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Morocco Week in Review 
July 13, 2012

Morocco: Ethics of Photographing The Locals
DEREK WORKMAN 07/08/12

Derek Workman, goes for a stroll in the mountains and muses over the ethics of photographing local people.
I took my daily walk into the mountains this morning, up from Imlil on the steep path past the cascades and through Armed, the highest village in the valley. Being almost totally out of practice with mountain walking it doesn’t take me long to get short of breath on the steeper climbs – I blame the altitude as a way of covering up how out of shape I am – and it’s even more discouraging when a heavily-pregnant girl in her late teens skitters past me over the large rocks, wearing only flip-plops on her feet, while I’m fully kitted out in stout hiking boots.

I felt the same when I took the reverse route a few days ago with Rachid, one of the guides who lead the daily walk from the Kasbah du Toubkal. There I was in boots, shorts, floppy hat to keep the sun off and a small back-pack for my camera and water. There he was in a pair of slim-cut jeans, leather thong sandals, and a leather blouson with Gucci written across the back, for all the world as if he was just nipping out to the shops. Which is actually all the same for him, because he’s been walking these mountains for years, and what is for me a bit of a trek is just a gentle stroll for him. But today I was alone, as I am most days, and thoroughly enjoy the peace, my own pace, and the ability to be able to stop when I want and take twenty photos of the same view if I wish without feeling I’m holding anyone up.

You usually get a “Bon jour” or “Ça va?” as you walk through the villages, and the invitation to look into someone’s shop in the hope that you will buy a souvenir. I always “Bon jour,” back or “Ça va bien, merci,” or occasionally, if I’m feeling particularly forward I’ll offer a “Salam aleikum,” as I pass someone. Sometimes, though, it’s just nice to walk through a village as unobtrusively as possible, glancing at a group of young boys kicking a football around, or even younger ones splashing in the irrigation channels – girls tend to be much more secretive and closed in in their games – trying not to be too obviously a foreigner, pretty impossible given the kit most walkers wear, but at least being respectful and not making a racket.

It’s the time to harvest the grass that will feed the mules and cattle during the winter. The ‘fields’ in which most of the crops grow almost deserve the cliché of calling them ‘handkerchief-sized’, because some of them are no more than fifteen meters square, and often tucked into a barely accessible space between the rocks in the side of a hill that has been cleared to create a tiny pasture. It’s the same with the fruit and vegetables grown here. A few apple and a couple of cherry trees with space between them for potatoes, corn, and whatever vegetables the grower prefers, layered out in tiny terraces.

The grass is scythed by hand, and when cut it will usually be left in the field for a few days for some of the moisture to evaporate. Water weighs heavy, and when everything has to be strapped to your back you keep the weight as light as possible to save on steep climbs up and down the mountainside. Almost all the harvesting is done by women, from girls in their teens to matriarchs of four generations. These ladies are literally bent double as the carry the enormous bundles of grass from the fields to the village, where it will be laid out on flat roof tops and any open space and left for a month to dry out
thoroughly before being tied in loose bails and stored.

This really is hard labour, but as with most toil there are the occasional lighter moments. You’ll hear the ladies bantering between themselves as they carry their bundles, sometimes stopping for a rest on steeper slopes and having a chat. Hard as it is, in the closed confines of rustic Moroccan life, the harvest is one of the few times that women can get together, other than major celebrations such as weddings or visits to the village hammam, if the village is lucky enough to have one, so the chance for a bit of a chin-wag is never missed.

A couple of days ago I was struggling up the steep climb from Imlil to the Kasbah in the early evening, no-one and nothing to disturb the peace but the sound of my feet on the track and my gasping for breath. I lifted my eyes from the ground in front of me and saw an elderly lady standing up straight, with her enormous bundle of hay, still strapped to her back, resting on a convenient waist-height rock behind her. She was the absolute picture-perfect image of everyone’s rosy-cheeked granny, the one they wished they’d had and not the bad-tempered old grump they’d inherited. She was dressed in layers of brightly colored clothes with her hijab perfectly framing her beatific smile. As clichéd as it might seem, it was a perfect image, which it would be very easy to destroy by saying that the totally ignored me by looking the other way. But she didn’t, she turned her lovely smile on me, gave a barely noticeable nod of her head, raised her hand in a friendly salute, then turned her head away to continue her peaceful gaze down the valley.

