The mineret that takes you home

About Membership Volunteer Newsletters Souk Links

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web
Morocco Week in Review 
April 7 , 2012

U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues visits Moroc
By Ouarzazate e-News · Updated 4 hours ago · Taken in Casablanca, Morocco

Melanne Verveer, U.S. ambassador at-large for women's issues discussed issues affecting women in the Arab world and other parts of the globe with Global Girl Media Morocco at Dar America(American House) in Casablanca. Ouarzazate e-News reporters Hafssa Ait Tabamoute and Soukaina Bouihi were among GGM team who met with Verveer.
Photos here: PCV Maureen Siehl

Morocco's cereals crop may fall to 3m tonnes
Rabat : Tue, 3 Apr 2012

Morocco's cereals harvest in 2012 may fall to as low as 3 million tonnes due to the effects of drought, the Le Matin newspaper reported on Tuesday citing estimates from the agriculture ministry.  The ministry's spokespersons could not be reached to comment the report.  

"According to forecasts from the agriculture ministry, the cereals harvest (this year) should stand at between 3 and 4 million tonnes," Le Matin said. 

Last month, the head of the country's agricultural research institute told Reuters that the cereals harvest would not reach half of last year's 8.4 million tonnes, while cereals demand stands at some 7 million tonnes.

The US Department of Agriculture later projected Morocco's wheat import needs to exceed 5 million tonnes this year from 3.2 million tonnes for the previous campaign. 

Barley imports are projected to almost double to 1 million tonnes. Last year's harvest included 4.17 million tonnes of soft wheat, 1.85 million tonnes of durum wheat and 2.34 million tonnes of barley. 

The shortage comes at a sensitive time for the North African country's $100-billion economy, which relies on agriculture for 14 percent of its output.    Agriculture employs 40 percent of the 11-million workforce in Morocco, one of the world's 10 biggest cereal importers, which relies heavily on rain due mostly to the predominance of subsistence and rudimentary farming. -Reuters

The Arab Spring May Have Bypassed Morocco, But Its People Are Not Happy
Apr 2, 2012 Newsweek magazine By Laila Alami  Follow @newsweek

A death in the family opens a window on the frustrations that afflict the people of Morocco.

One afternoon in February, a few hours after I arrived in Casablanca from Los Angeles, I learned that my uncle A., a generous man with a troubled soul, had died. I was putting my shoes on with one hand and checking my phone with the other, already running late for a panel discussion at the Casablanca Book Fair, when I saw the message. I was stunned, not just by the news of his death—he was only 73, after all, and although he suffered from diabetes, he was otherwise healthy—but by the realization that I had missed his funeral.

In the Muslim tradition, a body is interred as soon as possible after death. The hospital notified our family of A.’s passing a little after midnight; by morning, he was already washed, shrouded, and prepared for funeral prayers; by lunchtime he was buried at Martyrs’ Cemetery in Rabat, Morocco’s capital city. Because I had silenced my phone, and because I had slept through my jet lag, I had found out about his death only after he had been laid to rest.

To be an immigrant is to live a divided life—a part of you lives in one country, the other part in another. You speak two languages, read two sets of newspapers, hear the conversations of two nations. You learn to dread the moments when the two worlds come together abruptly—like when your phone rings in the middle of the night. Twice already I have had to find out in this way about the death of a loved one. This time, I was in Morocco, but I had somehow managed to be as absent as if I had remained in America.

Forty days of mourning were to follow, and I tried to console myself with the thought that I would at least be there for the first few. In a kind of daze, I took the train 100 kilometers up the coast to Rabat, where most of my family lives. For the past few years, my uncle A. had lived alone, subsisting on small pensions from the police force and the national railway company. His terrible temper had kept him from lasting in either career. He had started a number of businesses, including an automotive body shop and a custom-woodwork company, but he always got bored with them. His final venture had been a farm hours away from Rabat. Everyone in the family, including my father, had been urging him to sell it

I had never seen my parents’ house so full: relatives, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, all bearing words of comfort and commiseration. They spoke of A.’s generosity, his charm, his sense of repartee. Eventually, however, the conversation drifted from kind mentions of the departed to animated discussions of the political. Perhaps it was my presence that had this effect. Just as an immigrant lives a divided life, so too does the family she has left behind. They imagine the new country, and they inevitably compare it with the old.

My relatives had many questions about America. They wanted to hear about things like Barack Obama’s chances for reelection and the possibility of war against Iran. And I had many questions of my own, mostly about democratic change in Morocco. The subject was especially pertinent: that week marked the one-year anniversary of the pro-democracy coalition known as the February 20 Movement. These young activists, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, had continued to hold rallies and marches in cities across Morocco to demand a true parliamentary monarchy in which the king would reign but not govern.

King Mohammad had never faced such a challenge since his ascension to the throne in 1999, but he quickly took charge of the situation. Within weeks of the first demonstration, he announced that Morocco’s Constitution would be revised. And he kept that promise—such as it was. The new Constitution is the first in the region to recognize the language of the indigenous Amazigh people. It also entitles the winners in legislative elections to form a government. Nevertheless, the real power remains firmly in the king’s hands. He still makes all major political, military, and religious decisions, and he can still dissolve Parliament at will.

