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Morocco Week in Review 
April 19 , 2014

Kerry’s—and Congress’s—valued partner in Morocco
By former Ambassador Edward M. Gabriel, April 14, 2014,

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry concluded his whirlwind tour through Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa in Morocco, to co-chair the second US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue. With consensus with Europe on Putin’s expansionist policies only lukewarm, and the apparent derailment of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, one can imagine that Kerry was relieved to arrive in Rabat. 

There, Kerry met with a partner that shares our vision of stability and security in the region, and makes common cause with the U.S. on how to move forward to achieve it. In summing up his visit at the second Morocco-U.S. Strategic Dialogue in Rabat, Kerry said, “The U.S. stands by and will stand by this relationship every step of the way.” He hailed Morocco’s “essential leadership role” on its reform program and its proactive strategy to enhance regional security and stability in Africa and the Middle East.

The joint statement issued at the conclusion of the visit was a clear indication that the U.S. sees Morocco as a partner, one that America will continue to support as Morocco advances its economic, political, social, human rights, and governance reforms. The statement commended King Mohammed VI’s leadership in “deepening democracy and promoting economic progress and human development.”

These sentiments were echoed by Members of Congress at a hearing earlier this week on U.S. policy toward Morocco, held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. In her opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said, “The Administration must continue to see Morocco as the potential for what other North African transitional countries can do, and we must look to glean the best practices from its approach and see how it can be implemented in neighboring countries as well.” Calling Morocco a “critical partner,” Ranking Member Theodore E. Deutch (D-Fla.) said, “It’s clear that Morocco is committed to taking substantial action,” to improve security and stability in the Maghreb and Sahel.

On the critical issue of the Western Sahara, the U.S. and Morocco are partners in working together to resolve this almost 40-year-old dispute. The joint statement released following Kerry’s visit reiterated once again that “the United States’ policy toward the Western Sahara has remained consistent for many years,” and that “Morocco’s autonomy plan is serious, realistic, and credible.” The members of Congress at the hearing also publicly supported the US’s longstanding policy advocating for a solution based on a formula of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. 

Testimony from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Egypt and Maghreb Affairs William Roebuck and Alina Romanowski of USAID's Bureau for the Middle East, as well as comments and questions from subcommittee members, focused on the two countries’ successful trade and security partnership, Morocco’s significant progress on human rights and political reform, and Morocco’s role as a model for other countries in the region.

It is clear that both the administration and Congress view Morocco as an equal partner, serious about moving ahead with reforms and dedicated to advancing regional economic progress, stability, and security based on strongly shared values and interests with the US.

Secretary Kerry and Morocco’s formula of achieving progress through a partnership of shared values and concerns is a far stronger basis for securing results than top-down pressure that satisfies neither party. Policy makers and NGOs who are Morocco watchers should study Secretary Kerry’s statement closely. He and Congress believe that Morocco is headed in the right direction and is a willing and valued partner.

It’s been difficult for the US to find a success story in foreign policy lately.  The Obama Administration now can point to Morocco, a country that is seldom in the news yet is a reliable and staunch ally, worth investing in, and one that shares common interests and values with the United States. America needs that kind of partner now more than ever.

Gabriel is a former U.S. ambassador to Morocco, 1997 to 2001, and currently advises the government of Morocco
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Alumni TechCamp Caravan Organized in Morocco
Saturday 19 April 2014 Oujda

In collaboration with US Embassy, TechCamp Caravan,  which took place on the 12th and the 13th of April, called for active members in civic society to take part in its second edition in Agadir. Participants of this chapter were Moroccan alumni from different exchange programs, including MEPI, IVLP, Access, and Fulbright alumni.

This multi-faceted immersion camp was designed to build digital literacy for a group of young activists from different areas in Morocco. It took the form of hand-in-hand training sessions as well as small group discussions. Participants had the opportunity to learn how to embrace the latest tools and technologies and use them in creative and effective ways.

“Three characteristics of this camp have contributed to its success: The quality of volunteering, the spirit of entrepreneurship, and successful coordination,” said Mrs. Sana Sekale, ESL/EFL professor at ENS–Rabat, continuing, “this was a perfect platform for people working on the thematic of culture, acculturation, inter-culture and socio-culture to meet and found common ground.”

In this two-day conference, alumni were exposed to a wide range of technological tools and techniques, such as video streaming services and web design. Additionally, they practiced using online platforms to raise awareness of social issues, build organizational capacity, fundraise for nonprofits, and much more.

“Techcamp is indeed an exceptional platform, and it provides a unique learning experience for members of civil society organizations,” said Ayoub Belgharbi, MEPI alumni, “for a world that is massively evolving, we are now entitled to keep up. Tech is the means.”

One of the most interesting topics was the use of digital storytelling, presented by Yasser Monkachi, a trainer at Techcamp Alumni. He explained the meaning of Digital Storytelling, the process it goes through, and how it could be used beneficially and influentially.

Funded by the US embassy, Techcamp caravan covered accommodation, transportation and meals for participants. The program will continue on its path to reach other cities in the coming weeks, including Ouarzazate, Assilah, and Oujda. Around 50 highly motivated participants will take part in this interactive event.

“This was one opportunity to gather people all over Morocco (north, south, east, west) with the aim to collaborate efforts and maximize outcome. By the end of the event, we feel we still wanted to stay (never got bored),” said Mrs.Sana Sekale.
Edited by Melissa Smyth

The Curious Beauty of Berber Jewelry.

Eighteen shiny silver coins, 20 turquoise beads and a square of coral — and that is merely for the headdress of a Berber bride. Worn across the chest of the tribeswoman are silver chains, circlets attached to more chains, chunks of amber inset with egg-shaped silver baubles and glass beads in red, green, yellow and black, colors that symbolize fertility.

Can jewels be about empowerment as well as adornment? That is the question posed by a fascinating exhibition here that focuses on North Africa.

“Berber Women of Morocco,” at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent until July 20, transports the viewer to the Atlas Mountains by way of the Berber Museum. The museum is in a former artist’s studio at the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, Morocco, and was restored by Mr. Bergé and Saint Laurent before the couturier’s death to house their collection of more than 600 Berber items.

By preserving the ritual objects of this centuries-old society, the two men created an archive that goes far beyond tribal clothing. Film and photographs taken in the early- to mid-20th century, for example, bring the embellishments vividly to life.

There are no vitrines of clothes in the exhibition, in part because Berber body coverings are flat fabrics folded around the body and held together with jewelry. But Bjorn Dahlstrom, the curator of the Majorelle museum and this exhibition, has taken that one step closer to abstraction by displaying the clothes only as images projected on flat screens under a twinkling starry “sky.”

So the display cases focus on the jewelry, in all its hefty intensity, giving some inkling of the significance of these pieces and their origins. Items from different peoples, including Arabs and Jews, who blended with the Berbers, make for a feast for the eyes.

The clinking, weighty objects — wondrous inventions of sculpture and decoration — are significant for the messages they create.

Fertility was inevitably on that list, but wealth and social hierarchy were worked in, along with the filigree decoration.

In the accompanying book, published by Artlys, an essay by Cynthia Becker, a professor of art and architecture history at Boston University, explains how the body adornments are not only masterpieces of Berber identity, but also reveal the strength of women within their tribal worlds. There is a fierceness to the pieces, with their bright, beaten silver contrasting with colorful stones, each with a particular meaning.

While not suggesting warrior women, not one piece could remotely be associated with decorative jewelry, as most societies today perceive it.

Yet there are touching examples of comradeship.

One of the pictures in a slide show, taken in the 1930s, shows women’s hands creating a circle around a woven cloth holding tangerines. Each wrist has four, five or six bracelets; fingers are thick with rings. But the image is of unity, rather than decoration.

And although the Berber women of this century have learned to appreciate gold more than silver, they still wear the ancestral pieces for weddings, proving that what have often been described as “accessories” are still at the heart of their world.

The exhibition is to travel next year to Manama, Bahrain, and Rabat, Morocco.

Moroccan Women Cling to Article 19 of the Constitution on Gender Equality.
Saturday 12 April 2014 Goulmima

It is the new millennium and Morocco has experienced radical change at different levels. minorities gained new rights and emerging social groups openly claimed their place in the Moroccan society. Women’s struggle for plain and equal recognition in Morocco continues to occupy public opinion, especially after the passage of the 2011 constitution, where article 19 clearly calls for gender equality  and yet  the implementation of which is taking very slow steps.

A number of Moroccan women associations are now rolling up their sleeves for another round on April 13th in Rabat to raise their demands. A video released on YouTube by the Civil Coalition for the Implementation of Article 19 in the Moroccan Constitution features a number of Moroccan artists, housewives, students, and teachers calling for Moroccan men and women to join the march on April 13th in order to shift the government’s attention towards the necessity to implement the unprecedented article 19 in Morocco’s 2011 constitution, which openly recognizes gender equality among Moroccan citizens.

The women in the video communicated their message in Tamazight (including its three dialects) and Arabic:

Bouazzaoui Farida, a Moroccan artist who is featured in the video, says “I will join the march on April 13th because there are many educated Moroccan women who are qualified for higher positions but remain marginalized.”

Badrya El Hassani, a Moroccan artist, added “I am a female Moroccan citizen and I will join the march on April 17th because I felt bad when I learned that 62% of Moroccan women are victims of physical violence.”

Fatima Outarhat, a freelancer journalist, said: “I will participate in the March on April 17th because we want hospitals where women can deliver, it is a shame and a disgrace for women to give birth to their children in hallways.”

Article 19 of the constitution states:

“Men and women have equal civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms as listed in this article and in the rest of the constitution as well as the conventions and international treaties duly ratified by Morocco in conformity with the constitution’s provisions and the kingdom’s constants and its laws. The state shall work towards the establishment of parity between men and women. Therefore, it has assigned a specialized authority to ensure parity between men and women and fight against all forms of discrimination.”

The Coalition for the Implementation of Article 19 launched a petition on March 17th asking the head of parliament to consider the full implementation of article 19. The petition has collected 1,108 signatures, aiming at 2000. The petition provides a description of the incentives that made the coalition take this initiative, claiming that “Moroccan women face discrimination on a daily basis in terms of judiciary, illiteracy, unequal salaries, precarious situation, physical, sexual and psychological violence, in addition to the limited access to: health care, employment, property ownership, positions of responsibility, elected office, and the continuous promotion of sexist stereotypes. We strongly demand from the Moroccan government, which continues to ignore the various cases representing Moroccan feminist movements, to assume its responsibility to implement the provisions of Article 19 of the constitution in accordance with its prerogatives and obligations granted by the constitution.”

The coalition calls for immediate implementation of gender mainstreaming authority that is mentioned in the constitution and which has not been instituted, the promulgation of the law that eradicates gender violence in order to protect women’s human rights, the establishment of new public policies to protect the economic and social rights of women and also guarantee better female representation and decision-making positions.
Edited by Jessica Rohan

Morocco women march to demand gender equality
April 13, 2014 RABAT

A group of around 800 Moroccans, mostly women, staged a march in the capital Rabat on Sunday demanding that a constitutional guarantee of gender equality be applied in the kingdom. The march from the city centre to parliament was led by the Civil Coalition for the Application of Article 19, which is reportedly made up of some 500 NGOs, and was joined by civil society organisations, lawmakers, rights groups and lawyers.