As I left Armed this morning, I sat on rock to take a drink of water. Striding purposefully toward me from my left I saw a woman in the characteristic pose of someone bringing in the harvest, bent double under her enormous load. My camera was in my bag, which was open because I’d just taken out my notepad to make a few notes. I quickly poked the lens through the zip opening and hoped I’d be able to get a shot as she came towards me, a random possibility and very rarely successful. While I was setting it up a young man in a clean white shirt and dark grey trousers passed me, coming from my right. As the woman approached she had obviously seen the camera and quite possibly heard the lens click in its rapid movement because she began to shout and wave her free hand. Feigning innocence I held up my pen and notepad to indicate that I was only writing something.

About a year ago I met Alan Keohane, a brilliant photographer who has lived in Morocco for many years and spent long periods living with and photographing the Berber people. He asked me how I would feel if someone walked into my house unannounced and suddenly started taking photos, or lifted a camera and started shooting away while I was walking past in my scruffy working clothes. I’d hate it, and so would most people, but that’s what we think we can do simply because we are on holiday and want some ‘interesting’ snaps to show the folks back home.

I thought of Alan’s words when I checked my camera to see what the photo was like. Totally contrary to ninety-nine percent of photos taken this way, it was almost exactly what I would have taken had I been able to pose the shot; the working lady struggling under her heavy load as a smartly-dressed young man passes by her, going in the opposite direction, against a background of a barren river-bed and the rugged High Atlas Mountains. I felt ashamed of myself that for the sake of a photograph I had invaded someone’s privacy at a time when they would probably have least wanted the photo taken, making a human being look like nothing more than a pack animal. It was too late to apologize to the lady, but at least I could show a bit of belated respect.

Derek Workman,  who is an English journalist living in Valencia City, Spain – although he admits to a love of Morocco and would love to up sticks and move here. To read more about life in Spain visit  Spain Uncovered . Articles and books can also be found at  Digital Paparazzi. Article Previously published by  View From Fez
http://www.moroccoboard.com/viewpoint/382-derek-workman-/5653-morocco-ethics-of-photographing-the-locals
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Morocco's Drought Threatens Economic Growth
LAHCEN ACHY

According to the latest forecasts, economic growth in Morocco will not exceed 2.5 percent this year. The culprit is poor weather conditions that have hit the country’s agricultural sector. Morocco did indeed experience a wave of extreme cold during the first months of the cropping season, followed by a drought that has persisted until now. These expectations, if realized, would represent a setback for the government led by the ruling Justice and Development Party, which had promised its voters 7 percent growth, later revised to 5.5 percent under the government program to which it committed itself, and which won it the trust of its allies in the parliamentary majority. The JDP subsequently proceeded to further revise its estimate of anticipated growth, reducing it to 4.2 percent during the presentation of this year’s draft budget.

While the ruling party is in no way responsible for adverse weather conditions, it is still responsible for promises made first to voters, then to the elected representatives in Parliament. From the start these promises seemed too optimistic, especially as the phenomenon of drought has become more prevalent in recent years, with no part of the country able to escape its scourge. In this context, studies have shown that in the past two decades, one out of every two years on average has been marked with drought. This is contrasted with one out of every eleven years at the beginning of last century, and one out of every seven during the 1960s.

Accounting for 15 percent of the GDP and 40 percent of all employment, the agricultural sector in Morocco is highly volatile and dependent on climatic conditions. In fact, only 15 percent of the country’s lands are irrigated, while the rest are rain-fed crops. Almost three quarters of arable land is devoted to the cultivation of cereals. Most farmers possess limited lands that do not justify investment in new technologies. Indeed, seven out of ten farmers have no more than 2.1 ha. of land and struggle with frequent drought, in the absence of any appropriate protection mechanisms.

