that was just waiting to be discovered and told. I was merely a scrivener, creating the characters and linking them to an amazing set of religious beliefs, historical facts, and exotic locales.”

Guth explains his motivation for writing The Jinn, “I’m a huge horror fan, but, frankly, I was getting tired of the same old rehashed stories. American audiences deserve something better. Why not introduce them to the horrors of the Jinn, which roughly half of the world’s population already believes in?”

This latest book by Stephen Guth is available in print at Lulu and for the Kindle on Amazon.com. Visit The Jinn on the web.
Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/525499#ixzz1giiibciS
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Morocco Series: Responding to the Arab Spring, and Teaching HIV Prevention in Mosques.
Uploaded by PBSNewsHour on Dec 14, 2011

Ray Suarez gives a preview of his two reports from Morocco, focusing on a project that trains imams to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention, and government reform efforts in response to the Arab Spring.

Watch the video here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/12/preview-is-moroccos-evolution-not-revolution-working.html

When a series of revolts known as the Arab Spring swept through northern Africa this year, taking down government after government, Morocco was not immune to the unrest.

Protesters filled the streets for weeks in February and March demanding change. But in an unexpected move, Morocco's king responded swiftly, announcing in a televised speech on March 9 constitutional reforms, free parliamentary elections and his intention to strengthen judiciary independence.

The country held new elections in late November, so Ray Suarez and the NewsHour team traveled to Morocco to see where reform efforts stand. Has Morocco been successful at charting a more peaceful course to real change? Are the protesters who filled the streets satisfied with the direction of the country? Suarez spoke with government officials, political analysts and activists to find out.

As part of our Morocco series the NewsHour also looked at another progressive program ongoing in the country -- a campaign to train imams to talk about HIV/AIDS in mosques. The disease is still taboo in the country, so getting imams to buy into the importance of HIV education is a key component of prevention efforts. Imams are also trained to teach their communities how to treat people who have HIV with compassion and dignity.

Watch a preview of these pieces above and tune into our series beginning Tuesday of next week. Visit our global health page for features all next week, including reporter's notebooks from Ray Suarez, slideshows, and a profile of an education initiative combating unemployment by teaching students to become entrepreneurs.
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Fez forum discusses youth concerns. By Siham Ali for Magharebia in Fez – 15/12/11

Young people are the vehicles of change in the Arab world. In the new reality taking shape, they need a more visible political role.

Arab states need to accord youths the place they have been denied in society and open up political venues to integrate young people into decision-making.

This was one of the recommendations of the 8th Fez Forum on the Alliance of Civilisations and Cultural Diversity, which wrapped up on December 12th. The focal theme was the challenges of globalisation and young people.

Participants in the four-day event discussed the transformative revolt that became known as the "Arab Spring" and youth grievances.

Across the Arab world, young people face difficulty landing jobs and gearing their education with job market requirements, according to the Moroccan Interdisciplinary Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CMIESI). They also suffer from lack of real openness between people of the Mediterranean area.

The discussions revolved around the achievements of the popular movement that began with the Tunisian revolution, said CMIESI chairman Abdelhak Azzouzi, whose group held the event.

In their closing statement, the participants called for a review of the basic principles of education and training in order to better prepare youths for the labour market. They also insisted that new ways of trans-Mediterranean co-operation be introduced to forge a sense of common destiny.

Civil society and youth organisations need to play an active role in achieving political change and development in society as part of a new alliance between social identity and openness towards others.

Furthermore, participants called for the creation of a world youth and development observatory.

Development cannot be pushed forward, nor can democracy take proper roots, unless young people are integrated into society, said the National Human Rights Advisory Council (CNDH) chief Driss El Yazami.

The recent events in the Arab world, he added, have provided clear evidence for those who were still unaware of the socio-demographic and cultural changes which have been under way for decades in the region, namely the emergence of new players – in this case young people – on the social scene.

"The coming decades will be impacted by the presence of young people, who will exert a great influence on the shape of society," El Yazami concluded.

Each country involved in the Arab Spring has its own particular characteristics, according to political analyst Mohamed Darif. Some, he said, tended towards radical change, while others undertook "controlled change". Morocco opted for reform as a part of a process of change and continuity, Darif said.