Participants carried banners demanding a "comprehensive review of all discriminatory laws", "women's safety in public places", and "equality as a right, not a privilege".

Article 19 of Morocco's 2011 constitution guarantees that "men and women enjoy on an equal footing civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms".

However it has yet to be applied by the country's Islamist-led government.

The protestors accused the government of "stalling the application" of Article 19.

Fawzia El-Asouli, coordinator of the coalition, said that the government was also "stalling in the application of laws that protect women from violence and discrimination".

The group also called for a petition to urge the prime minister to apply laws protecting women's rights.

The coalition citing figures of the State Planning Commission says 62 percent of women in Morocco aged between 18 and 64 have been the victims of violence.

Last year, rights campaigners in the kingdom obtained the amendment of Article 475 of the penal code, which had allowed a rapist to avoid criminal charges by marrying his victim.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Gender in Morocco: a stream of inconsistencies and misconceptions.
Issam Eddine Jalal Wednesday 16 April 2014 Kenitra

It goes without saying that men and women are different in ways that make them complete each other.It is also logical to believe that men and women are assigned different roles and tasks that mean to attain the same objective in life. However, in Morocco gender seems to be a subject of countless misconceptions, some of which are socio-cultural in essence but the rest is just make-believe. 

Ever since I was a child, I have always witnessed the inconsistencies of society when dealing with gender issues. I probably was too young to point my finger at the exact deficiencies that plagued our social system when distributing roles among males and females, but I was almost sure that something wasn’t quite right. While I was growing up, I kept hearing the phrase “he’s a man” to justify my most despicable wrongdoings. It certainly felt comforting to use my gender identity as a reliable warrant for my misconduct so as to avoid a serious beating. However, I somehow could not live with the idea that my sister, who was a few years younger than me, did not benefit from such privilege.

As years passed by, I came to understand that our society has a long-held double standard when it comes to gender. Women and men are not viewed equally in Morocco and the distribution of their roles seems to leave plenty of room for questioning. These roles are a manifestation of stereotypes, fixed images and misconceptions that have been established through the most influential institutions in the country such as family, school, media to name just a few. Within the boundaries of the family, the girl is often considered less capable of forming an opinion of her own, more vulnerable to the exploitation of others. The boy on the other hand is often expected to be in control of everything and is instructed to impose his judgments even if that calls for some transgressions. The boy is allowed a few mistakes but the girl is expected to straighten up and fly right all the time.

During adolescence, this prejudiced treatment grows even more jarring as the critical period female and male teenagers go through exposes the irrationality of parents’ decisions on gender roles. It is almost always the case that a typical Moroccan family would keep tabs on their teenage daughter more than their teenage son for some bogus reasons. In fact, in many cases, the teenage boy is often expected to watch over his teenage sister. Furthermore, female teenagers are to abide by a set of rules such as not going out at night, keeping a low profile in the neighborhood, spending more time working or studying, being at home before dark. However, in most cases, these rules do not apply to teenage males even though the precautions intended from such measures are supposed to be the same for both genders.

The bogus reasons I mentioned earlier seem to be based on the long-held stereotypical idea that girls should be protected because they are more vulnerable and easy to manipulate on different levels; emotionally, socially and most importantly sexually. This idea is not entirely accurate because facts prove that both genders could easily be subject to all kinds of manipulation and abuse. It is really pointless to justify gender prejudice through some fallacies that reality proves wrong. Therefore, parents should be careful not to fall for these false beliefs and give their male teenagers more freedom than they ought to have. However, if the protection of women presents itself in such persistent manner, then the variable question that poses itself is: Who threatens their safety? And the answer is obviously ironic.

As an educator, I tend to engage in open discussions on this matter with my students. Unfortunately, I hardly stumble upon a case where the female teenager is treated the same way as her male siblings or peers. In fact, I get so many complaints from female students that their parents are drastically strict with them to the extent that they keep tabs on each of their little moves. Furthermore, I find that male students have access to a great margin of freedom compared to female students. For instance, boys can go out after school, they can come home late and they are not required to do household tasks even the simplest of these tasks such as making the bed or tidying the bedroom up. I must admit that such revelations provoke me because I believe that good habits begin at home and cultivating the sense of responsibility concerns both genders. In other words, as parents and educators, both genders are to assume the same amount of responsibilities regardless of the roles to be later assigned to each one of them.

Later on, this prejudice is exerted further by the whole society. It all starts with the inherent idea that a girl should find a spouse as soon as she turns into a “Woman” putting aside all her dreams, objectives and wishes in life. Even worse, when the girl reaches a certain age in some families, she turns into this curse that should soon be lifted by finding her a husband. I personally have encountered many cases where one of my female students is obliged to drop out of school in order to get married. Furthermore, girls themselves are sometimes predisposed and conditioned, by society and their parents, to scavenge for a husband instead of focusing on their studies, especially during adolescence and a little beyond. This may come as a surprise, but I have witnessed many cases where girls at the age of seventeen and eighteen are attending school while they are preoccupied with the task of finding a man who is serious enough to marry them. Most of these teenagers use school as a means to explore their options and find the perfect husband who is not only going to ward off all the question marks, but who will also give the young woman a name to justify her existence.

It is very disheartening for a woman to live in a society that views her as a complication that should quickly be dealt with. This idea becomes more apparent when we address the issue of sexuality in Morocco. The old belief that women get a lot of sexual attention that leads to disgrace and dishonor for the whole family is unfortunately still existent. It is obvious by now that our society exercises a very disturbing prejudice when it comes to who has the right to explore their sexuality and who does not. For instance, there is an unsettling and strong belief that men are expected to have multiple sexual relationships while women are not. The man is free to exercise his sexual fantasies and live them proudly while the woman takes all the blame in the world if she even dares to talk about having a sexual affair. Over the years, this belief has even convinced countless married women to pardon the frequent sexual adventures of their husbands. However, it never worked the other way around.

While I do not recommend the Western model of equality between both genders, I do not see the Moroccan model to be any fair. The social norms related to gender responsibilities and rights in Moroccan society are quite unfair and sometimes they do not make much sense. For instance, a man can make all the disgraceful mistakes in his life and still be granted forgiveness while a woman can be easily condemned for life because she took a wrong turn somewhere. This double standard is always related to the biased upbringing of the two genders as mentioned earlier. However, the very nature of this biased upbringing is unjustifiable because both genders should have the same privileges because at the end of the day, we are upbringing a human being. Still, those rights and responsibilities themselves should be determined by what we think is best for our whole society.

For instance, adultery is an act that should be condemned for both women and men. Having sexual affairs should be judged the same way for both genders. Here, I am not talking about the law as much as social perception and awareness. For example, a man should be viewed as guilty as a woman if he chooses to have sexual relationships out of wedlock. A man should be viewed as ill-mannered and dishonored as a woman who chooses to have multiple sexual partners at once. One might say that I took it a bit too far, but isn’t that what our religion commands us to do? Isn’t a man as blameworthy as a woman if he commits such sins? So where is the “taking it too far” part in all of this?

The day when we realize the value of establishing a fair and balanced social system, we will be able to eradicate most of our social quandaries. The day when we cease fueling all the gender stereotypes our society is plagued with, we will be able to see that the difference between men and women as an investment that could be harvested for the good of the whole society.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

50,000 Moroccans suffer from the Parkinson’s Disease
Saturday 12 April 2014 Goulmima  

Parkinson’s disease is a widespread condition whose symptoms start to show between the ages of 40 and 60. The chances of developing the disease increase with age. It is caused by the death of dopamine-generating cells in the substantia nigra, which is a region in the midbrain that maintains balance of human body.

Most people suffering from the Parkinson Disease start to experience symptoms such as uncontrollable body shaking, slow movements, loss of balance, the disappearance of facial traits, speech difficulties, anxiety, depression, swallowing difficulties, constipation, and sleeping disorders.

April 11 is the International Day of Parkinson’s. Each year research reveals new shocking statistics on the number of people affected by the disease. In Morocco, statistics revealed that about 50,000 Moroccans suffer from Parkinson’s; internationally, one person out of every 1000 has it.

Most of the cases are discovered at a late stage, which makes it more difficult to treat, especially because medicine for this disease is very expensive. Nevertheless, the neurologist Dr. Ahmed Ashouri explained, “medicine alone is not enough and family’s psychological support is prerequisite at the different stages of the disease.”

He added that “people suffering from Parkinson tend to feel ashamed of their disease which makes it hard for them to cohabitate with their families.”
Edited by Melissa Smyth

Marrakech Atlas Etape supports Education for All
Monday 14 April 2014

The Moroccan NGO Education for All (EFA) was formed to help young girls living in rural areas have the chance to pursue their education.

However, many of them have to give up their schooling to help their families in the tough working conditions in the Atlas Mountains, particularly during the winter months when roads can be impassable. Illiteracy amongst rural girls remains very high, as much as 80% according to EFA.

The NGO works under the belief that if you educate women you will ultimately educate the whole family, as the girls become mothers and pass on what they have learned to their children. EFA identified a need to provide accommodation for girls close to where their schools are located. Colleges in urban areas were too expensive and too far for rural families So secure houses with dormitories were built near to schools. such as Dar Asni, Dar Asni II, Dar Ouirgane and Dar Tinmal.

It used to be unheard of for rural girls to have a chance at a college education and the chance of a professional career, such as medicine. They were, and many still are, tied to the isolated rural communities where they were born. When the first project, a boarding house in Asni was undertaken by EFA in 2007, the aim was to provide 36 girls living in the High Atlas mountains with secondary education so that they had the chance to go on to college.

In September 2009 EFA opened a second boarding house in a remote area of the High Atlas, 100km from Marrakech in the town of Talaat n’Yacoub. This provides the opportunity of college education for 36 more girls, who would otherwise not have had this opportunity. Last year there were five girls who, as a result of being in EFA houses for the full 5 years of secondary and lycée, are now at university. It only costs EFA 1000 Euro to fund a girl for a whole year at an EFA house near the school which, given that illiteracy rates for girls in rural Morocco is estimated to be as high as 80%, is a vital investment.

Apart from a paid housemother and cook, there are no administrative expenses as the EFA committee and staff work on a voluntary basis, allowing 100% of all donations to go directly to the project.

EFA was the brainchild of Mike McHugo, owner of the famed Kasbah Toubkal. Mike and his brother Chris renovated the Kasbah, with its stunning views of surrounding mountains and Jebel Toubkal, together with the local community as partners. This led them naturally to work on projects to help the local Amazigh mountain communities.

In 2013 the EFA committee hit on the idea of a bicycle race from Marrakech to Oumkaimeden. Kasbah Toubkal often arranges bicycling events in Toubkal National Park. The Atlas Etape is a 40 km dash to the foot of Oumkaimeden, with a body crunching punishing 30 km climb up to Oumkaimeden at 2426 meters at the summit. Then the joy of a 70 km downward sprint all the way back to Marrakech with medals for the first frontrunners to make it back. The 2013 Atlas Etape saw a heavy fog draw in on Oumkaimeden, preventing some riders from getting back to Marrakech for safety reasons.