Moroccan farmers have adopted a number of strategies to cope with drought, depending on their level of income. For wealthier families, the strategy revolves around the level of consumption of stored grains and the sale of small animals such as sheep and goats, in addition to subsidies from the state. The strategy of poor families combines borrowing money with work beyond the farm, as well as potentially selling cattle or leasing their land. However, these latter strategies may be costly in the long run and prevent poor families from improving their financial situation. Indeed, when poor families sell their assets in drought years, this limits their productivity in good seasons to come, in turn trapping them in the vicious circle of poverty.

The expected decline of the agricultural sector's contribution to growth in Morocco has numerous repercussions for economic and social development. Thus, drought directly affects the level of grain production which is the essential ingredient in the diet of Moroccan families, particularly middle- to low-income families. However, imports of considerable quantities of grain to meet domestic demand will worsen the trade deficit — which has already reached record levels in recent years — and further deplete hard currency reserves, already unable to cover more than five months of imports, compared with nine months two years ago.

Given the global rise in prices of this staple, the state will be forced to increase the budget allocated for grants so as to avoid undermining the purchasing power of citizens, only serving to widen a budget deficit that topped 7 percent during the past year. High oil prices on world markets make this scenario even more likely, especially given that budget preparations were based on an average of $95 USD per barrel, while the current price exceeds $105 USD.

Clearly, the agricultural policy of previous governments is largely responsible for the negative impact of drought on farm incomes and the national economy in general. Indeed, for many decades, successive governments have persisted in implementing hasty and costly programs in order to mitigate the impact of drought on affected farmers, without introducing any effective policy to reduce the vulnerability of the agricultural sector or mitigate the heavy exposure to risk resulting from successive seasons of poor rains. Although the drought in Morocco is a structural phenomenon that requires a vision and a plan, officials continue to regard it as a circumstantial and even exceptional situation.

The Moroccan government has granted a number of incentives to reclaim agricultural land, to buy farm equipment and add value to agricultural products. It even grants subsidies to air exports of fruits, vegetables, flowers and decorative plants. Total agricultural subsidies in the State’s general budget have reached the equivalent of $200 million USD. Most of these incentives, however, are not directed at the poor. Instead, they mainly benefit rich farmers, given that income generated from agricultural activity between 1980 and 2013 is exempt from all forms of taxation.

If the government is serious about increasing economic growth in a sustainable manner, it should introduce an ambitious agricultural policy, with a medium and long term strategy that acknowledges climate variations and a constant shortage of water as permanent, structural conditions, rather than exceptions to the rule. This policy must also take the interests of small farmers into account, as part of an inclusive vision for Morocco.
http://www.moroccoboard.com/viewpoint/101-lahcen-achy/5654-morocco-s-drought-threatens-economic-growth
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Moroccan women's rights groups cry foul.
By Mohamed Saadouni 2012-07-12

Organisations call for a government apology for sole female minister's "attempts to defame rights and women's associations". Moroccan activists and women's rights groups have been calling for reform of a law that allows rapists to escape conviction by marrying their victim.

Solidarity, Women and Family minister Bassima Hakkaoui last May surprised them when she reportedly said during a meeting with Justice and Development Party (PJD) legislators that "the issue of child sexual abuse has been politically exploited by associations, which have greatly harmed Morocco's image abroad".

In response to Morocco's most visible example of this, the Amina Filali case, where a 16-year-old rape victim killed herself with rat poison to escape her marriage to the man who raped her, the minister said: "marriage of underage girls must be subject for discussion… because many advanced countries allow girls to marry at the age of 14".

Hakkaoui also lost favour among the groups after she responded to a statement from the Democratic League for Women's Rights (LDDF) about Morocco's retraction of reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). She described it as "irresponsible", "confused between outdated and preconceived ideas", and with language of "poor standard". "When there is just one approach, it is, unfortunately, adopted… which, as ministers, we can't carry on with," Hakkaoui said, explaining that as an MP she was able to represent the people without the responsibilities she now has with the government.

On July 6th, Hakkaoui announced during a Tamkine management committee meeting that she had been working in co-operation with the United Nations and Spain on a bill that would contain the "most severe" punishment for acts of violence against women to "ensure that it will never happen again".