The big question, the question that weighed on my mind throughout my stay, was whether these extremely modest reforms had had any effect on ordinary people—people like my family. But I didn’t hear the long and thorny discussions of democracy I had expected. Democracy was a word used by other people—the king, the protesters, the politicians, the media—and they were using it to mean different things. Instead, the conversations I heard focused on issues that were more mundane and arguably more urgent: the cost of living, the ubiquitous corruption, the shoddy state of hospital care, the appalling state of public education, the waste of government money on flashy projects.

The talk of such problems began with one of the mourners complaining about his utility bills. He blamed the soaring costs on the water and power company, which had been privatized. My uncle M., brushing back what remained of his hair, replied that the problem wasn’t really the fault of the French corporation that had taken over. Morocco doesn’t produce enough energy, my uncle argued, and people are consuming more than ever. The man’s reply was stubbornly factual: “My bills are too high.”

In turn, my father recounted how a police officer had pulled him over on a busy thoroughfare. I can’t recall what my father’s infraction might have been, or if in fact he had broken any law at all. The point of my father’s story was what happened next. The policeman brazenly asked for a bribe, and my father refused. The officer was indignant. “All you retirees—you make more than us!” he said.

For a moment, the discussion turned more upbeat when another relative, a woman I hadn’t seen in years, mentioned that her son had found a job. But she went on to talk about all the young people in her neighborhood who weren’t so lucky. She listed their names, ticking them off on the fingers of her hennaed hands. “And whom do they blame for that?” I asked. “Well,” she said. “You know. Him.” Him was the king.

The next morning I caught a taxi, hoping to go downtown to the post office. The driver declined to take me there. He couldn’t stand the traffic, he explained; it was always hopelessly tied up because of sit-ins by unemployed university graduates or members of the February 20 Movement. I sent my mail from a different post office. Even at the hair salon around the corner from my parents’ house, there was no escape from the dissatisfaction. The radio was tuned to a talk show, and listeners were calling in to unload their frustrations about Eric Gerets, the extravagantly well-paid Belgian coach of Morocco’s national soccer team, which had just failed even to make the quarterfinals in this year’s Africa Cup. (His undisclosed salary is rumored to be in the neighborhood of $300,000 a month.)

There are many reasons for all this popular discontent. Of Morocco’s 32 million people, nearly 5 million are living below the poverty line. The unemployment rate, at 9 percent overall, is 16 percent among university graduates and as high as 30 percent for urban youths. To head off popular protests like those in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen, the king doubled food subsidies last year and raised salaries of police and other civil servants. Those moves are expected to raise this year’s budget deficit even higher than last year’s figure, which was 7 percent of GDP. Worse yet, a crushing drought seems likely to further hurt the economy, which is heavily reliant on agriculture. (The trade deficit is already at a record high because of the rising cost of wheat and energy imports.)

The economic crisis doesn’t seem to have affected the king. His wealth has doubled over the past five years, making him the world’s seventh-richest monarch, with a fortune estimated at $2.5 billion. As the journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi recently put it, King Mohammad is “the No. 1 businessman in the country”—the First Banker, the First Grocer, the First Landowner, and the First Farmer. In the end, the daily purchases made by Moroccans only make their king richer.

I returned to Casablanca for the anniversary of the February 20 Movement. There, a group of founding members had gathered with a few hundred other protesters to celebrate. The sky was bright, but the air was cold. As I struggled to shield my eyes from the sun and keep my hands warm, I couldn’t help noticing all the plainclothes police. They stood around the plaza, scowling at protesters and occasionally taking pictures. The protesters didn’t seem to care. They had broken up into smaller groups to listen to one speaker or another or to chat among themselves. Gone were the moderate demands of a year ago. Now one of the signs put it more bluntly: “Down with M6.” M6 is a nickname for King Mohammad, the sixth by that name.

Back in Rabat, my father and uncles had to complete a mountain of paperwork to settle A.’s affairs, so I offered to accompany two of my uncles to the local administrative district office. We drove past street corners heaped with trash. The city’s garbage collection had also been privatized, in favor of a French corporation that evidently didn’t have enough bins or enough employees to keep the streets clean.

We arrived at the district office and discovered that it was open only two days a week: Mondays and Fridays. The staff routinely spent the rest of the week on strike, protesting their low wages. This, we were told, had been going on for a year. Neither the administration nor the employees seemed amenable to changing their positions. But we were in luck: it was a Monday. We asked whether we could register my uncle’s death there. The answer was no. We were sent to a different district office.

At the second office, we found a line of people stretching all the way down the corridor outside the department in charge of recording deaths. New arrivals had to go inside and ask for a list of required documents before returning to join the line. There were exactly four chairs in the waiting room. The woman next to me was dressed in white, a sign of recent widowhood. The district office had made a mistake in the paperwork for her late husband, she told me, so now she had to redo it all, at her own cost, before his estate could be settled.