This year, with temperatures at a hot 35 degrees, this is unlikely to be a problem. The race is already attracting professional bicycle racers, a chance to visit Marrakech and a great opportunity to support a worthwhile cause. Three older participants are bicycling from England to Marrakech to take part in the event, and they have already raised over £80,000 for EFA. They call themselves the “fat dads on bikes” after a much-loved UK TV series, The Fat Ladies, who used to ride motorbikes to different locations to do their cooking programs on TV. They were a wonderfully irreverent pair.

Her Majesty’s Ambassador Clive Alderton will be on hand to present medals when the tired winners roll in at the Etape’s final destination. The Ambassador has recently become a patron of the EFA. Later on in the evening, there will be a fundraising dinner which is open to all, and some of the girls from EFA’s houses in Asni and the university will attend, which will be a great opportunity for friends and supporters to meet them. It should be a great evening.

Moroccan women say, 'Equality is not a privilege'

Protesters march to tell government it's time to enforce gender equality. Hundreds of Moroccan women demanding equal rights marched in the capital of Rabat on Sunday.

Demonstrators called on the government to implement Article 19 of the 2011 constitution, which states men and women have equal rights in the civil, political, economic, social, and environmental spheres. Many say the law has not been applied. Some of the older legislation remains in place today. Inheritance law, which remains untouched, allows men to receive more property than women. Both male and female demonstrators demanded social change for women. In the image below, protesters hold signs that read, "Liberty, dignity, and social justice".

Read more & watch videos here:

Google Celebrates Famous Muslim Philosopher Ibn Rushd.
Monday 14 April 2014 - Taroudant, Morocco

Giant search engine, Google, celebrated today the 888th anniversary of the famous Muslim philosopher and physician Ibn Rushd with a beautifully designed doodle on its home page. Google, which keeps changing its doodles to celebrate special people and events, designed a nice and beautiful doodle for the Muslim scholar with his portrait in the middle and Latin words of Google taking an Arabic-looking calligraphy shape.

“We celebrated Ibn Rushd’s 888th anniversary with a doodle today as he is well-known for his works in philosophy, science and astronomy,” a Google spokesperson was quoted by Arabiya News as saying.

“Doodles also make search on Google more fun and enjoyable for our users worldwide,” the spokesperson added.

Known in the West by his Latinized name Averrhoës, Abu Al Waleed Mohammad Bin Ahmad Bin Rushd, was born 1126 in Al Andalus, present-day Spain and died 1198 in Marrakesh. He was a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics and Andalusian classical music theory.

Only 15% of Moroccans Approve of US Global Leadership.
Wednesday 16 April 2014 Rabat

The Meridian International Center and Gallup released a new U.S.-Global Leadership Project this week, which found that the U.S.  Leadership approval rating lost 15 points in Morocco in 2013. It seems like Moroccans’ opinions on US leadership fluctuate from year to year. Although Moroccan approval of US global leadership decreased in 2013, it is still the highest of any Arab country after Mauritania.

The project, which included 160 countries, found that U.S approval leadership rating in Morocco has lost 15 points in the last year, from 33% in 2012 to 15% in 2013.

Still, “the majority of Moroccans (59%) did not have an opinion about U.S. leadership. Residents of Morocco were, however, nearly twice as likely to disapprove (27%) as approve (15%) of U.S. leadership,” the survey said. Notably, after the White House’s leadership popularity in Morocco lost only 3 points from 2009 to 2010, regaining5 points in 2011, support for America’s leadership lost 18 point between 2012-2013 going down from 33 to 15%

Morocco’s approval decrease (-15) ranked the kingdom among the ten biggest losses in approval in the world in 2012, alongside South Africa (-16), Nigeria (-17), Ghana (-17), Angola (-20) and Madagascar (-23).

According to Gallup and Meridian, U.S. leadership disapproval was 80% in Palestine, 71% in Lebanon, 69% in Yemen, and 47% in Syria.
Edited by Jessica Rohan

Thousands of Jews Arrive In Morocco To Celebrate Passover.
Wednesday 16 April 2014 - Aziz Allilou Rabat

Moroccan authorities have put strict security measures in place as over nine thousand Jews pass through Moroccan airports this week to celebrate Passover. Despite the Israeli citizens having been called upon to avoid Morocco for non-essential travel, thousands of Jews from all over the world, including many from Israel, have chosen Morocco as their destination to celebrate the Jewish holiday Passover.

The seven-day event, which began at sunset on Tuesday April 15 th , brought thousands of Moroccan Jews to the country, joining Moroccan Jewish residents to celebrate the Jewish holiday.

Moroccan airline officials told Al-Massaa that more than nine thousand Jews have crossed through Moroccan airports in the last week. Most of the arrivals were from Israel, including Israeli-Moroccan Jews.

According to the same source, the Moroccan authorities have initiated strict security measures to ensure the safety of the Jewish visitors during the weeklong holiday. These security measures aim at securing the crossing points and the religious spaces in various regions of the kingdom which will be occupied by the Jewish visitors.

Passover remains one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, which immortalizes the liberation of the Jews from slavery to the Egyptians each year. Moroccan Jews also often celebrate another holiday called Mimouna that begins on the last night of Passover.

Moroccan Olive Oil Exporters Conquer International Market at Sol & Agrifood, Verona
Sunday 13 April 2014

Moroccan olive oil exporters exhibited their products this week at the International Olive Oil Salon, “Sol & Agrifood,” which opened officially on Monday, April 7, 2014, in Verona, Italy, attended by the Secretary-General of the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture and Maritime Fishing, Mohammed Sadiki, and other notable officials from the Autonomous Establishment of Control and Coordination of Exports (EACCE), according to Aujourd’hui Le Maroc.

The Moroccan Pavilion, spanning 128 square meters, and strategically placed with a design typically Moroccan, featured various brands of olive oil produced in the Kingdom of Morocco, as well as a tasting station manned by a olfactory specialist to introduce visitors to the taste qualities of this product of Morocco.

Moroccan participation is aimed at highlighting the intrinsic qualities of Moroccan olive oil that come from well known varieties, emphasized members of the Moroccan delegation.

This first appearance in the salon, now in its 27th year, is to promote Morocco as an origin and to show the richness and high quality of Moroccan extra virgin olive oil.

According to officials of EACCE, it is a matter equally of communicating about Moroccan olive oil and its advantages, as well as of strengthening the position of Moroccan olive oil in the international market.

English Language in the Service of Morocco
Thursday 17 April 2014 Marrakech

When the Moroccan Minister of Higher Education, Lahcen Daoudi, stated that English should be the primary language for medical and information technology teaching in universities, it boosted the hopes of every English-speaking person in Morocco and made a path for English to advance in Moroccan society.

The predominance of the French language, or, in some regions Spanish, is the result of historic connections from decades past. Impressive educational and cultural institutions like the Institut Français and the Cervantes Institute support these old connections and also provide an invaluable service to Morocco.

Teaching English in Morocco has long been the undertaking of American schools and language centers. The British Council in Morocco has excellent business language courses as well as an English learning website available in French and English. It does not matter whether students focus on British or American English, though they do differ in some respects, the importance, as Minister Daoudi pointed out, is that English is a global language used in research communities and universities worldwide.

Languages give way for more opportunities and the use of English as the language of business and commerce will surely help more young Moroccans find jobs. The goal of teaching English in Morocco is to elevate the language to a higher level and encourage more private schools to offer English. The Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane is an outstanding example of an English language university that follows an American style curriculum. However, English language teaching in Morocco needs to be made available to more students. There have been discussions about establishing a university with a British style curriculum in the Kingdom; this would be a very positive development and would build on the work of the Oxford Chevening scholarships.

As more and more of the Moroccan population commits to learning English, there will be more opportunities for economic advancement and investment in English language markets around the world. The flourishing  Casablanca Finance Center is already thriving and is going to need more English speakers. The number of Moroccan financial and investment experts working in London reached over 400 people some years ago. With Moroccan banks and businesses working so proactively in Africa, the need to reach English-speaking African economies like Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana is extremely important. Morocco has had great success with trading and investment in the francophone areas of Africa, but it could increase its profitability if it could open call centers for English-speaking countries.

More importantly, more and more young Moroccans are beginning to study and become fluent in English. The emergence of English language news websites has boosted interest in the language and introduced English language news as an alternative to the Moroccan and French media. The talent was actually already in Morocco and the young writers who learned English in Moroccan universities have proved they are capable of writing about Morocco in English as good as anyone else in the world.

Hopefully, young children in schools will have the opportunity to study English early in life because the earlier they start studying, the better. Moroccans are good at learning languages and now it is time to prove that Morocco can take on one more language challenge and jump into the world of English.
Edited by Liz Yaslik

Petty Crime Rules Ok in Morocco
Thursday 17 April 2014 Mohamed Chtatou Rabat

In spite of denials from the Ministry of the Interior, crime rules ok in Morocco. For many citizens it seems that the police, the Forces Auxiliaires, or the gendarmes, are more interested in quelling demonstrations and fighting terrorism than stopping criminals and securing the streets. As a result, all kinds of criminals are out in the open, mugging people, snatching telephones, and threatening the citizenry at knife-point, or more recently machete-point.

Irritated by the passivity of the police and the lax sentences given to street criminals who often threaten to kill or maim their victims if they report them to the police, the population is taking to the streets of Casablanca to say “enough is enough.” And by so doing, the public is sending a clear message to the government that if nothing is done at once, people will take the law in their hands, once and for all.

The rise of petty crime in Morocco is due to many factors, some of which result from internal problems such as unemployment, poverty, school failure, and hooliganism, and others the result of external reasons such as Algerians smuggling in a hard drug in the form of pills known as Qarqoubi which have devastating effect. In spite of frequent arrests of criminals and sending them to jail for short-term sentences, the crime itself is not eradicated because  the criminals, thugs and vandals, once out of jail simply resume their old habits with more vehemence and violence.  The problem undoubtedly will certainly crescendo if it is not tackled the proper way.

Nobody is born a criminal, rather the environment and life situations create criminals. Therefore, a sociological study has to be conducted in the breeding areas to determine the reasons behind petty crime in Morocco and to come up with the means to combat it before it gets out of control and lawlessness becomes a major concern for the state.

Roots of crime:


Unemployment is an endemic problem in Morocco; it has always been and it will always be.  The lack of employment opportunities offered by the country has meant that since Morocco’s independence, many Moroccans have chosen to try their luck abroad.  During the 1950s to the 1980s, Europe welcomed Moroccans, whether qualified or not, and lots of them emigrated with their families. Then suddenly this Eldorado was no more because of economic hardship that led to the rise of racism and xenophobia. And as Europe moved east and absorbed ex-communist countries, the European governments decided to grant these countries employment priority. As such, Europe closed employment opportunities for the countries south of the Mediterranean and became “Fortress Europe,” imposing stringent work conditions and extremely difficult visa conditions under the Schengen regime. [1]

Realizing that the European Eldorado has become an impossible Eldorado, many young Moroccans, in search of employment, turned to the Gulf countries which, thanks to high oil revenues, became a real paradise, although not as good and as secure as Europe in terms of respect for human rights. Moroccan youth who wanted Europe whatever the price is, became 7raga “illegal immigrants” assaulting the European fortress on pateras, at the price of their lives.