Women's rights organisations have lined up to express their dissatisfaction with Hakkaoui's remarks over the past months. The LDDF demanded the government "hold the minister institutionally accountable for her provocative, negative discourse against the functions and activities of associations that protect and promote rights and contribute to democratic development". LDDF President Fouzia Assouli accused Hakkaoui of what she described as "attempts to defame rights and women's associations… as if they were serving foreign agendas, and not concerned with the interests of country".

The group condemned the minister's statements as showing "a rigid mentality that doesn't believe in the role of civil society in democratic development", adding that the minister reflects "the close-minded trend that believes in only one voice". "It wants associations to collude and hide violations and abuses against women's rights and human rights in general," the LDDF said.

Moroccan Women's Democratic Association chief Khadija Rabah said in a statement to Magharebia that the minister's statements "are irresponsible" and that they "harm, rather than serve, the minister's career". "Women's associations are not an opponent to the minister who should direct her attention to issues that harm children and women because she is the one who oversees this sector, rather than blame the associations that are doing their job," she told Magharebia. "The minister should have thanked and appreciated the work of these associations which unveil our sick reality," she added.

Bayt Al Hikma (House of Wisdom) president Khadija Rouissi condemned the government's failure to issue an explanatory statement, correction or apology for the minister's statements. "I would like to say to the minister that the world has become a small village," Rouisi told Magharebia. "With this technological revolution and the Arab Spring, nothing can be hidden." "What is the government's position on these issues if the minister, who is the only woman in government, is against the exposure of violations against children and women?" she wondered.

For its part, Touche Pas à Mon Enfant (Don't Touch My Child) also condemned the minister's statements and urged the government to intervene and reinstate the proper image of these associations that are working to disclose the diseases of society so as to protect women and children.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane on June 16th expressed frustration with Hakkaoui and other members of the ruling party, saying: "We have helped these people reach the positions they would never have attained without our help." "We need you to stop attacks from within. I cannot evade both the bullets that I get from the outside and the ones that I get from within the party," he said.
http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/07/12/feature-02
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Morocco implements anti-crime strategy.
By Siham Ali 2012-07-11

As parliament focuses on domestic crime, Interior Minister Laenser reassures the public that a plan is in place. Morocco is placing the issue of domestic crime on its priority list after MPs called for an all-encompassing approach to curb the problem and deal with youth unemployment.

"Forty per cent of young people aged between 15 and 34 are unemployed," Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) MP Ahmed Reda Chami, said. "Some are committing crimes."

The country needs a strategy that will deliver not only adequate human resources to maintain security, but also jobs, he pointed out, calling for co-operation between different governmental departments to reduce crime. Interior Minister Mohand Laenser said that crime stems from both social problems, such as poverty and unemployment, and religious issues, such as extremism.

Crime in Morocco has affected many members of the public, which raises security concerns in large and medium-sized cities.

Rachida Selhami, 28, was mugged twice close to her home, in broad daylight. "The first time was six months ago. A young man who couldn't have been more than 19 accosted me and threatened me by holding a knife to my throat. He took my bag and ran off. It was only 4pm and the street was full of people. No one noticed anything," she told Magharebia.

"The second time was two months ago. Two men in their thirties threatened me with a sabre just after I got off a bus. One of them even insisted that I go with them. I feared the worst. Luckily, my tears made them think twice. They just took my bag and the jewellery that I was wearing", she said tearfully.

Hanaa Garnaoui, 22, was attacked while waiting for a bus at a station: "I was waiting for the bus with two other girls and a young man. My attacker pointed his weapon at me and took everything I had while the other people watched passively. He even criticised me for working when he was unemployed. This awful incident has left me traumatised and I don't go out on my own anymore."

Although some cases of violence have occurred, people should not be alarmed, according to the interior minister. An emergency plan is being put together that involves the use of new technologies and the deployment of community police officers. The resources implemented as part of the 2008-2012 five-year plan have enabled the security services to step up their efforts to tackle crime and helped to prevent deterioration in security across all Moroccan regions, he said.