For her part, Zeina El Tibi, who chairs the Observatory of Geopolitical Studies in Paris, warned against marginalising women, who played a prominent role in the Arab revolutions. http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/12/15/feature-01
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Discover Rural Tourism in Morocco, Part II: Meet Amina Jadoui, Riad Assounfou in Talaaint
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
by Jennifer Lam, New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism Management

This is a 6-part series on rural tourism in Southern Morocco, told through members of the newly formed rural tourism association, Réseau de Développement Touristique Rural (RDTR), located in the Souss Massa Draa Region in Southern Morocco. Previous posts: Part I.

We met Amina at our hotel. As soon as we caught sight of her graceful and purposeful approach from her 4 WD, we knew we were meeting someone special. Dressed head-to-toe in black with matching sunglasses, her cell phone in hand, she was ready to get down to business. Her colleagues say, “Amina has the capability of 100 men.” In the short hour from our hotel to her guesthouse and wellness center in the province of Tiznit only one hour south of Agadir, we knew without a doubt the truth in that statement.

Amina is a woman who goes after what she wants. Her career in tourism began in 1986, when she became one of the first female tourist drivers, then guide in Morocco. She speaks Berber, Arabic, German, and French. Over the years, she has launched a successful transportation company, wellness centers (with traditional Moroccan hammans and massage), and cultural guesthouses.

Her latest endeavor, Riad Assounfou, builds on the successes of her previous businesses. The riad posed a couple of new ventures; one is a full service traditional Moroccan restaurant complete with lively cultural entertainment. As we walked through the crowded restaurant it was clear that she had successfully navigated the first venture. The second challenge was the development of the resort. As we strolled through development site of the resort, Amina, shared with us her vision and ideas for the space. What she did not share was the litany of challenges she has had to face as a woman directing men in the building of her resort. This was shared to us by the men that have come to deeply respect her vision and strength through years of working with Amina. It is the strength, passion and humor of her convictions, along with her consistently fair business interactions, that allowed her to overcome the initial lack of respect the riad’s construction crew initially showed.

The riad will be open shortly for individual to large group events such as corporate retreats, weddings, and family reunions. The accommodations are traditional Moroccan, an oasis set in the mini dunes. The resort offers many tourist packages including spa and desert lifestyle experiences and trips to Souss Massa Draa National Park.

To learn more about Riad Assounfou, visit http://www.riadassounfou.com/
http://www.google.com/url?sa=X&q=http://www.africa.com/blog/blog,discover_rural_tourism_in_moroccopart_ii_meet_amina_jadouiriad_assounfou_in_talaaint,486.html&ct=ga&cad=CAEQARgAIAAoATACOAJAmdWk9wRIAVAAWABiAmVu&cd=4SHbM4LM_78&usg=AFQjCNFv9hhgmIceum6Rr-L_liopwVavjQ
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Morocco strengthens and diversifies its agricultural production, OBG
London, December 16, 2011  (MAP)

International think-tank Oxford Business Group (OBG) highlighted, in a recent analysis, efforts made by Morocco to strengthen the cultivation, distribution and sale of agricultural commodities in order to spur greater domestic production and hedge against further price volatility.

Given the impact rising commodity prices have had elsewhere in North Africa, Morocco has taken a number of steps to ensure that basic living costs are kept within reach of the most vulnerable segments of the population, including an innovative portal that seeks to provide some transparency on bulk and retail prices, the OBG said.

Asaar, which is Arabic for “prices”, is an online database that aims to limit speculation on local food prices, the OBG noted, adding that the initiative was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and allows public access to the prices for a wide range of products, ranging from fruits to vegetables to cereals and meat.

Given the prominent place Morocco’s agricultural sector occupies in the country’s economy, boosting production has also been a focus for the government, the think-tank said, adding that currently, agricultural cultivation, husbandry, fishing and processing contributes up to 19% of GDP and is a major job creator, employing approximately 42% of the general working population, and as many as 80% of people in rural areas.

As a result, the OBG went on, the country has sought to dramatically revitalise the sector with a comprehensive overhaul, spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV).