Two hours later, our turn in line finally came. One of my uncles stepped up to the civil servant’s desk and sat down, eager to begin the process. But, it turned out, this wasn’t the right district either.

As we made our way from one administrative office to another, I could see the frustration and injustice that ordinary Moroccans face every day. Despite the new Constitution and last November’s elections, the relationship of the ruler to the ruled has not changed. Whether it takes the face of a civil servant, a customs official, or a police officer, the government continues to dictate its will to the citizenry—not, as it ought to be, the other way around.

I left Morocco the following Thursday. I felt, as I always do, the piercing pain of departure. But this time the regret was compounded by grief—for my uncle, for my people, and for my country.

Laila Lalami is the author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits and Secret Son. She is currently an associate professor at the University of California, Riverside. Follow her on Twitter at:   For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at

Jews in Morocco: The Fez Pogrom of 1912
Sunday, April 01, 2012

This month the Jewish world will cite the one hundredth anniversary of one of the most painful events in the history of the Jews in Muslim lands - the "Tritel" – the pogrom in Fez, Morocco that occurred between April 17 and 19, 1912

The anger of the Arabs was aroused by the agreement between the French authorities and Sultan Malai Hafiz making Morocco a French protectorate. They saw this agreement as a betrayal and turned their anger against the Jews, the traditional scapegoat for their wrath. A rioting mob invaded the Jewish quarter of Fez, ransacked and destroyed it and murdered some of its residents. This barbaric scene resembled an apocalyptic vision. As a result 12,000 inhabitants of the Mellah fled, remaining homeless in dreadful need for weeks.

Beyond the loss of life and possessions the fires the Arab rioters set burned down synagogue treasures and ancient libraries. Shocking photographs documented the riots. They were published in newspapers throughout the world enraging the Jewish world more than the Damascus Blood Libel of 1840.

Unlike the Kichinev Pogrom, that occurred a few years earlier, the Tritel did not generate extensive literary creation. However it would be a mistake to think that the Jewish tragedy of Fez was erased by the prosperity that resulted from the Protectorate.

Paul Fenton, a professor at the Sorbonne, has made sure that the memory of these events be preserved, in a book that will appear this month, published by the Ben-Zvi Institute, Jerusalem. He points out that this traumatic event was a factor in the mass emigration of the Jews of Morocco after Moroccan independence.

The colonial policy of France led to a three-way conflict between the Christian West, the Muslim Maghreb and Moroccan Jewry. From the perspective of a century this painful episode may be observed objectively.

It reveals the cunning partnership between the French government and the Sutlan's court and the conduct of the Sultan, who did not hesitate to divert his people's anger against his weakest citizens - the Jewish minority. The hundredth anniversary of the Tritel will be commemorated at a two-day conference: at the Ben-Zvi Institute on April 16 and at the Dahan Center at Bar-Ilan University on the following day.

Morocco Islamist government faces first test: Rising prices, harsh drought
First Published: 2012-04-02
By Omar Brousky – RABAT

Government is facing dire economic times, caught between rising prices, slowing growth, harsh drought that has badly affected farming.

What about Benkirane’s campaign promises?
Morocco's new Islamist government, led by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, is facing dire economic times, caught between rising prices, slowing growth, and a harsh drought that has badly affected farming.

The nation's 33 million people also face high unemployment, a problem that has fanned social unrest, such as recent rioting in the northeastern town of Taza.

The Bank of Morocco last week lowered its estimate for growth this year to 3.0 percent, compared to 4.8 percent for 2011. "This growth rate is the result of the international economic situation and the slowdown among partner countries, including in the European Union," Finance Minister Nizar Baraka said for his part. He went on to warn that the country's budget would have to be revised.

France and Spain, whose economies are stagnating amid a spiralling debt crisis in the eurozone, are Morocco's two main trade partners.

Attracting foreign investment is also proving a challenge with both the EU and Gulf countries reducing exposure because of global economic uncertainty.

Morocco's public deficit last year reached 6.0 percent of gross domestic product, a record brought on in part by growing subsidies, notably on food, as the government sought to defuse a growing protest movement inspired by the Arab Spring.

A new government, headed by Islamists, took over late last year, but it too is now struggling in the face of financial woes. "The government has been caught out by the size of the problem. Its euphoric (electoral) campaign gave rise to widespread expectations. Now, they have to pay the price," economist Driss Benali said.

The government is finding it has little room for manoeuvre.

The rise in oil prices has severely hit the country's trade balance which in February was 3.0 billion euros ($4.0 billion) in the red, a figure nearly 30 percent worse than that registered in February 2011.

And the import of cereals could more than double this year compared to last because of a bad drought that has hit farming, according to a recent government report. Morocco might have to import more wheat in 2012-13 than ever before in half a century, the US Department of Agriculture said on March 20. Wheat imports of 3.2 million tonnes in 2011-12 could rise to 5.0 million tonnes over the coming year.

Agriculture accounts for about 17 percent of Morocco's gross domestic product, and employs nearly 40 percent the population, according to official statistics. To dampen growing protests last year, the state nearly doubled its spending on subsidies with these accounting now for nearly 20 percent of the government's budget. And the drought has led to higher food prices, with oil prices expected soon to follow suit.