More than 500,000 cases were investigated in 2011. Over 85% were solved and the offenders were arrested very quickly, according to official figures. "We are continuing to implement an integrated strategy aimed at ensuring that people feel safe, in particular by increasing the presence of security officers on public roads so that they can prevent crime and deter would-be offenders," Laenser said.
http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2012/07/11/feature-02
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My Trip to Morocco and My Story with Abandoned Children.
By Nora P. Goodman Morocco World New Portland, Oregon, July 14, 2012

In June of 2008 I visited the lovely country of Morocco. To my surprise, although the country itself was beautiful, I wasn’t prepared for the obvious injustice I saw towards children.

While I was in Rabat making a money exchange at a local bank; there I saw a young boy sitting on the ground in front of the bank begging. It was obvious he had been severely burned on his face and was in shock and needed immediate medical attention. His face looked like melted flesh. My immediate response was to rescue him. I began yelling to my friend Saeed “Oh My God, how can the government allow this to happen?” Saeed told me to calm down and not make a scene and pulled me away with my tears. However, I felt a strong pull inside of me to do something. During my two-week visit in Morocco I saw many children begging on the streets. It was obvious this sort of tragic display was very common in Morocco and other developing countries, where people use children for their financial gain for survival and out of desperation.

That night I had difficulty sleeping. I finally dozed off from crying myself to sleep while praying and asking God to intervene. I was haunted by the boy’s face. The next day I had to go back to the USA. I begged my friend to check on the boy, but somehow I knew he wouldn’t. He was too casual about the situation as if he was immune to it.

I boarded Air France Airlines and sat by the window. I began writing in my journal about my sorrow, and the boy’s face remained in my mind. The thought of going back to the USA without doing anything to help him was pure agony. A few moments passed and a local Moroccan woman sat next to me. She asked very politely how my stay in Morocco was. I shared with tears in my eyes about how lovely the country was but…then I told her the story about the boy. She smiled and said, “You have sat next to right person.”  She laughed at my response. I must have grabbed her arm with relief.  She said she was part of an organization that helped to rescue street kids and work with the families to educate them. God had sent an angel that day. Although we exchanged personal information, we lost contact.  I never knew if the boy was rescued.  But I was relieved to know there were people trying to help the street kids.

In April of 2009, I decided to go back to Morocco and help a village government school in Terema, I knew one of the teachers that worked there and I had compassion for his dedication to the children and their families. Mohammed worked long hours with low pay and little supplies in a school where we Americans would consider neglect and non-compliant to our Government rules and regulations.

I was a director of a private school in Milwaukie, Oregon, with many middle class families, so when the families heard about my desire to help the children in the village they began to donate clothing and money for the school supplies.  In just a few months, I gathered many children’s clothes, candy, toys and some supplies, and I planned to purchase the rest of the supplies after I arrived in Morocco since the required school supplies were different than in the USA.

The day finally came when I arrived back in my favorite country Morocco. I rested a day from my flight and the time change. I couldn’t wait to begin my journey to the school. I purchased the school supplies from local shops. The shop owners laughed and were surprised when I wanted to purchase ninety notebooks at 20 cents apiece, but soon showed me respect when my translator told them what they were for. My friend Mohammad, one of the teachers at the school made arrangements for me to visit the school on a beautiful April morning. He picked me up and drove me down the dusty dirt roads that many of the students walked for miles to get to the school. I watched students hop on the back of farm trucks to catch a ride. We drove past many farms and several shacks and cottages along the four mile dusty road. After several minutes of traveling the dirt road from the main highway we finally made it to the Temera Government School.