Launched in 2008, the plan is targeting a significant increase in production volumes as well as an improvement in the sector’s socioeconomic returns, particularly in terms of poverty reduction, employment and GDP contribution.

Oxford Business Group is a global publishing and consultancy company producing annual investment and economic reports on more than 30 countries. Every business intelligence report is based on in-country research conducted over an average of six months by experienced analysts.
http://moroccoworldnews.com/2011/12/morocco-strengthens-and-diversifies-its-agricultural-production-obg/19462
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Morocco strengthening cultivation and distribution of agricultural commodities.
Ahmed Rashid
Friday, 16 December 2011 Global Arab Network

In a bid to spur greater domestic production and hedge against further price volatility, the Moroccan government has implemented a number of initiatives in recent months to strengthen the cultivation, distribution and sale of agricultural commodities, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.

Given the impact rising commodity prices have had elsewhere in North Africa, Morocco has taken a number of steps to ensure that basic living costs are kept within reach of the most vulnerable segments of the population, including an innovative portal that seeks to provide some transparency on bulk and retail prices.

Asaar, which is Arabic for “prices”, is an online database that aims to limit speculation on local food prices. The initiative was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and allows public access to the prices for a wide range of products, ranging from fruits to vegetables to cereals and meat. The project covers price points for dozens of outlets, including nine bulk markets, 20 retail markets and 25 souks across the country.

Some 220 people have been tasked with ensuring the research is up-to-date, including 60 inspectors who send in new prices via PDAs directly to the site and provide information on any recent price variations or new products.

The internet portal marks only one of a number of moves in recent months by the government to limit fallout from commodity volatility. In September 2010, for example, the government suspended Customs duties on soft wheat to ensure regular supply after Russia cancelled most of its exports following inclement weather conditions that dramatically curtailed its crop production.

Given the prominent place Morocco’s agricultural sector occupies in the country’s economy, boosting production has also been a focus for the government. Currently, agricultural cultivation, husbandry, fishing and processing contributes up to 19% of GDP and is a major job creator, employing approximately 42% of the general working population, and as many as 80% of people in rural areas.

However, the limited amount of arable land, which comprises only 13.5% of Moroccan territory, combined with unstable climate conditions, constrains the sector’s performance and has led to significant swings in output in past years. The small size of most plots, which average 5 ha or less, and the lack of irrigation also conspire to drag down performance.

As a result, the country has sought to dramatically revitalise the sector with a comprehensive overhaul, spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Green Morocco Plan (Plan Maroc Vert, PMV). Launched in 2008, the plan is targeting a significant increase in production volumes as well as an improvement in the sector’s socioeconomic returns, particularly in terms of poverty reduction, employment and GDP contribution.

The programme consists of two phases and should attract Dh150bn (€13.43bn) in investment and create 1.5m jobs by the time it is completed. In late September, Morocco received Dh565m (€50.6m) in aid from the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, AFD) to support the plan’s second phase. The AFD’s contribution, which seeks to boost revenue for small producers in marginalised areas, will target development in Tanger-Tétouan, Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate and Fez-Boulemane over the next four years.

Several initiatives under the aegis of the PMV have already been launched, which encompass a range of efforts to improve efficiency and quality along the entirety of the value chain. Sefrou province, in the Fez-Boulemane region, for example, was granted Dh31.8m (€2.8m) in 2011 to develop projects to improve the quality and production of crops such as apples, olives and cereals.

In Oued Ifrane, the PMV programme is providing training to 75 farmers to improve revenues from local cereal and olive farms, while a separate project in Timhdit, worth some Dh19.5m (€1.75m), aims to develop a 500-ha plum plantation which would provide 261 farming jobs. Another four projects are planned for the Ifrane province in 2012 to produce crops such as cherries, peaches, plums and apples, all which have higher added value and are less vulnerable to climate change than the production of cereals, for example.