Morocco has no oil, but is the world's main phosphate producer. Tourism and money transfers from Moroccans abroad account for the two other high foreign currency earners.

In a bid to boost the economy, the central bank has just announced an 0.25 point drop in its base rate to 3.0 percent. "The government has boosted expectations by buying social peace with some subsidies here, some pay increases there, and some broken promises. The cost is high," Benali said.

"It's an economic cycle crisis. While waiting for it to ease, the government must do more to fight corruption and the rentier economy," he added. Morocco came in a lowly 85th place in Transparency International's annual global ranking of corruption in 2010, behind China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid said this week that more than 4,000 cases of corruption came before Morocco's courts last year.

A family adventure in Fes: Three girls (and dad) travel to Morocco's most magical city
By Giles Milton 1 April 2012

Take three blonde girls, fly them to Morocco and lead them into the souks of Fes.

A smart idea from an adventure-loving father? Or a crazy plan likely to end in disaster?

It was time for a different sort of holiday. I'd first been to Fes on my gap year and returned on my honeymoon, bringing the new Mrs Milton to sample its treasures.

Now, it was the Big One: a family holiday in a city infamous for its hustlers, false guides, peddlers, crooks and carpet-selling uncles. So why come? Because Fes is the most exhilarating city you'll ever visit. It's a teeming, pulsating metropolis that has changed very little in its 1,200-year history.

Inside its crenellated ramparts, a staggering 300,000 inhabitants live, work and eke out a living. Many are experts in crafts that died out centuries ago in Europe. They include tanners, blacksmiths, potters and professional scribes. Each trade has its own quarter and the noises, sights and pungent smells assault your senses as you pass from one to the next.

'Are you sure it's safe?' asked my daughters as we embarked on our adventure. They knew all about last April's bomb in Marrakech, as well as the revolutions that have swept the Arab world. 'Safer than London,' I said, and I meant it.

The Arab Spring prompted largely peaceful protests in Morocco. The king is a widely respected figure of authority, while the mastermind behind the bombing has been sentenced to death and his gang is in jail.

But tourism was hit hard in the aftermath of the bombing. Hotels struggled and, while we were in Fes, few holidaymakers wandered the souks. We were almost the only visitors in the greatest medieval city in the Arab world. This was somewhat unnerving, because we stuck out like sore thumbs. With our pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, we'd have made convincing locals in Sweden. In Morocco, we didn't cut the mustard.

We arrived on a sweltering June evening and plunged straight into the heart of the old city. Our girls didn't know what had hit them: they were wide-eyed with astonishment. And with good reason. There are no cars, buses or taxis. The streets are so narrow and twisted that the only transport is by mule or donkey.

Forget looking for a Marks & Spencer or Gap. Instead, you find thousands of little stores scarcely larger than a cupboard, in which the owner is, as likely as not, chiselling away at a bowl he's hoping to sell you later.

We passed an aromatic spice stall with teetering piles of yellow turmeric and brick-red paprika. A merchant tried to sell us handbags and wallets. A stray cat got tangled under our feet. Someone was peddling tortoises. A child was stroking a chameleon.

'That's truly disgusting,' said Heloise, 13, as we passed a butcher's stand. There was not a cellophane-wrapped lamb chop in sight. Here, the meat is newly butchered - sometimes in front of your eyes. Three sheep heads were on display, a sign of the meat's freshness. Fifteen-year-old Madeleine was philosophical. 'At least we know it hasn't gone off,' she said

There's shouting, arguing and the call to prayer from one of the city's 300 minarets. And everywhere there are people - a constant, jostling crowd that seems to be going nowhere.

In recent years, many of Fes's 19th century mansions have become hotels (known as riads), oases of luxury. We had chosen Le Riad Maison Bleue, which has the bonus of a little pool in the central courtyard. This became our refuge when the blistering heat of the afternoon got too much to bear. We'd relax until 5pm, then head back into the souks for a refreshing glass of sweet mint tea.

Fes is a labyrinth on a grand scale. Forget GPS. Don't even bother with a map. Nothing leads to where you think it will. Endless hustlers try to 'help'. Ignore them all. We found a polite request for directions from a store-holder almost always got us back to where we wanted to be.

You'll need to get some sense of orientation, because Fes has a number of must-see sights.

The medieval tanneries, still in daily use, are the No1 attraction. In scores of giant vats, men are immersed to their waists in brilliantly coloured liquids and they tread the leather pelts until the colour is impregnated. 'It stinks,' was the comment from our youngest daughter. She was right: the tanneries do stink. The skins are cured in urine and pigeon dung so acrid that it burns your nostrils.

Among the city's most sumptuous sites is the nearby Glaoui Palace. In any other place in the world, this would be a major attraction - a rambling 19th century edifice that's dripping with oriental opulence. Yet here in Fes, it's not even (officially) open to the public. But as so often in Morocco, a loud rap on the door summons the guardian who - for a few dirhams - will show you around.