After the 9/11 unfortunate events, it has become almost impossible to go anywhere around the globe without a visa. At the same time the Moroccan public universities were and still are pouring annually into the employment market, thousands of graduates with a generalist’s education, totally shunned by the private sector. As such, hundreds of these graduates demonstrate daily near the Parliament requesting the right for government employment.

The rest, aware that the government cannot do much to them, have either opted for a legitimate self-employment as ambulant vendors known as faracha, or have joined criminal gangs to smuggle hashish or become drug peddlers on street corners. Others have literally invaded the streets, armed with swords and machetes and have engaged in mugging and terrorizing the peaceful citizens. Emboldened by the impunity they enjoy, they recently went so far as to open several pages on Facebook that they call tsharmil (which is a cooking term meaning to marinate meat or vegetables),in which they exhibited their spoils and their weapons as if to say, beware we are after you as well as your belongings and peace of mind.

In response to this blatant challenge, law-abiding citizens have also started a page on Facebook, to counter the rise of crime in Casablanca: “Marche Contre l’insécurité Ambiante à Casa” and it seems that soon these people will demonstrate in the streets of Casablanca to pressure the government to act. However, the government has since started cracking down on criminals all over the country.  The King has also instructed the Minister of the Interior to take action to allay the fears of the citizenry.


The city of Casablanca is surrounded by a belt of poverty, concentrated mainly in shanty towns of people who fled the countryside during the decade of drought in the last century with the hope of finding a job in the city and feeding their families. Some did find employment, but thousands did not and thus found themselves obliged to steal, mug and deal drugs. Lots of them were arrested and tried and served time in prison, but as soon as they get out of jail, they resume their journey in petty crime which leads them anew to prison and so on, completing a vicious cycle.

Others, chose a different path, that of converting to radical Islam and have ended up being brain-washed into becoming terrorists. A case in point is the infamous group of 12 young terrorists who originated in the shanty town of Sidi Moumen and ended up simultaneously blowing themselves up at different locations in Casablanca, including the “Casa de España” restaurant, a Spanish-owned eatery in the city, the five-star Hotel Farah, a Jewish community center, a Jewish-owned Italian restaurant, and just near the Belgian consulate which is located meters away from the latter restaurant, killing two police officers on the night of May 16, 2003. This attack led to the death of the terrorists and 33 Moroccans. It was the deadliest terrorist attack that ever took place in Morocco. This inspired the Moroccan film director Nabil Ayouch to make a successful feature film of the event called “The Horses of God.”


Many people feel so much anger towards the successive governments who are unable to meet their urgent needs related to work, education and health. They believe that the politicians are vain, opportunistic and fickle and that they are simply after their own interests.  While the adults express their anger through the peaceful means of political absenteeism, the youth express their disappointment through vandalism.

This state of mind of the youth is translated into acts of vandalism at soccer stadiums, where they destroy everything and later engage in violent acts against the supporters of the opposite team. These fights often lead to injuries, broken limbs and, at times, deaths. The acts of vandalism also take place after they leave the stadiums, against buses, cars and commercial property.

This anger is also vented through verbal violence and obscene language in public places. Many people with their families feel humiliated when they hear the youths scream in public and use profane words and expressions. Those who try to make them stop using such language are insulted in front of their family members and can do nothing about it for fear of being assaulted and beaten up or even maimed.

Humilation “7ogra”

The majority of Moroccans feel humiliated by their government because they are made to pay the taxes, made to serve the country in time of need, and made to show their love and allegiance to the flag, but in return their grievances are not taken into consideration, they are never consulted on vital issues concerning the nation’s future, and their opinions, evaluations, and feedback are not even requested. In a word, they feel that they are just there as a number on a census sheet, no more. This makes them feel disenfranchised and frustrated because they don’t count to the officials.

Governments are elected by the people to carry out a given program, but once in the seat, they forget about their promises and seek to achieve their own personal hidden agendas. With the MPs (Member of Parliament), the majority of them never consult their constituency after elections; they rarely defend the urgent needs of the people who elected them in the first place.

A common joke has it that a person presented his candidacy for parliament in a rural area and promised solemnly, if elected, that he would urge the government to build a road, a school and a hospital, and provide the young people jobs. The people believed in him and thus elected him. When in parliament he sought only to get money and power for himself and as such he never went back to his power base. At the approach of the following elections, he went to his constituency in his posh Mercedes Benz while puffing at an expensive Cuban cigar. When the people saw him, they reminded him angrily of his empty promises and of his misdemeanor towards them. He acknowledged their criticism and promised that, if they reelected him this time, he would fulfill his promises. When they asked why on earth they should believe him when he had already lied to them. He said that now he is rich and will devote his efforts to their service, but if they elect somebody else he will do like he did and they will lose out again.

The Moroccan parliament is full of MPs such as this one, and Moroccans as a result feel deceived, lied to, and humiliated by the politicians who in their majority are corrupt, henceforth the anger and disbelief in the Moroccan political system that begets only deceitful people. This feeling is expressed clearly by the incredible rate of abstention in municipal and legislative elections.  What is worse, the young never vote because they have lost all faith in politicians.

The Moroccan politicians in their majority seek their own personal gratification, so they use public funds for their own interest (recall the story of Minister Guerrouj and his sweet tooth for chocolate), bypass local laws and illegally take funds abroad (the case of ex-Minister of Health Badou, who bought two apartments in Paris).  the politicians lie about their degrees (the case of Minister of Youth and Sports Ouzzine) and they take corruption money in any way possible whether as commission money on public purchase deals or other. The Moroccan Government, though it was elected to put an end to mismanagement, embezzlement of public funds and corruption, never put to trial a single minister for any of these. On the contrary, the Head of Government has even declared a total amnesty on all forms of deceit.


Drugs are widely available in Moroccan streets. Drugs dealers are everywhere and it seems that through corruption money they manage to do their business unmolested by the security apparatus. Many opposition figures argue quite strongly that the state is being soft on drug peddling because it serves indirectly its purposes by keeping the youth drugged and stoned and away from politics.

Drugs are responsible for the increasing sexual assaults recorded lately in the Moroccan society. They are also responsible for the rise of petty crime and serious crime in the cities and in the countryside, as well as  hooliganism at soccer matches. Many law-abiding citizens argue that the country is in the hands of the drug lords and criminals.

Recently, the national newspapers have carried accounts of several drug addicts slaughtering their parents, a crime that was unheard of in Morocco some years ago because parents are venerated in the popular culture “rdat l-walidin” and held sacred in the Koran.

Strategies for fighting crime

Empowering the youth

The government and society at large must heed the call of youth and try to identify their needs because, whether we like it or not, they are the driving force of the nation. In other words, they are its future while the seniors who decide on their behalf are its past.

Long term solutions have to be found at once to the unemployment of the youth. There are several strategies for such an endemic problem and the politicians will have to accept them, even if such strategies seriously erode their excessive power.

Also, seniors have to have the courage to leave the scene for the youth by retiring prematurely from active service or allowing young people to become truly active in their domains. Many young people argue convincingly that after they graduate from the universities, because they are unable to land a job, they feel immediately as if they have aged and they are about to retire.

Overhaul the educational system

The Moroccan educational system is a national disaster. Rather than forming and developing qualified people to contribute to the development of the country, the system produces generalist graduates who are shunned by the employment market. What is needed urgently is a thorough review of the system in order to conform its output adequately with the needs of the market.

Besides the elementary subjects that are needed for educating the young and training them, tertiary education subjects ought to be changed in accord with the needs of the market.

To make education successful, the curriculum must be revamped totally, and maybe it is about time to adopt the Anglo-Saxon system because the French one has proven its shortcomings.

Besides, the government has to push for the generalization of education and create alternatives to the dropouts who in many cases end up in the street and are easily recruited by drug lords, hardened criminals, or radical Islamists.

Functional literacy programs have to be implemented everywhere to allow the empowerment of illiterate people, especially women in rural areas, and ultimately render them financially able to feed their children especially in the case of mono-parental families.

Alleviate poverty

Many people in Morocco, quite rightly, feel that they are not getting their proper share of national wealth and that the big fish at the top of the pyramid unlawfully takes everything. In most Middle East countries, unfortunately, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and the gap between the two gets wider and wider. The middle class that acts as a shock absorber in sane societies has disappeared in these countries long time ago. And what adds salt to the wound is the fact that the rich not only get richer in legal and illegal ways but they also evade paying taxes through corruption.

Kin Mohammed VI, realizing the difficulties faced daily by the poor in their endeavor to survive launched in May 18, 2005, a very ambitious program for poverty alleviation: Initiative Nationale du Dévéloppement Humain (INDH). Since then, the initiative has helped thousands of Moroccan poor people start a small business or become self-employed in their own little commercial enterprise.

While it is true that the initiative has achieved a lot of success, I believe the time has come to allow external evaluation and the adoption of a novel approach to make the effort worthwhile and avoid the INDH becoming a self-perpetuating institution. Young blood is needed sooner than later for this laudable initiative.

Give the youth a chance

Morocco, and by extension the Middle East, are tribal and patriarchal systems that do not allow the youth to come to the forefront nor to dream of ruling or becoming the political elites. Indeed, the Arab uprisings took place because the youth were sick of being ruled by autocratic and corrupt leaders who ignored them and ignored their needs. But, in spite of these uprisings, events that were saluted by the West and the rest of the world, unfortunately not much has changed and, as a result, a second more violent uprising wave will, somehow, take place in the future and will undoubtedly overflow the MENA region, and will certainly be more deadly and more annihilating, this time.

The state and the government are called upon urgently to take action to listen to the needs and the woes of the youth. Those who took to the streets with knives and swords to mug and frighten the population are sending a signal to those in charge stating that they are sick of the status quo. Arresting them and putting them in jail is the traditional sweeping of the dust under the carpet. Doing this over and over will create a mound over which those in charge will trip and fall in the long run. Once the youth finish their terms in prison, they will come out as hardened and seasoned criminals full of anger and despair.

The youth have a lot of energy and stamina that ought to be channeled to creativity, sports, politics, etc. If it is not properly used, this energy becomes a time bomb that blows up in the face of everyone. So be warned.

The government of Morocco should engage in a national dialogue with the youth region by region. The outcome of this ought to be transformed into a long term strategy to empower the youth and give them the ability to use positively their energy and will.

The state and the government must wake up, at once, before it is too late.

A last word

Moroccan youth has proved that if it is given the opportunity it can achieve wonders; the proof of this is that those who have migrated to the West, where youth are encouraged to go forward and climb the social ladder, have become active politicians, successful sportsmen, renowned actors or singers and great entrepreneurs, the reason being, they had the right environment at hand to translate their dreams into reality and achieve success.

In any country the youth are the future but if you degrade them and alienate them you stop advancing and you become a thing of the past.

I believe that this Tsharmil phenomenon sounds as an alarm to society at large warning of great trouble ahead. Will the Moroccans be up to the task and respond positively to the despair of the youth?

Only time will tell.

[1]  The Schengen Area encompasses most EU States, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the United Kingdom. However, Bulgaria and Romania are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area. Of non-EU States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

Morocco tackles street crime.
By Siham Ali in Rabat for Magharebia – 14/04/2014

Morocco this month began a new effort to boost local security. The move comes in response to the emergence of a new trend: pictures of armed robberies and assaults posted online by criminals. Dubbed "tcharmil", the phenomena seen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram has made citizens fear they could be the next victims of a knife or sword attack by someone seeking internet fame.