More immediate forms of production support have also been unveiled. Aziz Akhannouch, the minister of agriculture, announced in September that some 130m kg of seeds will be made available to farmers to plant next year’s crops, following an increase in the amount of funding for subsidy increases to Dh200m (€17.9m), up from Dh170m (€15.2m) in 2010-2011. (OBG)
http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/2011121612294/Economics/morocco-strengthening-cultivation-and-distribution-of-agricultural-commodities.html
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Morocco presents human rights action plan
By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia 15/12/11

A just-unveiled initiative aims to incorporate respect for human rights into Morocco's national policies.

To mark the 2011 UN Human Rights Day, Morocco introduced an action plan to integrate human rights principles into the kingdom's national policy.

The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) organised a seminar on December 10th to explain the content of democracy and present the initiative to legislators and civil society organisations.

"The general goal of this plan, which includes several measures concerning various aspects of human rights, is to establish general integrated policies based on the values of democracy and human rights, and to conduct an evaluation of the country's general policies in the past years, some of which were not integrated," said CNDH Secretary-General Mohamed Sebbar.

The project to prepare the plan was launched three years ago based on a recommendation from the World Conference on Human Rights that was held in Vienna in 2003. The supervisory committee presented the first version of that project to the government last July.

Following this year's political reforms, the Ministerial Commission in Charge of Human Rights was tasked with developing a new version of the plan, which was presented to the government on September 19th.

"The political reforms that were introduced in Morocco have placed this plan in a new and positive context to boost democracy," said Inter-ministerial Delegate for Human Rights Mahjoub El Hiba. "In this way, this country has become a model in some fields of reform, especially those related to human rights."

"The national democracy and human rights action plan is considered the first general plan in this field, and it was prepared with the support of the European Union," he added.

The blueprint features four main aspects. The first concerns good governance and democracy, with an emphasis on human rights, equality, transparency and the re-building of relations between citizens and state bodies. Secondly, it focuses on economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. The third aspect deals with the rights of marginalised categories, including battered women, people with special needs and senior citizens. Lastly, the plan touches on legal protection, which includes constitutional rights guarantees and judiciary reforms.

The initiative drew fire from some legislators, who argued that the parliament should have participated in its drafting. Fatna Lkhiel, of the Popular Movement party, wondered why the law-making body was not involved in the preparation of the plan but was required to support it. http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/12/15/feature-03
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Cookbook Review: Wolfert returns to Moroccan cuisine
By Clare Leschin-Hoar Dec. 12, 2011

Ingredients in her new book are readily available in our region’s farmers markets

The latest work by legendary cookbook author Paula Wolfert may just be our favorite. Not only is “The Food of Morocco” rich with photos and generous with recipes that we’re actually eager to try out, it’s also especially suited to the bounty of our own San Diego farmers markets. Recipes are stacked with ingredients essential to the authentic cooking of Morocco, but they’re also readily abundant here in our own local food shed: citrus, olives, honey, almonds, dates, pomegranates and fish.

Wolfert has long been known for her love of Moroccan cooking. She broke ground in 1973 with the first American cookbook on the subject, and followed that up with several more focused on Mediterranean cuisine. In “The Food of Morocco” we clearly sense a homecoming for Wolfert, but we’re the ones reaping the reward of her lifelong passion.

While some recipes are complex — like the Bastila of Fes with chicken or the oh-so-tempting M’Hanncha for dessert — and best suited for a long and lazy Sunday at home, there were plenty of bright and flavorful ideas perfect for weeknights. We liked the Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup; Sautéed Shrimp Casa Pepe (Pil Pil) and Chicken Smothered with Tomato Jam. And we’re now officially inspired to get our own tagine, to test some of Wolfert’s mouthwatering lamb and beef recipes. That said, our most thumbed-through and favorite chapter turned out to be the one devoted to bean and vegetable dishes. Bright and flavorful ideas like artichokes with orange compote; winter squash with caramelized onions, and eggplant smothered with charmoula (an herb mixture that we started slathering on nearly every vegetable dish that crossed our path) were winners.

We’re lucky too. It’s the age of social media, and Wolfert is plugged into Moroccan Cooking, a group on Facebook where she regularly posts pictures and updates to more than 2,500 participants who chat over various recipes and interact directly with the author. And for those of you on Twitter, you can follow the goddess of Moroccan cooking @Soumak.
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/dec/12/wolfert-returns-to-moroccan-cuisine/
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