As the heat grew ever more intense, we hired a car and drove into the Middle Atlas mountains. Their contours start to rise from the arid plain 35 miles to the south of Fes and they offer an enticingly different climate.

The air cooled and the breezes freshened: soon, the countryside began to change. The hills surrounding the market town of Imouzer du Kandar were fringed with trees and the town was bursting at the seams with water. Two lakes, hundreds of springs and dozens of fast-flowing rivulets provide a natural freshness to the air.

We climbed higher, stopping at the bizarre ski-town of Ifrane. Locals call this Moroccan Switzerland with good reason. There may be no cuckoo clocks but there are gabled roofs aplenty. We pushed further south, climbing over a stack of barren mountains.

We had intended to return to Fes that afternoon, but the coolness of the air (and spectacular scenery) made us pause. We stopped in the Berber village of Ain Leuh and stumbled across the Auberge Le Magot de L'Atlas. 'Do you have any free rooms?' we asked the genial manager. 'They're all free,' he said. 'There's no one here. Take your pick.' We decided to sleep in the main salon, a room so decorative it looked set for a wedding.

We headed further south the following morning - encountering spectacular Barbary apes, a fantastic waterfall cut out of a gorge, and a huge, shimmering lake on the 'Route des Cedres' that we had all to ourselves - before we arrived back in Fes later that evening.

'Ah, my friends,' shouted stallholders, hustlers and guides as we jostled our way through the souk. 'You're back.'

It was a curious feeling. Everyone knew who we were; everyone wanted to be our friend. We had become instant celebrities. 'I wonder how they remember us,' said my youngest daughter Aurelia, who is nine. She looked at her sisters and me - all fair-haired and pink with sunburn - and let out a peal of laughter. 'I guess we don't really look Moroccan,' she said.
Read more:

Morocco: When a man speaks out about rape violence and its victims
Koulila Brahim - WNN Opinion Kénitra, MOROCCO

Rape has been among the most horrible crimes that a man can commit and one of the worst nightmares that can befall a girl or woman. No society is spared from this barbaric act, for rapists exist on every single spot on earth, and because men that consider women as sex objects exist everywhere, Still, we can say that rape as a phenomenon is more prevalent in some places than in others.

For instance, we all know that in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and many other African countries, the rate of rape is shockingly high. This is so because of factors such as war, illiteracy and poor enforcement of laws, among others. The way these countries handle rape differs from one place to another, according to religion, culture and law.

Still, a rapist should in the end be punished to deter others. It is really illogical that a rapist gets away with his crime. In some Arab countries, rapists are somehow rewarded for this horrific act; a victim is compelled to marry her rapist as a kind of ‘rehabilitation’, which sometimes, if not often, kills her twice. Amina Filali, a Moroccan girl (from Larache, a city in the north) has killed herself to escape the hell of her ‘husband’. She was compelled to marry her rapist according to article 475 of the Moroccan penal code.

Amina was killed twice. First, she was mercilessly raped by a Moroccan man in 2011; then she was forced to marry him as a kind of protection. It was her mother who got her father to accept the proposition that a judge had made. The latter had wanted to protect Amina by marrying her to her killer — he robbed her of the most precious thing an Arab girl has, virginity.

As such, Amina had to live with the person who had ruined her life. Ironically, the rapist did his best to force her into leaving his house by repeatedly beating her. Fortunately for him, Amina spared him the trouble. Living in rather miserable conditions, beyond a 16-year-old girl’s physical and mental capacities, she resorted to ingesting rat poison putting an end to her life on March 10, 2012.

Article 475 of the Moroccan penal code killed Amina. On what basis did the judge marry her to that monster? How are we protecting such a young girl by marrying her to her rapist? It was article 475, on which the judge relied, which killed her the second time. Moroccans are familiar with similar cases where a girl who has been raped has to marry the person who has violated her.

Although, I am not a jurist, I would say that this law—a lot of articles in the Moroccan penal code were borrowed from the French one—was adopted to kind of deter rapists and punish them by marrying their victims. As such, a person would have to marry a raped woman, not a virgin one, and then not enjoy a full marriage, as it were. I totally disagree with this article and with those who conceived it.

What deterrence is this, for God’s sake? To really deter a rapist the law should leave no rescue door, so to speak, for him. When we give him the choice to go to prison or marry the victim, we already let him get away with his (foul) crime. Worse, we reward him: anyone can marry the one he loves – who may not love him – by ripping her hymen and putting her family before reality.

Is not this article complicit in crimes of rape? This law is absolutely defective! It not only helps criminals get away with their crimes but also ruins the life of innocent girls. In other words, it closes the door to enabling the victims of rape, their parents, civil society make a rapist pay dearly for his crime. Incidentally, when families accept to marry their girls to their rapists, they deprive them of living decently. The rapist feels that his victim accepts to marry him because she has no alternative, which makes him bully her more.

This is exactly what happened to Amina. Her ‘husband’ maltreated her to take revenge for having been made to marry her, as if he were the victim.