When I arrived, Mohammad took me to a little room where there was a table prepared for my welcoming. It was nicely decorated with pastries and the famous Moroccan mint tea. I was very honored as the teachers served me and shared their stories and feelings about what they called “The Forgotten School.” They shared that often time’s three brothers shared one pencil to do their homework and there was not enough school supplies or materials to accurately teach their students. As I looked around I saw holes in the walls that were made for electricity but the job was never finished. I saw no running water and many windows were broken. I later gave these teachers the title “Hero’s”

Mohammad took me to the first class of a combined kindergarten and 1 st graders.  As I entered into the class the students stood up from their desk to greet me. I was humbled and honored and tears came instantly in my eyes. Mohammad introduced me while Saeed passed out the supplies. I stood back to take pictures and watch the expressions on the children’s faces. They looked rather puzzled as if they were wondering who this ladies was.

As I went to each class the children continued to stand up as I entered and I continued to be humbled by this respectful way of welcoming a foreigner to their school. In the USA this would only be done after a speech or an award. The parents were very grateful for all the clothes and asked the teachers to thank me. They expressed their drastic need and asked me for more help.

As I was leaving the school, many children came up to me with big smiles and big brown eyes wanting their picture taken with me.

As I drove down the dirt rode many ran after the car waving good bye. This was a very humbling experience, an experience that would stick with me for the rest of my life.

During the last few days before I went back to the USA, I decided to get some souvenirs from an outdoor plaza called the “Old Medina”. It was located in the heart of the city of Rabat. I saw a crippled boy in a wheel chair sitting in the hot sun by the entrance. He appeared to be by himself begging. It was obvious someone had left him there.

This time I asked Saeed to translate while I investigated. I found out his name was Mustafa. His leg was green and looked as if it had been chopped off and was swollen with gangrene. It had a bad odor and it was obvious he needed medical attention. While we were talking to him, a Moroccan woman approached us with a friendly smile. I questioned her with the help of Saeed and she explained that she had already tried to get him medical attention, but the doctors had done all they could to help him. I wasn’t convinced.

This time I was not willing to give up so easily since I had a few days left before going home. I ask Saeed to speak to our friend Driss who worked for a local hospital and the next day Driss came to examine the boy. We found out the woman wasn’t Mustafa’s mother, but she had been using Mustafa to travel from city to city to beg for money. Medical attention was given to Mustafa and the woman was questioned by social services for further investigation.

I learned a lot about the desperation of Morocco from visiting the Temera village school to intervening with the two boys being used for begging. I learned that there are people that care, they just need someone to bring it to their attention. It appeared to me that these people were accustomed to seeing this kind of things on a daily basis that they didn’t seem to be affected by it. I, on the other hand, was not accustomed and needed to intervene.

I went back to Morocco in 2010, only this time I brought my son with me. This time we visited Essouria and did not witness any begging where crippled children were being used abused. We did interact with many street kids and fed them whenever they ask for food. We can’t help all of them but we can help one child at a time.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47945/my-trip-to-morocco-and-my-story-with-abandoned-children/
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Marriage in Morocco: Moral Values, Materialism and the Hypocrisy of Society
By Omar Bihmidine Morocco World News Sidi Ifni, Morocco, July 13, 2012

“Even marriage itself as a noble institution has not escaped social hypocrisy,” I said to myself the other day. Wherever I go in Morocco, I notice couples being either victims or beneficiaries of social hypocrisy in marriage. Fortunately, Islam already condemns this, and this is exactly what makes me more self-confident about what I am thinking.

When one’s position in life speaks on proposal day, be sure that this is a sign of social hypocrisy. When one’s physical appearances speak on the same day, be certain that social hypocrisy is there. When one’s money talks on the same day, make sure that the same social problem is taking its roots. It all revolves around social hypocrisy. Needless to say, there are exceptions.

In Morocco, there are many rich families who have pretty girls inside their homes. But, why is it extremely rare that poor suitors do not knock on their doors to ask for one of the pretty girl’s hand? Simply, because they know the answer is no and that there is no need to be put in an embarrassing situation. They also feel hesitant about taking the initiative to go and propose at a time when the fittest suitors are usually the ones to succeed in procuring the pretty of the prettiest.

If some of these poor suitors happen to insist on having one of the pretty girls as a wife, the rich families of the girls usually prevaricate by saying that the girls are still too young to marry or that they still have to study. Is there any social hypocrisy here? Surely, there is. While such families hold that a real husband in a girl’s life is the one that is well behaved, morally good, responsible and caring in all respects, they can not bear seeing their daughters married to poor husbands.