The criminals are getting help, according to Casablanca police. Young people who take the pictures also risk prosecution.

King Mohammed VI ordered immediate action to address the acts of vandalism and violence publicised via social media, Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad announced last week. The government's counter-offensive will involve mayors, walis and local security officials. In every town, the minister is urging authorities to carry out daily patrols.

Hassad said that the participation of citizens was essential to boosting security and public confidence. The community-based approach includes meetings to hear people's concerns and needs.

Speaking at one such meeting in Al Hoceima on April 10th, Hassad urged authorities to adopt the action plan to fight crime. The feeling of insecurity that has recently arisen recently in some cities "is largely due to the wide media coverage given these crime cases", he told wilaya officials. "Official figures do not reflect the upsurge in crime that has occurred over the past few years. But people are feeling increasingly unsafe," sociologist Mourad Zinbi confirmed to Magharebia. "The government has been urged to take concrete action and show citizens that authorities are there to protect their safety," he added. "It is time to foster a climate of confidence, especially in big cities."

Many members of the public note that for years, the only police presence felt in the big cities has been that of traffic control officers.

Salma Dahbi, a 39-year-old Temara resident, said she stopped going out in the evenings since she was attacked with a knife two years ago. "A young man snatched my bag and my gold chain, beat me up and even cut my arm," the bank clerk told Magharebia. "That attack still affects me even now. There were no police officers close to my neighbourhood. And the criminal was never caught." Starting neighbourhood patrols and community policing will help deter criminals, she added.

The recent stories about young bandits and muggers armed with large swords have terrorised families, 42-year-old employee Bahia Tellabi said. "I've stopped allowing my 16-year-old son to go out in the evenings so he won't be attacked by a criminal gang," she said. "I hope the security measures that will be put in place will encourage criminals to abandon their plans," she added.

Language Policy in Morocco: Real crisis or Potential Transformation?
Monday 14 April 2014 Hamid Ait El Caid Marrakech

Morocco has lately witnessed a profound change in various policies, and attention has focused on Morocco’s policy on language which has been questioned in debates in recent years. However, the policy of language implementation is quite problematic, given the nature of Morocco’s many cultural and linguistic influences as well as its local identity, while at the same time also being driven by the need to adapt to the globe, which is a part of Morocco’s openness towards Europe, the US, and the entire world.

It is evident that French and Moroccan Arabic, colloquially known as “Darija,” constitute the major useful languages as most Moroccans can speak both, or at least one, in public life. Each of these languages serves in a variety of public areas and is used by categories of people as their language of communication and for special purposes. Yet, Tamazight on the other hand has been introduced to the public in reaction to demands by a number of associations and human rights NGOs. Such movements have been calling for a real political willingness to recognize Tamazight as an official language of Morocco, not merely recognizing it constitutionally but promoting it as much as possible to be an active and dynamic language serving all areas in the public. 

The current state of language policy in Morocco is complicated. It is based upon extensive historical and cultural changes within the Moroccan society. Yet establishing a certain language as official above the others is based upon political power. Therefore, power has been an important factor driving language policy, no matter what tongue the majority of people speak. France, as a part of its colonial theory, imposed French upon the majority of people who speak Tamazight and/or Moroccan Arabic. Therefore, France influenced the linguistic structure of Morocco, which has served French interests well, even after Morocco’s  independence.

Unlike some ex-French colonies, such as Senegal and Mali, which have adopted French as their first language after their independence, Morocco decided to use both French and Standard Arabic, one being a national and official language and the other the medium of business and foreign communication. Although the decision maintained the Arabo-Islamic identity of Morocco and reshaped its existence, it has not completely satisfied the linguistic needs of all Morocco, especially the Amazigh speaking groups whose identity and culture has been neglected and not politically recognized in the past decade.

English vs. French?

Nobody can deny that French dominates most areas of public life in Morocco. The French language has tremendously affected our behaviors the attitudes. It is often regarded as a second language after Darija, but a large proportion of people consider it to be a foreign language alongside English and Spanish. Indeed, French is, to many Moroccans, a language used to gain prestige and respect. Besides, speakers of this language are labeled as belonging to the upper social class. It has also for the past century, been a “global” language due to many educational references written in French in all disciplines, such as the arts and experimental sciences.

The wave of globalization has pushed many countries in the developing world to adopt English as a first foreign language. Some of these countries are neither the home of English speaking people nor ex-British colonies.  To name but a few, these include Poland, Hungary and Turkey.  Such countries considered English a potential language which could contribute to their local development.  Most of these countries have adopted English as a medium of instruction at the tertiary education level, as well as the language of business, diplomacy, and foreign affairs. Consequently, their language policy has succeeded in introducing these countries to the global structure as models of developing countries.

Morocco, on the other hand, has worked to reach the “globalised world” through several attempts at reform. Yet the public policy of Morocco has not taken into consideration the need to adopt English, as a universal language, being understood by the majority of international decision makers and scholars from all over the world. Morocco still retains French as its first interest, with little attention paid to English, claiming that the first (French) is still as much a “global language” as it was believed to have been in the past decade, while the second (English) is less efficient at the national level.

Very recently,  Moroccan teachers of English, including members of the governments and leaders of political parties (e.g., the Minister of higher education, Mr. Lahcen Daoudi and the leader of Alistiqlal party, Mr. Hamid Chabat)  have called upon replacing French with English as a first foreign language, or at least making English more important in Moroccan education. Yet, no official statement has been made by the government to give a boost to English.

Standard Arabic vs. Darija (Moroccan Dialect of Arabic)

Standard Arabic is the official language of the state. Morocco has implemented it to cover all sectors including public education and media. However, Moroccan citizens do not master this language as it is not their mother tongue, rather they are brought up using Darija as a medium of communication within families, friends and colleagues. Linguistically speaking, Darija is a dialect which combines some Arabic items with the local expressions. It has moved from being a dialect into a prospective language serving Media and Arts. Therefore, some scholars have recently called for standardizing Darija and adopting it as a language of instruction in Education.

In the televised 2M program “Moubashara Maakom,” a special episode was produced for the debate on the question of Darija implementation. The two debaters, Nour Eddin Ayouch and Abdellah El Aroui, are scholars representing opposite views concerning the legitimacy and efficiency of using Darija at schools in place of Standard Arabic. Nour Eddin Ayouch who advocates the issue claimed that Darija is understood by the ultimate proportion of people and it could simplify the process of learning. On the other hand, Abdellah El Aroui opposes Ayouch’s proposal, and explained that Standard Arabic is the language of the divine and is linguistically rich. El Aroui argued that Darija is not qualified to cover Sciences and Academia, because it lacks rules and standard practices in writing and syntax.

What’s next?

After the constitutional recognition of Tamazight, Morocco will, today or tomorrow, recognize that preserving its history and identity is a result of promoting its language. We are often aware that implementing foreign languages is a key solution to overcome joblessness, and also help us learn new cultures while expanding our discovery to the world, in addition to introducing our country the best possible way to foreigners.

Yet, our language policy lacks principles and planning. The language panorama in Morocco is witnessing a real crisis in all aspects. Yet it is not time to lay blame or initiate proposals. Rather, it is time to establish a clear and well-oriented policy which takes into consideration the promotion of Morocco’s cultural heritage and identity, as well as the need to adapt to global changes using suitable communication techniques to achieve growth and prosperity for the country.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
لمدرب الكاراتيه بمص

Necessity is the mother of invention - Arabia Monitor publishes Country Views report.

Within the turmoil of North Africa, Morocco has shown economic resourcefulness and positioned itself as a politically stable haven. The economy has been resilient but is not out of the woods yet. Arabia Monitor analyses the ongoing reform agenda and its implications on potential civil unrest and attracting foreign investments.

Arabia Monitor is an independent research firm specialized in economic and market studies on the Middle East & North African region, which we view as the new emerging market. Our forward looking perspective allows us to place current developments in the region within a broader context and a long-term view. Our analysis is based on the macroeconomic and financial balance sheet of the Arab region and delivers unique strategy insights and forecasts to businesses across sectors.
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Moroccan art & architecture inspire PFDC SFW designer.
April 15, 2014 (Pakistan)

The just concluded seventh edition of Pakistani fashion and textile extravaganza PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PFDC SFW) featured creations from the country’s leading and upcoming names. High-street fashion label MK Nation by Karma featured its Spring/Summer 2014 collection titled ‘Style Squad’ on the opening day of the event. Replete with retro-mod elements, the line included skull-printed one shouldered tops, floor-grazing halter neck gowns and short bodycon numbers. 

Famous textile house ChenOne showcased a range, named ‘The Darling Buds’, created by the Pareesa High Street by Sahar Atif label. Inspired from the spring season, the line was made from contemporary fabrics like chiffon. Incorporated with floral prints and modern flowing silhouettes, the minimally embellished line was based in pastel shades of ivory, pink, marigold and blue.

Designer Hina Butt stayed true to her signature youthful chic designs, inspired from the Sufi mystic city of Multan’s heritage and its trademark blue and white pottery. Titled as ‘Rukn-e-Alam: Pillars of the World’, the range was made using chiffon, raw silk and organza. Enhanced with embroidery, embellishments, patchwork, cutwork and digital prints, the pieces included voluminous and straight gowns in varied lengths as well as tapered pants.

Affordable label Generation made its PFDC SFW catwalk debut on the third day with a line named as Water on Ajrak. The ajrak pattern adorned collection was crafted from flowing materials like organza, net, voile and crepe.

Young designer Roodaba Omar displayed a line titled Tehzib at the four-day-long fashion do. Influenced by the exceptional colour schemes of Moroccan art and architecture, Islamic verses and buildings, the designer infused calligraphy details in the chiffon and silk made catwalk pieces
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

Muslim, gay, and making no apologies.
World | Aida Alami, The New York Times

He was born inside the public library of Rabat in Morocco where his dad worked as a janitor and where his family lived until he was 2. For most of his childhood, he hid his sexuality as best he could, but his effeminate demeanor brought mockery and abuse, even as it would later become a source of artistic inspiration. About eight years ago, the author Abdellah Taia, now 40, came out to the Moroccan public in his books and in the news media, appearing on the cover of a magazine under the headline "Homosexual Against All Odds."

It was an act that made him one of the few to publicly declare his sexual orientation in Morocco, where homosexuality is a crime. The hardest part, he recalls, was facing his family. They probably always knew, he said, they just never talked about it. Still, it took years to overcome the rifts. "They cried and screamed," said Taia, who now lives in Paris. "I cried when they called me. But I won't apologize. Never."

In February, Taia screened his film "Salvation Army," at the National Film Festival in Tangier, an adaptation of his book of the same title, and a promising directorial debut that gave the Arab world its first on-screen gay protagonist. The film, which has already been shown at festivals in Toronto and Venice and won the Grand Prix at the Angers Film Festival in France, was shown at the New Directors Festival in New York last month.

"Salvation Army" is based on the author's life growing up in Morocco, his sexual awakening, his fascination with a brother 20 years older, his encounters with older men in dark alleys and his complex relationship with his mother and six sisters who mocked him for being too girly or too attached to them.