Still, I cannot grasp the rationale behind this cursed and silly article. In Islam, as well as in the Moroccan family code, a judge has the right to make two people marry only when they are in agreement and like each other; otherwise he would be breaking one of the most important pillars of marriage, which is the consent of both parties.

If the judge had sent him to prison Amina might have gotten over her trauma, but compelling her to live with him could yield no result but what happened. The least thing that could have relieved her pain is seeing that monster behind the bars. Who told the judge and her family that she would feel comfortable with him? The poor girl could not revolt against her family– who, in turn condoned the crimes of the rapist and the judge – or against the law. She preferred to kill herself as would a rat be killed, creating  a huge polemic about the article and the whole case.

Nobody heeded civil society’s voice. It would be ungrateful to say that Moroccan civil society did nothing to bring to the forefront her case yet the government seems to not care a damn about it, except for the condemnation of its council, which remains a symbolic act.

What is shameful in her case is that the Moroccan Minister of Justice Mr. Mustapha Ramid rather underplayed Amina’s death, claiming that she had married her rapist willingly and that she had intercourse with him as the two had been having an affair. Actually, Mr. Ramid presented a very flimsy argument for the judge’s decision: he said that her father was the one who asked for marriage –to avoid ‘Chouha’ (scandal). Indeed, this was another factor that pushed her family to accept the “wise” proposition of the judge and made Amina put an end to her life.

Fear of scandal has made many ‘Aminas’ either live like slaves or commit suicide.

In Morocco, raped girls are considered a shame upon their families. One wonders how they can be considered as guilty as their rapists, but unfortunately this is widely common in some families – not only in Morocco – but in the Arab world in general.  Very often a raped girl’s family does their best to get rid of her as if she were rotten meat: they either compel her to marry her rapist himself or kind of ‘sell her’ to the first man who knocks on their door – who is any suitor, regardless of his social status. Such Moroccan families fear scandal and the sarcasm of their relatives, acquaintances, friends.

Amina was a victim of this prehistoric mentality. Instead of being defended she was flung into hell (compelled to live with a monster). In this respect, Mr. Tariq Ramadan, the great Swiss (of Egyptian origins) thinker and writer, while giving a lecture in Tangiers on March 24, could not but bring up her story, confirming that the article in question has nothing to do with Islam.

The case of Amina is, doubtless, extremely moving and one cannot but feel sorry for her killing herself. Still, it reminds us of how some people think when their daughters are raped.

Should not one in such a case sue the culprit and support the victim by all possible means? Did not Amina deserve to be treated as a victim of the barbarism of a monster who ripped her hymen? This poor girl was the victim of a barbaric act, but worse than that, she was the victim of a stupid law and a society, especially her family, still living in ‘benighted-ness’. If this case goes unnoticed, surely many ‘Aminas’ will suffer from the same treatment knowing that hundreds of similar cases happen each year without their victims being cared about.
Koulila Brahim is a Moroccan English teacher and essayist. He lives in Kénitra, Morocco, and he working at Mohamed V University in Agdal, Rabat. He obtained his M.A. (Studies in English language and culture) at Ibn Tofail University, Kénitra (Morocco) in 2010.  He is interested  in what is going on in Morocco, namely at the political and social levels.


2012 WNN – Women News Network
WNN encourages conversation. All opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of  WNN – Women News Network This article has been brought to you through an ongoing WNN partnership with Morocco World News . No part of this article release may be reproduced without prior permissions from WNN, MWN, or the author.

Moroccan woman Fulbright says American media sells women and violence.
Kaouthar Elouahabi  - WNN Opinion

United States: In the supposedly most democratic nation in the world women of all ages are suffering from the way they are looked at or treated. In other words, here in America women are defined by their ‘looks’ and their bodies rather than their minds. Arriella, a teenager in a U.S. high school, said that “there is no appreciation of woman intellectually; it is all about the body, not about the brain.”  This statement of a female high school student sums up all the suffering that girls in the U.S. in her age group experience when it comes to their body and how they look.

To accomplish this the media keeps sending messages to girls that the only value they can find in themselves is in their body. That is to say, it is assumed that men in America are implicitly associated with privilege and power; while women are described as emotional and weak personalities who are tied to sexual issues. Instead of making history and fostering values and ethics it seems the American media’s main objective is to make as much money as they can.

A very expressive and true statement from Alice Walker says, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any” and it helps us understand that power is meant to be possessed by every human being, male or female. Nowadays, there are many factors which cause American women to think of themselves only as ‘weak creatures.’

Fortunately my presence here in the US as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar has helped me a lot in approaching this issue. In fact as part of the cultural diversity in the American media course that I took here, I had the chance to attend an exclusive screening of a very interesting documentary film, “Miss Representation.” The film dealt with all the questions I had in mind concerning this issue. It also provided me with shocking facts, statistics and statements from a lot of people from different walks of life here in American society as it covered how American Media portrays and sees women.

The film also reveals that American teenagers spend more than 31 hours a week watching TV and more than 5 hours reading (entertainment) magazines. This is due to the type of content American media is delivering; a content which is also shaping society as a whole. Specifically it is shaping young people’s minds, brains and emotions.