If you ask any girl of today about the man of her dreams, she, just as her peers, will tell you that he is the one that cares, that loves truly, that assumes responsibility and that shows maturity. Yet, once a proposal day comes, and an extremely unattractive suitor who owns all these traits asks for the pretty girl’s hand, she can not help considering the man’s beauty and hesitates to say either yes or no. So, looks matter even if many think it is in the eye of the beholder.

Without beauty, all these traits no longer mean anything to the pretty girl. Anyway, it is human nature to lean towards beauty as a blessing. Beauty isn’t usually raised on the day of marriage so as not to embarrass any partner, but everyone feels it. And when a partner refuses the other on the basis of beauty, they by implication show social hypocrisy, especially that beauty, many believe, is not the key to a successful married life. Since it is not the key, I wonder why many partners still cling to it?

Many rich Muslim families stress that one’s position in life doesn’t matter, and what matters for them, instead, is one’s comportment, one’s religiosity, and one’s morals. Notwithstanding, when a very poor suitor with an unstable income knocks on the door of these families to ask for their daughter’s hand, they usually are hesitant, expressing their fear about the future of the girl. But, doesn’t the prophet teach them that the trait of being Muslim and morally good suffices for them to accept the proposal?

In fact, they find the prophet’s advice hard to apply, and this is what has led many to prefer rich suitors for their daughters before even thinking about the criterion comportment. In Moroccan society, where prices rise unexpectedly, rich families, whether conservative or not, most of the time, decline the poor person’s proposal.

In a society where wealthy suitors can offer what the poor suitors can not, rich Muslim families feel compelled to be realistic and go on to prefer rich suitors over poor ones for their Muslim daughters. To some extent, they are hypocritical in that the values they have fought for in their lives run contrary to the materialism they have fallen prey to.

Another sign of social hypocrisy in marriage is that if offered the opportunity to get married, poor girls, unlike rich ones, hasten to accept the proposal for fear that luck might strike once. It must sadden us that only a few girls get married on the basis of the principle of true love.

In a society where spinsterhood is becoming more rampant, girls, especially poor and unattractive ones, hasten to say ‘yes’ to any suitor, be he poor or rich, morally good or morally bad. Setting conditions on the part of these marginalized girls in society is very rare. In my opinion, they no longer choose marriage; it is marriage that chooses them instead, and imposes itself at the spur of the moment in spite of themselves.

In our society, sometimes, we spot couples who married because they once felt obliged to and feared to face spinsterhood, a nightmare for the majority of girls. At other times, we spot couples who married because they truly love each other truly, not necessarily because one of them is rich and the other is poor, but because they are all born to rich families and they are all attractive to each other.

When we abide by the conventions of society, which is social hypocrisy, then the rich continue to marry the rich, the poor continue to marry the poor and the attractive continue to marry the attractive. When we, however, break the conventions in question, we either live a true love story or die in misery. Frankly, nowadays, breaking these conventions is daring. Only those who dare to live a real love story or die in misery can do it.
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47846/marriage-in-morocco-moral-values-materialism-and-the-hypocrisy-of-society/
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Amazigh or Arab: keep tolerance
By Rachid Madani Morocco World News Casablanca, June 13, 2012

One of the issues that attracts a lot of debate in Morocco when brought into conversation is “Tamazight.” This debate ranges from questions of race, identity, culture, to alphabets in which the language should be written in, and the right of “Amazigh” people to hear and use their language in public administrations as well the use of “Tamazight” in Moroccan schools.

“Tamazight” will always be a complicated subject because it is a vital element of the Moroccan identity. As with any controversial subject, everyone tackles these issues from a different angle and defends his point of view while sometimes ignoring the other’s side of the argument. The debate intensifies between “Arabs” and “Amazighs” when both sides come together. Sometimes this ends in conflict. Everyone tries to intimidate the opposing side and exclude his right of existence particularly when they enter discussions involving race. Debates often also flare up around the questions of where people are from and who has the rights in Morocco.