Shooting the film in two countries, he made clear artistic choices: no voice-overs, no music, no explicit love scenes. The film details a trip with his brother on which the two men bonded and also, a few years later, an affair with a Swiss man. After he moves to Switzerland in his 20s, he connects again with his mother.

But the film also shows the anger and frustration of the young Abdellah, as he fends off the advances of older men in a society that publicly rejects homosexuals. "A lot of men in Morocco have sexual relations with men, but I looked feminine so I was the only homosexual," he said. "In Morocco, sexual tension is everywhere and I wanted to show that in my film without having crude sex scenes; to stay true to these secretive behaviors."

One night when he was 13 and with his family, drunken men outside called out his name and asked him to come down to entertain them, a traumatic scene he recalled in a New York Times Op-Ed article, "A Boy to Be Sacrificed." After that he decided to change his persona, to eliminate his effeminate mannerisms to stop men asking him for sexual favors.

He worked hard to learn French so he could move to Europe to escape the oppression, moving to Switzerland in 1998 and then to France the following year. "I can't live in Morocco," Taia said in an interview in a Parisian brasserie. "The entire neighborhood wanted to rape me. A lot of people in Morocco are abused by a cousin or a neighbor but society doesn't protect them. There, rape is insignificant. There is nothing you can do."

Taia spent his childhood watching Egyptian movies, detailing them in a scrapbook where he collected pictures of movie stars he admired, like Faten Hamama and Souad Hosni. The freedom in Egyptian cinema, where women appeared without veils and alcohol was consumed openly, pervaded his living room and gave him hope. In a scene in "Salvation Army," the family is seen watching "Days and Nights" (1955) by Henri Barakat, and a scene where Abdel Halim Hafez sings, "Ana Lak ala Tool" ("I Am Yours Forever).

"Egyptian  movies saved me," he said. "There was already the idea of transgression through television happening in my house with my sisters. In my head, I connected that to homosexuality."

The author says he considers himself Muslim because he is very spiritual, and he believes that freedom has existed in Islam through those such as the Arab philosopher Averroes and the Iranian poet Rumi, and in works such as "1001 Nights." "I don't want to dissociate myself from Islam," he said. "It is part of my identity. It is not because I am gay that I will reject it. We need to recover this freedom that has existed in Islam."

His books have stirred some negative reviews and reaction. His writing, in particular, has been criticized as undisciplined, as if it were dictated. Others say that it is the rawness of the writing that makes his work authentic and touching.

Taia says he always wanted to become a filmmaker. He became a writer by accident after writing all his thoughts and experiences down in a journal to learn French. While he draws on his experiences growing up, he says he has never looked to art to exorcise the pain and abuse he experienced as a child and teenager.

"Books, like the film, do not solve anything," he said. "My neuroses are, at some level, what we might call my creativity. But what I produce artistically does not help me in any way in my real life. Nothing is resolved. Everything is complex, complicated. I sincerely believe that there is only love to heal and soothe troubled souls."

He says he has no preference between writing and filmmaking. "To me, both have the same source: the wonderful Egyptian films that I discovered with my family on Moroccan television during my childhood. Everything comes from images. For years, my brain has been structured from images of films I thought and rethought, in a manner at once naive and serious. I will continue to write books inspired by images - and by my neuroses, of course."

Today, he has patched up relations with most family members, though there are still awkward moments. His older brother, always cold and distant, remains estranged, a point of particular pain for Taia. The brother was worshiped by the entire family not only for his charisma but because he saved them from poverty when he took several government jobs before marrying at the age of 35.

His mother died shortly after Taia came out, and he now has a cordial relationship with his sisters. He has over 40 nieces and nephews who symbolize a new more open-minded generation of Moroccans - they often post messages of encouragement on his official Facebook page.

Still, Taia finds it very difficult to go home. "I can't talk to them," he said. "I am just a human being. They were ashamed of me. I always felt they were. I don't want them to be proud of me. And anyway, they're not."

He was one of the few Moroccan authors to denounce the oppressive policies of the kingdom and to strongly back the Feb. 20 movement that led protests in Morocco in 2011 demanding democratic reforms. His thoughts on this experience are detailed in chapters of the book "Arabs Are No Longer Afraid," which was released at the biennial at the Whitney Museum in New York in March.

"We cannot say there isn't a culture of freedom within a people that had someone like Mahmoud Darwish," he said, referring to the Palestinian poet who died in 2008.

Taia is working on his next book: a tale about old Moroccan prostitutes who at the end of their careers touring the world have landed in Paris. He lives in a small studio apartment near the central Place de la République, and worked as a baby sitter for over 10 years to finance his work. He still hasn't found love but is convinced it is what will heal his wounds. "They cry a lot, but then, they seek revenge," he said about his past lovers. "They're right. It's love. There are no rules." 
© 2014, The New York Times News Service

King Mohammed VI Launches Construction of New Dam in Tangier-Tetouan Region
Friday 11 April 2014 Tangiers

King Mohammed VI launched this Friday construction of the Kharroub dam, expected to cost MAD 1.6 billion, to consolidate drinking and industrial water supply in the Tangier-Tetouan region. The pilot project falls in line with the Royal speech of July 30, 2000 in which the Sovereign reiterated resolve to carry on the dam-construction policy, started by his  father, the late Hassan II, following an innovating vision based on rational management of water resources.

Located over Kharroub river, 45 south of the city of Tangiers and 22 km east of the city of Assilah, the dam will contribute to consolidate water facilities in northern Morocco with the aim of meeting the increasing drinking and industrial water needs and mobilize new available resources, mainly surface water.

The landmark project aims to generalize access to drinking water, improve citizens’ living conditions and health, end the isolation of local populations, develop environmental tourism, and will create 470,000 working days during the 60 months of the project construction. With a storage capacity of 185 million cubic meters, the hydraulic structure is financed by the state of the United Arab Emirates and the state general budget.

The Tangiers-Tetouan region already counts the Ibn Battouta dam -operational since 1977, the “9 April 1947″ dam -operational since 1995, the Tangiers-Med dam  -operational since 2008 and Charf El Akab groundwater table.

As part of the upgrading of the Kharroub dam zone, a development program for the Kharroub river upstream catchment area is carried out by the High Commissioner for water and forests and fight against desertification with a budget of MAD 22.4 million.

The program will contribute to fighting against soil erosion, preserving eco-systems, rehabilitating the 8,000 ha forest zones, breaking the isolation of 28 localities in the region and preventing floods.

A program meant to consolidate drinking water supply to the city of Tangiers and the neighboring localities and centers is being carried out by the national Office of Drinking Water and Electricity (ONEE), with investments worth MAD 1.35 billion.

The program will benefit over 1.7 million people by 2030. It consists in expanding the “El Hachef” plant for the treatment of water coming from the “9 April 1947″ dam, to reach an additional flow of 1,400 liters/second, and increase drinking water supply in the Tangiers-med Port by building a treatment plant with a capacity of 300 liters/second.

The “Kharroub” dam, which is part of the dam-construction policy followed for several years by Morocco, will enrich the national hydraulic facilities and reinforce the irrigation and flood-prevention facilities.

10 Signs You are Moroccan
Monday 14 April 2014 - Casablanca

Most Moroccans believe that there are certain traits, behaviors and signs that reflect one’s “Moroccaness.”  Once those signs are identified, an association is made between the indicator and one’s national identity. These signs have become part of Moroccans’ common sense. Below are some of these signs according to Moroccans themselves.

You may be Moroccan if:

1)     You’re an adept bargainer
Most Moroccans are great bargainers. When eying a particular product or service, a typical Moroccan may first go through all possible shops to make sure the purchase would cost him the least money. After asking for the price of a product or service, the next question a Moroccan would typically ask, ‘What is the final price?’ Nothing has a final price for a Moroccan; even products with price tags are not immune from Moroccans’ bargaining skills.

2)     You verify gas cylinders using fire
When you go to buy a gas cylinder at any Moroccan shop, the shopkeeper will mostly use fire to check if the cylinder is not leaking gas. As devil-may-care as it may seem, this practice is deemed very practical and even necessary by Moroccans.

3)     You have a vaccination scar on your left arm
Do you have a vaccination scar on your left arm? Almost all Moroccans have one from their childhood immunizations. Moroccans believe that a vaccination scar reflects one’s national belonging to Morocco.

4)     You’re a tea-maniac
Moroccans love tea more than any other drink. It is prepared at any time of the day, on special occasions or to welcome guests. Tea symbolizes hospitality and the sense of community in Morocco. Many Moroccans claim that not drinking tea in the morning causes them headache and turns them into “grumpy cats” throughout the day. If you too love tea this much, then there is a great chance you areMoroccan.

5)     You ask for more when it comes to snacks 
In a popular snack restaurant, you may usually hear most Moroccans asking the snacks seller to put more chips or sauce in their plates, or more fruit in their juice. This is seen as Moroccan client’s idiosyncratic way of claiming a special customer service, and the snack owner’s own way of maintaining beneficial customer relations. To ask for more food in Morocco does not necessarily mean voracity, but rather an attempt to establish or maintain special relations with the other.

6)     You’re okay with sharing your food
Sharing food in Morocco is a typical behavior. You may frequently see Moroccans offering to share their food with others, be they people they already know or strangers. Moroccans share their food without anyone asking for some of it. A Moroccan sees in this behavior an act of kindness and thoughtfulness toward others. On the other hand, not sharing one’s food with others may sometimes be deemed impolite or even a reflection of gluttony or indifference.

7)      You believe that bread is sacred
When Moroccans see a piece of bread somewhere in the middle of the road, they tend to pick it up, kiss it and place it in a safe place, away from people’s reckless steps and cars’ smashing wheels. Moroccans believe that bread is very sacred and reflects divine generosity.

8)     You can’t ignore crowds
For a Moroccan, a crowd of people means that:
· There is something entertaining
· There has been a car crash
· There is a fight going on
Moroccans from all walks of life cannot just ignore a crowd without inquiring what is happening—it’s just irresistible.

9)     You laugh hysterically even when a joke is unfunny
Moroccans have a special sense of humor, but their reaction to all that is funny is more special. When someone tells a joke that is not funny, most Moroccans would still laugh to avoid offending the person who made the joke. This also reflects Moroccans’ sense of community.

10)    Anything is worthy of celebration
Moroccans celebrate anything that brings joy to them. If you’re a Moroccan and have just gotten your driving license, for instance, the next thing you should expect is your friends requesting you to throw a party, which, in most cases, simply means inviting them to a meal either at your home or outside. This can also be the case when you pass a test successfully, have a new girlfriend, or are paid your first salary.

Moroccans celebrate anything that brings joy to them. If you’re a Moroccan and have just gotten your driving license, for instance, the next thing you should expect is your friends requesting you to throw a party, which, in most cases, simply means inviting them to a meal either at your home or outside. This can also be the case when you pass a test successfully, have a new girlfriend, or are paid your first salary.

Mysterious Ancient Moroccan Rock Pile Explained.
By Charles Q. Choi, Live Science Contributor   |   April 14, 2014

The origin of the giant pile of boulders a Moroccan village rests precariously on has long mystified scientists. But the mystery has now been solved: the boulders are the result of a catastrophic rockfall that occurred 4,500 years ago in the High Atlas Mountains, scientists find. A glacier apparently made the Moroccan cliffs prone to collapse, suggesting rockfalls elsewhere in the world might be due to a similar process, researchers said.