“Miss Representation” states that women now represent 51 percent of the U.S. population. Yet women only make-up 17 percent of U.S. Congress. At this rate women may not achieve parity for another 500 years. In the media industry sector women make up only 3 percent of leadership positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising. In the political sector images of men enjoying their decision making positions is common and normal for Americans.

In terms of women being represented in national legislatures worldwide the U.S. is ranked in the 90 th position in the world after Cuba, China, Iraq and Afghanistan. This is crystal clear when the “Miss Representation” shows statistics about the amount of American money spent in advertising.

As a woman, I strongly believe that trying to objectify woman by focusing just on their physicality is the first step toward practicing violence against her. “This is all about capitalism: the exploitation of women’s bodies to sell products and magazines,” points out Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women, Lindy Dekoven. “They are creating a climate in which there is a widespread increase in violence against women,” she added.

As an urgent call, among other calls, to take a serious stand toward what is happening “Miss Representation” kept me wondering when it finished: “Is this (the true) America? Is this how American media treats its women? Women that are considered to be the main pillar in the development of society? Is this how it goes as the United States makes speeches to the rest of the world?”

I believe that media can be an instrument of change and can awaken people. Still, it depends on who is piloting the plane.

Kaouthar Elouahabi is a Moroccan national. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Linguistics from The Faculty of Letters in Tetouan, Morocco.  Getting her license to teach high school in Morocco, Elouahabi also graduated from the Regional pedagogical Center in Tangiers, Morocco. She is currently a FulbrightVisiting Scholar at the University of Idaho, USA teaching Arabic Language and culture. 
First edited by Benjamin Vilanti along with additional editing by WNN – Women News Network.

Moroccos leading energy event in October 2012
By Dominik Rzepka   April 4, 2012 Heidelberg, Germany
elec expo, EneR Event and Tronica Expo with France as Guest of Honour in 2012

Morocco records a double-digit growth with imports and exports of electro-technology and is attracting important investments in the renewable energy sector. These are decisive factors to develop from an energy importing to an energy exporting country. As Morocco's most important trading partner and investor, France will be Guest of Honour in 2012. The 7th elec expo, the 2nd EneR Event and the 1st Tronica Expo are scheduled to take place at the Casablanca International Fairgrounds – OFEC from 17 to 20 October 2012. This regional hub is organised by FENELEC, the Moroccan Federation of Electricity, Electronics and Renewable Energies, in close cooperation with the German trade fair specialists fairtrade and their Moroccan partners Forum 7.

About Fenelec: Based in Casablanca, the National Federation of Electricity, Electronics and Renewable Energies today counts more than 400 member companies, representing more than 95 % of products and services in the Moroccan energy, electrical engineering and electronics' sector. The staff of the member companies amount to more than 65.000. In 2011, the members' annual turn-over exceeded 5 billion Euros.
About fairtrade: Founded in 1991, fairtrade today is a leading organiser of highly professional international trade fairs in emerging markets. fairtrade has its headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany and maintains a powerful network of daughter companies, agencies and partnerships throughout the world. Being ISO 9001:2008 certified and a member of UFI The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, fairtrade organises events according to the UFI quality norms.
About Forum 7: Since 1987, the Casablanca-based agency Forum 7 has organised more than 80 events of major importance for Morocco and internationally, and is now the leading event organiser in Morocco – according to the Moroccan Association of Communication Agencies AACC. Forum 7 works within an international network of quality organisers.

The figures of ZVEI - the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association on electro-technology imports and exports reflect the rising exchange especially in this sector. Moroccan producers have increased their exports of electro-technology by 29.7% in 2010, to 1.906 billion Euros, compared with 1.470 billion Euros in 2009. In the same period, Moroccan imports rose by 16.1% to 2.931 billion Euros, after 2.524 billion Euros in 2009. France, China, Spain, Germany and Italy are the major supplier countries.

According to the Ernst & Young study "Renewable energy country attractiveness indices" of February 2012, Morocco attracts important investments in the renewable energy sector, especially for solar and for wind. On a global scale Morocco is ranked No. 9 together with France in solar, and No. 31 in wind. "Morocco being the only country linked to the European network has the opportunity to develop from an energy importing to an energy exporting country.”

According to the Moroccan Agency of Investment and Development (AMDI), Morocco becomes ever more important as a hub for integrated subcontractors outsourcing major parts of their operations to the Kingdom. This is especially true for subcontractors responsible for the design, industrialisation and the purchase of raw materials and components. Against this backdrop Tronica Expo 2012, the International Trade Fair for Electronic Components, Systems and Applications will be held for the first time in conjunction with elec expo and EneR Event, which have been rewarded with the UFI Approved Event status in February 2012.