Some “Arabs,”–and please note this doesn’t apply to all Arabs—believe that “Tamazight” is only a primitive language and culture that has no value in the 21st century. They say that there is no benefit to knowing about the culture of “Amazigh. Further, they believe that those who defend this ideology pose a threat to society. This is because “Arabic,” is the holy language of Quran, and that it might be also a threat for Islam. Of course it’s only an ideological use of “Arabic” for some goals and gains and has nothing with reality.

If the Arabic language were necessary to be a Muslim, then many Asian people who are Muslim would not be. To defend the “Tamazight,” language and culture, has never been against Islam. For those who hate the “Amazigh”–and they are numerous–I just ask them where we can take the bulk of Moroccan society if you don’t like them?

Some “Amazigh” fanatics see “Arabs” as enemies. I ask these people the same question: Where can we take those you think are “enemies” away from you? They have as much of a right to exist as you do. If some of “Arabs” really have hurt “Amazighs” and “Tamazight” some of them will always fight their right of existence fiercely, but not all of them do. The hatred you might harbor toward “Arabs” will only harm the cause you are defending, these ideas will never serve it.

“Tamazight” has suffered for quite a while and as a result it has been prevented. Now it’s not bad if it gets some thought, its constitutionalization in the late constitution is just a first step.I’m an “Amazigh” and I have a lot of “Arab” friends and never judge them by their origins. When I want to defend “Tamazight,” I never defend race because in Morocco, few people can be completely sure of their origins, and absolutely be certain if they are pure Amazigh or pure Arab.

I defend culture and language no matter what your roots are. We have to accept each other with different languages and cultures. This tolerance is something we have to keep in mind when dealing with anyone different from us, whether he is “Arab,” “Amazigh” or whoever else.
Edited by Laura Cooper
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47833/amazigh-or-arab-keep-tolerance-2/
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A Reflection on Sexual Freedom, Virginity and Chastity
By Rachid Acim Morocco World News Beni Mellal, July 12, 2012

In the past days, many media analysts and human rights activists initiated a controversial debate about sexual freedom in Morocco. Some people touched on the core and heart of the issue, while others merely tackled the surface and did not present solid arguments for their position.

A small group of people will never be representative of the whole spectrum of the Moroccan community. They mustn’t speak on behalf of all Moroccans. This is a red line they should not encroach upon………

Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47703/a-reflection-on-sexual-freedom-virginity-and-chastity/
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E-marriage a solution or a mere business?
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News Taroudant, Morocco, July 13, 2012

In Morocco, most of  families still have a high respect for social conventions and famous traditional procedures before choosing a spouse or groom for their sons and daughters. Some close relatives, precisely aunts, still have a decisive say in deciding the future partner for their children…………..

Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47817/morocco-e-marriage-a-solution-or-a-mere-business/
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“Diali”, a play featuring women’s genital organ stirs controversy
By Larbi Arbaoui Morocco World News Taroudant, Morocco, July 10, 2012

Morocco’s recent debate over sexual freedom got even more interesting with the release of a theatrical play entitled “Diali”, meaning “mine” in Moroccan dialect and is a veiled reference to the the female genital organ…….

Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47478/morocco-diali-a-play-featuring-womens-genital-organ-stirs-controversy/
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Moroccan Ramadan Pastry: Recipe for Chebbakia
by Layla Dahamou Morocco World News Taroudant, July 11, 2012

Chebbakia, known also as Lmkherqa,  is a very famous Moroccan honeyed cookie which is served along with other cakes and cookies on special occasions. During Ramadan, the demand for Chebbakia incredibly increases. Because of its rich ingredients and sweet taste, Chebbakia provides enough energy for people who have spent the whole day from dawn to sunset fasting. During “Laftour”, the time when people break the fast, you scarcely find a Moroccan table without a plate full of these flowery shape cookies. The making of Chebbakia may take some considerable time, but this recipe will take you in 8 easy steps to discover the secret of making these honeyed flowery shaped cookies…….

Read more here: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2012/07/47742/moroccan-ramadan-pastry-recipe-for-chebbakia/
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