Scientists analyzed the remains of one of the largest debris fields known in North Africa — the Arroumd rock avalanche at the foot of the northwest face of Mount Aksoual, which stands 12,834 feet (3,912 meters) above sea level in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. A village now sits on top of this rock pile, below a cliff face 6,500 feet (2,000 m) high.

The age and origin of Arroumd have puzzled for more than 135 years. In the past, researchers suggested it was a feature of moraines, or masses of rock and sediment carried and deposited by glaciers. In contrast, study lead author Philip Hughes, a geomorphologist at the University of Manchester in England, had assumed that Arroumd was the result of a rock avalanche that happened soon after a glacier that dominated the valley melted.

To help solve the mystery of Arroumd, Hughes and his colleagues dated the age of the rocks there. They looked at levels of the isotope beryllium-10, which is often formed on Earth when cosmic rays hit quartz in surface rocks. Levels of this isotope can reveal when these rocks were exposed to open air, showing when the deposit formed. (Isotopes of an element have differing numbers of neutrons from one another.)

Arroumd was a difficult place to work, Hughes said. "Several incidents occurred at the site, including some accidents — minor, thankfully — and mystery ailments to those who went there," Hughes said. "I always joke about the 'curse' of the Arroumd landform. This year we encountered severe whirlwinds when entering the valley, just days after the paper was published. We were unable to stand on our feet, which is rather unusual for this part of the world where climate is often hot and calm."

Unexpectedly, the rock avalanche happened long after the glacier melted. "The glacier would have melted before 11,700 years ago, the end of the last ice age," Hughes said. "However, the cliff did not collapse until 4,500 years ago. The rock avalanche was therefore not triggered by glacier retreat."

Instead, the researchers now suggest the avalanche was triggered by seismic activity, sitting as it does close to a major tectonic fault. "I did not anticipate the rock avalanche being so young — I thought it formed in the last ice age," Hughes said. "But I am always ready to challenge and revise, and hopefully improve on, my earlier work. That is science, after all."

Glacial erosion probably did make the cliff face that gave rise to this avalanche excessively steep and prone to collapse. "It may be that some glaciated valleys are waiting to collapse, and the trigger could be either an earthquake, heavy rainfall, or both," Hughes said. "In the European Alps, there is evidence for a similar series of landslides at roughly the same time, and a recent paper has suggested that these landslides are associated with a deluge of heavy rainfall at this time."

As to what danger the village might face, given its precarious location, "I think that now the rock avalanche has happened, the main risks are gone — better to build below a cliff that has collapsed than one waiting to fall," Hughes said. "The village is built using the rocks of the avalanche. It is an amazing place."

The scientists detailed their findings online March 20 in the journal Geological Society of America Bulletin.

Morocco's economy slows to 2.5 pct in Q1 from a year ago.
Tue Apr 15, 2014  RABAT, April 15 (Reuters)

Morocco's economy slowed to 2.5 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, down from 4.5 percent in the previous three months, as agricultural production hit a record high last year, the country's planning agency said on Tuesday. The agency said gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to slow to 2.3 percent in the second quarter, however, as agricultural output would shrink by 3.9 percent from a year earlier. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Hassan Hakmoun's new album evokes the sounds of Morocco.

PRI's The World Reporter Bruce Wallace April 11, 2014

Hassan Hakmoun grew up in the world of gnawa — a people and culture that came to Morocco by way of West Africa.

Gnawa music and dance are often used in long, trance-healing ceremonies — ceremonies Hakmoun's mother and grandfather used to perform in their home in Marrakesh. So Hakmoun became quite the dancer. When a group of international break dancers, visiting Morocco, saw him dance, they were impressed. "After we danced, they all came to me with a translator to talk to me," Hakmoun says. When they asked how he danced like that, "I said, 'when we meet in the states, I'm gonna show you."

That chance encounter led to a dance tour that took him to the United States. In New York City, he found like-minded musicians, eager to explore new sounds. He developed a style that layers rock, jazz and blues on top of the gnawa rhythms and melodies laid down by a three-stringed sintir — a skin-covered bass. In the early 1990s, he recorded an album of his songs with some similarly expansive musicians, including legendary jazz trumpeter Don Cherry.

Soon after, he got a call from England. It was Peter Gabriel. And he wanted to sign Hakmoun.  Hakmoun's answer: "Maybe, but who are you?"

Luckily, Hakmoun's roommate know who Gabriel was, and encouraged him to collaborate with the legendary singer-songwriter, musician, humanitarian activist, and first vocalist for the rock band Genesis.

Hakmoun put an album out on Gabriel's global music label Real World, and spent months touring with him." 

Today, though, Hakmoun sees little use for record labels. He self-released his new album, "Unity," his first in 12 years. The album has all of the rock but less of the polish of some of his earlier albums. That's intentional — he and the producer wanted it to sound more African. In Morocco, sometimes instead of having fancy amplifiers and speakers, the band will be playing through what looks like a huge megaphone.

"They put them on the roof, and they have a wedding and you can hear that sound. It's very special," says Hakmoun. "There's no speakers, nothing — just a big horn and the voice coming out of it. And also some amplifiers there are very old and the sound is different, and raw." 

While the album's sound evokes a certain place, it takes up universal themes that Hakmoun has been mulling for awhile: spirituality and mortality, the senselessness of war. In the song "Hamadiyi," he says a prayer for sisters and brothers who have died.

"Now in Syria, for three years now, and in Ukraine and Russia, they keep going. And to me, the evil, and the satans are watching and happy and excited to see these things," says Hakmoun. "People killing one another over something that actually doesn't belong to no one."

Good supplies for export melon market

The melon season is now in full swing in the French West Indies, Senegal and between Dakhla and Morocco. Volume should stay at this level for another 10 days or so before dropping, but the season will continue into beginning of May. 

Export potential is stable in Guadeloupe/Martinique reaching 3,500 tons. Senegal's exports reached 12,000 tons last year (+8%/2012-2013 and +43%/average 3 years) of which 1,500 tons went to France. Acreage has however dropped in the Dakhla zone, with certain producers stopping due to an unsuccessful 2013 season. Drop in volume in the Agadir zone can be noted, there are less and less producers farming this product. 

Surface is stable, even on a slight rise in Marrakech, in both greenhouses and tunnels.  The season started slightly late in Marrakech but has been deployed since week 15 in greenhouses and should begin after Easter in tunnels. Following Brazil and Costa Rica, Morocco is the number 1 supplier of the EU (47,700 tons in 2012-2013 of which 90% transits in France).  Some volumes have reached Almeria (Galia, Charentais Vert) where surface is reducing annually. 

Melon production is important in Spain (870,000 tons) as Europe's main melon producer with 35% of surface in front of Italy (28%) and France. The Charentais Jaune season could start early in the Murcie zone (10/05) where the potential is on a slight rise and should be a high level due to climate conditions. Most of this zone's production (90%) is reserved for export (164,000 tons in 2013- all types included except watermelon).  Harvest should begin just after Easter in Sicily. Acreage reaches 20,000 ha with a 460,000 ton potential.

Mustapha Buhendi: Muslims, Christians and Jews created a discriminatory discourse
Friday 18 April 2014 Zouhir Chbakou Rabat

The national library in Rabat hosted an academic conference earlier this week on “religious discourse in Morocco between innovation and tradition.” It was organized by the Moroccan Youth Network in collaboration with the Moroccan Center of Youth and Democratic Transition sponsored by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.

Three panelists participated in the colloquium, including Professor Khadija Sabbar, a researcher and activist, Professor Mustapha Buhendi, a lecturer and researcher in comparative religions, and Professor Nourdine Zahi, a sociologist.

The purpose of the event was to highlight the regression of religious discourse in Morocco and to hold a debate on the desperate need for transformation regarding religious discussions.

Professor Sabbar explained the benefits of the Arab Spring regarding the position of women in society and religion, despite the vacillation of religious discourse in many Arab countries. “The Arab uprising led youngsters to ask for change in the position of women in society and religious discourse,” Sabbar said.

Throughout the seminar, the panelists agreed on the importance of creating a stable environment suitable for healthy discussions about religion. The professors also stressed the need to avoid a discourse that would prompt Moroccan youth to make accusations against one another and increase discrimination among Moroccans.

Professor Azahi talked about the importance of changing our perception of religion so we can renovate religious discourse. “Society creates the image of religion,” Azahi said. “While there is one God, we tend to create different images of God depending on the religious discourse,” Azahi explained.

Professor Buhendi added that “religious ideologies are mortal; they must die in order for other religious ideologies to emerge because they are related to certain era only.”

Moreover, he also explained that the books of the Abrahamic religions are addressed to human beings, and that Muslims, Christians and Jews have created the discriminatory discourse that exists to some extent today. According to Professor Buhendi, we should focus on progressive thinking rather than sticking to Islamic regulations.
Edited By Liz Yaslik

For These Moroccan Muslims, Mimouna Isn’t Just a Jewish Thing—It’s Their Heritage, Too.
Members of the Mimouna Club have made it their mission to learn about Jews and Jewish life as a way of learning about themselves
By Aomar Boum|April 18, 2014

Ifrane is a small resort town tucked into Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains about two hours north of the capital, Rabat. It is known as the place where the late King Hassan II hosted Shimon Peres, then Israel’s prime minister, in 1986—a move that earned Hassan II condemnation from his Arab League allies and prompted Syria, under the leadership of Hafez al Assad, to break off relations altogether. Ifrane is also the place where, less than a decade later—in January 1995, to be exact—Yasser Arafat, the former head of the PLO, helped the king inaugurate the Al-Akhawayn University, on the heels of the fifteenth session of the Al-Quds Committee, which took place at the university’s new library.

It is a mere historical coincidence that Ifrane witnessed both events. But Hassan II envisioned Al-Akhawayn—where I happen to have graduated in 1997—as an institution devoted to introducing Moroccan students to diverse religious traditions, cultures, and civilizations through exposure to global humanities and social sciences. So, it is perhaps no coincidence that, in 2007, the university became home to Morocco’s first student club devoted to celebrating the country’s Jewish history and heritage.

The club is called Mimouna, after the traditional Moroccan Jewish post-Passover celebration welcoming the return of leavened bread. For Moroccan Jews, Mimouna signifies the promise of redemption and the hopeful return of the messiah. Israel recognized it as a national holiday in 1966; the Mimouna Club contends that the observance deserves a place in Moroccan culture and society, as a celebration of ethnic diversity. Today, it has foundation status and chapters in Fès, Rabat, Tetouan, and Marrakech.

In December, I met a few members of the foundation in Rabat, where they were preparing to launch a cultural caravan, a 300-mile traveling roadshow about Moroccan Judaism. I asked them why they care about a topic that could potentially bring them nothing but stigma and social rejection. Almost all of them highlighted how little Moroccan youth know about their history and how significant it is for their compatriots beyond the walls of university campuses to embrace Morocco’s cultural diversity.