France will be the Guest of Honor in 2012. This has been agreed between UBIFRANCE - the French Agency for International Development and the organisers. “Without any doubt this event helps to further develop the economic and commercial ties between our two countries” underlines Henri Baissas, Directeur Général Adjoint and Directeur des Opérations at UBIFRANCE. “UBIFRANCE will organise the participation of France as the official Guest of Honor in cooperation with CFCIM – the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Morocco. I like to thank the organisers for the opportunity of highlighting the French know-how as the official Guest of Honor in 2012.”
In 2011, 5,246 registered trade visitors from 52 countries and 213 exhibitors (+88%) from 18 countries discussed business. FENELEC’s president Mr Youssef Tagmouti is quite confident to continue the success story of Morocco’s and Africa’s major energy, electrical engineering and electronics event in 2012.

The kindness of strangers: An invitation to Passover meal leads to Moroccan feast
By Peggy Wolff, Special to Tribune Newspapers
April 4, 2012  FEZ, Morocco

Morocco had not yet invited us in.

We were two Americans traveling through Morocco, no tour, no guide, my daughter Zoe and me in the back seat of a wild-man driver who aimed to pass every car in front of us for the nine hours from Marrakech to Fez. He swerved, he sped, he called it magnificent driving. "Driving safe is like art," he bragged. "You know? Like painting."
We slid down low in the rear seat and, thanks to Zoe's iPod and episodes of "This American Life," sweated out the ride.

Landing in a city with no discernible center of town, where the main roads were slivered like alleys and the alleys were nothing but halved sidewalks, we dodged stray cats and clusters of smokers with live rabbits for sale. We took refuge in doorways when scooters fumed by.

This made it all the more unusual, and so all the more uplifting, to receive a call the following morning at our hotel from a woman who invited us to her home. It was Passover, and we had no plans.

The caller was Danielle Mamane, Sephardic cookbook author of "The Scent of Orange Blossoms." Weeks before, I'd emailed her co-author, Kitty Morse, to see if Kitty still led culinary tours of her homeland. She did not. But that's how Danielle knew we were American Jews traveling to Fez, and that we were staying at Riad Le Calife. I'd never met either woman.

Although she was hosting 18 for a second night Seder that evening, Danielle said how rude it'd be to know there were Jews here in Fez, sent by Kitty Morse, and though it was such a busy day of the year she just had to invite us, even if it was for lunch. "And don't bring anything."

A Moroccan host prepares all the food. There is no potluck meal — my custom at home — so Danielle hired extra help for the day.

Her wildly printed blouse and large black glasses are still etched in my mind. As well, the tidy salon where she served glasses of mint tea with orange blossoms and platters of sauteed fava beans sprinkled with a pinch of cumin, a characteristic spice of North Africa.

This was a Sephardic home. The Jews from Spain, Portugal and the Middle East permit eating beans during the holiday but the Ashkenazic Jews do not. They are strict about legumes because they puff up and grow when water is added to them. The table was set for seven: Danielle's husband, Jacques, and their daughter Helene, who had come from Paris with her 3-year-old and 8-year-old. And us. The air was drenched with the aroma of freshly picked orange blossoms.

A dozen little tastes made me fall for this lunch: Egg souffle with spinach and herbs. Baba ganoush. Tomatoes with lemon, beets, cucumber, carrots and lettuce. A phrase from our Haggadah ran through my mind: It would have been enough. But an entree followed. Meatballs with the gradually unfolding distinct taste of liver. A side of peas and carrots. Matzo from Holland.

The cake with poppy seeds was smothered with candied oranges that were pressed and flattened, cooked with pounds of sugar until a dark amber syrup was released. Bittersweet, my weakness.

Our conversations skidded through how we teach Hebrew to talk about modernist cuisine. They wondered, did we like molecular gastronomy? Why shouldn't food look like it is? What is meatloaf? CSAs (community supported agriculture)? You guarantee the farmer his income? What's a cookie sheet? Oh, and what is Spandex?

And so it went for the next three hours. Strangers from two continents forging a new friendship, crystallizing what it is that makes traveling and the kindness of strangers so memorable.

Moroccan meatballs

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Servings: 8, about 40 meatballs

Note: This recipe, adapted from chef Ayelet Danino, comes from her Moroccan mother-in-law. You can grind the liver in a food processor (or use 2 pounds ground beef if you prefer to omit the liver).

5 to 7 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 ounce chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 pound ground calf's liver
3/4 cup matzo meal
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup water
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon each: paprika, ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil

1. For the sauce, cook the garlic in the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, 1 minute. Add bouillon cubes, crushing them in the pot. Add chili powder and the paprikas. Add tomato puree, water and salt. Heat to a boil; lower heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer while preparing meatballs.

2. For the meatballs, combine beef, liver, matzo, parsley, onion, water, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, turmeric and cinnamon in a bowl, mixing with your hands. Add eggs; blend well. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls.

3. Heat about 1/4 cup oil in a skillet; brown meatballs, in batches without crowding. Gently slip meatballs into simmering sauce. Cook, partially covered, over low heat until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is thick, 45 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 360 calories, 18 g fat, 5 g saturated fat , 123 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrates, 27 g protein, 1903 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.


These postings are provided without permission of the copyright owner for purposes of criticism, comment, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and it may not be distributed further without permission of the identified copyright owner.  The poster does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the message, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Return to Friends of Morocco Home Page

About Membership Volunteer Newsletters Souk Links