For many Moroccans, particularly younger ones, the country’s Jewish story is part of the past and has no place in post-independence society. “How could we have a club about Moroccan Jews many of whom occupy Palestinian lands today?” one Mimouna critic in Casablanca whispered to me during a visit I made in 2010. It was an attitude I knew well from my anthropological and ethnographic research on Moroccan Jewish communities—but the social pressure on me as a professional ethnographer was minimal compared to the pressures the student members of Mimouna face. A few acknowledged their frustration and anxiety about being ostracized just because of their interest in learning about Moroccan Judaism—really, about Moroccan history. Recently, the name of one of the Mimouna club members was listed in a public document published online by the Moroccan Observatory Against Normalization with Israel, alongside names such as André Azoulay, an adviser to King Mohammed VI; Driss El-Yazami the president of the National Human Rights Council; and Berber, or Amazigh, activists, some of whom have contact with Israeli institutions, citizens, and other public organizations.

But when I spoke to these students in the course of completing work for a book on the monarchy, Jews, and Holocaust politics in Morocco, I was surprised to find that their interest in the history of Jewish-Muslim relations emerged from their own lives. The majority of them were born and raised in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, and Fès and knew their hometowns had complex histories. Elmehdi Boudra, the co-founder of the club at Al-Akhawayn—who subsequently went on to earn a master’s degree in coexistence and conflict from Brandeis—talked to me about how he never knew, growing up in Casablanca, about the longstanding relations between Jews and Muslims in the old city. Boudra was also inspired by one of the group’s early mentors, Simon Lévy, a renowned linguist of Judeo-Arabic and Judeo-Spanish, a political dissident, and former director of the Jewish Museum of Casablanca who also played major role in Moroccan politics since Independence as one of the leading figures of the Party of Progress and Socialism founded by Ali Ya’ta. Another student, Sami Gaidi, described how he went to school in Rabat with Moroccan Jews with whom he remained in touch; a third, Myriam Mallouk, talked about how she was hosted by a Moroccan Jewish family while studying law in France.

In 1998, in a famous Le Monde Diplomatiquearticle titled “Israel-Palestine: A Third Way,” Edward Said responded to Arab critics after his call for seeking communication with Jewish partners in an article that he published for al-Hayat newspaper in June 1998. Said called on Arabs to engage Jews in a responsible conversation including understanding the Holocaust. “When I mentioned the Holocaust in an article I wrote last November, I received more stupid vilification than I ever thought possible; one famous intellectual even accused me of trying to gain a certificate of good behaviour from the Zionist lobby,” Said wrote. “Of course, I support Garaudy’s right to say what he pleases and I oppose the wretched loi Gayssot under which he was prosecuted and condemned. But I also think that what he says is trivial and irresponsible, and when we endorse it, it allies us necessarily with Le Pen and all the retrograde right-wing fascist elements in French society.”

Mimouna has taken the challenge to heart. In 2011, the club attracted international attention after its members organized a conference on the record of Morocco’s King Mohammed V during World War II, when he resisted orders from the Vichy government to deport Jews living inside the kingdom. For the students, the point of organizing a conference on the Holocaust was to educate their fellow Moroccans about a period when refugees from Europe—many, though not all, Jewish—found shelter in Morocco before the Allies landed at Safi and Casablanca in late 1942. It was, one of them told me, a first step—“which is listening to the other and building a trustworthy relationship and a responsible discussion.” Speakers at the conference included a Holocaust survivor—a first for an Arab university. Within Morocco, Khalid Soufyani and other members of the anti-normalization movement argued that the conference undermined the Palestinians and their fight against Israeli occupation. Even Sion Assidon—a Moroccan Jew and former political dissident, critic of Zionism and Israel, and proponent of the BDS movement—harshly critiqued the club for what he saw as implicitly advocating normalization of relations with Israel.

A year after the Holocaust conference, 16 members of the club took a trip to Israel, where they had a firsthand experience of daily encounters between Jews and Muslims—and the realities of the conflict in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ramallah and other places. They were also able to meet different generations of Moroccan Jews in Israel and the West Bank. The trip was organized in collaboration with Kivunim, a New York-based gap-year program created by Peter Geffen, the founder of the Heschel School on the Upper West Side. Geffen took the students to Jerusalem and Ramallah—and to Ashdod, where they visited a statue to Hassan II that stands in a city park. These young students reflected on the complexities of the conflict as their minds and emotions struggled to bridge the distance between Yad Vashem, Deir Yassin, the Haram al-Sharif, and the Western Wall. Despite the anxieties of the experience, they cherished meeting in person Israelis and American Jews as well as Palestinian Arabs, Christians, and Muslims. When I asked a student if he regretted making the trip after it attracted public criticism, he replied with confidence. “No, I do not regret the trip,” he told me. “I developed a strong friendship with Israelis and Palestinians who work together as we speak now for a possible, just, and peaceful world. It is tough. But the fact of seeing Israeli women standing between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian worker gives me hope.”

These Mimouna youth are no longer alone in the Arab world. On the Jewish side, more American Jewish youth are also building alliances with groups like Mimouna Club, slowly changing the course of conversation about the Arab-Israeli conflict while learning more about the daily struggles, lives, and aspirations of Palestinian and Arab youth. And Palestinian students have also begun to engage in reciprocal actions. In fact, a group of Palestinian students recently made a visit to Auschwitz, led by Mohamed Dajani from al-Quds University. Many called for Dajani’s firing from the university, but Dajani is not new to these controversies. As founder of the Wasatia Mouvement, he has built academic relations with many in Israel and has advocated the teaching of the Holocaust and other cases of genocide in Palestinian schools, even as Palestinians fight for their rights with Israel and the recognition of the Nakba.

Mimouna Club is expanding its activities and networks with larger Moroccan, Arab, and Jewish communities in Europe, Middle East, and the United States. They plan to organize more historical conferences on WWII refugees in Tangiers and a second leg of the cultural caravan and to other Moroccan cities. For these young students, Mimouna is about celebrating difference and finding a cultural middle ground of communication and citizenship in Morocco.

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Aomar Boum is a cultural anthropologist and assistant professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies and Religious Studies Program at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is also affiliated with the University of Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. He is the author of Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco, and is currently working on two ethnographic and historical projects: The Monarchy, Jews and Holocaust Politics, 1930s-Present and Virtual Jews: An Ethnography of Moroccan Jews Online.

North African author exposes a dark spot in Morocco’s history.

Asharq Al-Awsat speaks with Youssef Fadel about the novel that garnered him a nomination for the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, in this fifth in a series of interviews with the shortlisted writers

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—In his latest book, A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me, Moroccan writer Youssef Fadel takes the reader on a vividly imaginative odyssey through a dreary period of Morocco’s history. Fadel’s ninth novel is a fictional testament to the Years of Lead in the 1970s and 1980s, which saw unprecedented levels of government violence against the opposition in Morocco.

Fadel’s handling of this period, on which much ink has already been spilled, is novel in the sense that he employs elements of fantasy and the supernatural. While it is true that it sheds light on government violations in Morocco’s secret prisons, A Rare Blue Bird is awash with what Fadel calls “patriarchal violence”: the “ordinary injustice” practiced outside prison, on the streets, at schools and in families. For Fadel, systematic violence in prison is nothing but an “echo” of that which is perpetrated outside.

Considered by critics as a sequel to A Beautiful White Cat that Walks with Me—a claim Fadel disputes in this interview—Fadel’s most recent novel traces a complex narrative network consisting of six voices. Each of which recounts a different side of the story of Aziz, a pilot whose passion for the open, blue sky lands him in an abysmal jail. Ignorant of Aziz’s whereabouts, his wife, Zina, embarks on an 18-year quest to find the husband she was separated from on her wedding day.

Asharq Al-Awsat : A Rare Blue Bird that Flies with Me is a delicate title whose poetic aestheticism stands in stark contrast with the cruelty and brutality we see in the novel. What is the relationship between the title and the content of the novel?

Youssef Fadel: The relationship between the title and the novel is similar to that between the protagonist, his past and his future: the pilot, the plane and the bird. [The protagonist] plunges to the bottom, to the nadir of the inferno—the bottom that opens into space. One has no choice but to spread your their and fly; whether in reality or fiction, it makes no difference.

Q: You had a personal experience in prison. Could you tell us about this experience and how it impacted your work as a novelist?

Imprisonment is always a tough experience, particularly at the beginning. Torture and interrogation could take place at any time, day or night. While your body refuses food, your inmate, who happens to come before you, devours your meal ravenously. You do not know where you are or how long you are going to stay, until one day you do not remember when you entered prison. You share with your jailor a mouthful of bread and some passing jokes.

Later, within the extreme confines of the most barbaric manifestations of this human experience, you find out that you can get used to it, and this is the most terrible aspect of the experience. Later on, following your release—having passed all this time—the experience would undoubtedly have an impact somehow. I have never wondered—nor do I find it necessary to—about the way in which my experience in prison has infiltrated my literary career.

Q: A Rare Blue Bird is the second novel in the trilogy that deals with the Years of Lead, after A Beautiful White Cat that Walks with Me. Can you tell us about the difference between the two works, and also your forthcoming novel that deals with the same period?

When I was writing A Beautiful White Cat that Walks with Me, I was not thinking about it as a part of a trilogy. I even find the term “trilogy” an exaggeration. What is common between these two works and the forthcoming one is that they all cover the same period, the 1980s. We might call it a trilogy figuratively, without necessarily having incidents or characters in common, as is the case with the previous works.

Q: What distinguishes your recent novel from the mainstream Arab prison literature is the element of fantasy. Instead of only portraying Aziz’s suffering in prison, you show him growing and spreading his wings before flying off, in an epic scene reminiscent of the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Can you tell us about your use of fantasy in A Rare Blue Bird?

Personally speaking, I believe that the entire experience [of the protagonist] is a fantasy: For the protagonist to start in the sky and end up in hell, to kiss his wife after 26 years of marriage, to spend his days searching for a treasure in a cell that is 6 meters square, and for a woman to spend her life searching for her man. That the remaining elements identify with each other and melt into a one nightmarish atmosphere is no less normal. The situation we were in was a pure fantasy, leaving one with no choice but to flee for their life.

And [stylistic] matters are not a choice that the writer makes. They are forms that impose themselves and take shape in the characters’ behavior before [the writer’s] consciousness. For me, there is no other way of writing this novel. If one is to argue in different terms, one question arises: How is one to make of such events—which have been much discussed, heavily reported by newspapers, and elaborated on in the diaries of those who left prison alive and in their televised testimonies—a completely new novel?

Q: A Rare Blue Bird highlights dictatorship and violence outside prison by presenting a number of tyrannical figures, such as the pimp, Juju, the domineering father and the cruel uncle. Do you have anything to say to that?

What we see inside prison is nothing but an echo of what happens outside. We live in a society where patriarchal violence is committed excessively in the street, at school and in the family. Whether in [one’s] behavior or education, consciously or unconsciously, there are minor and major dictatorships with unknown victims falling and distorted histories being written. The writer attempts to throw light on the hidden aspects of ordinary injustice.

Q: The use of spoken Moroccan dialect in the novel is remarkable. Don’t you think this risks distancing the book from your readers in the Mashreq?

In these two novels in particular I only rarely used the spoken Moroccan dialect, preferring to limit the dialogue to a basic form and use the indirect style, which imparts a touch of dynamism to the novel. In addition, the spoken dialect is not so detached from classical Arabic—only in a few cases.

Exceptional Moroccans Entered in the Guinness Book of World Records
Sunday 13 April 2014

Between the front and back covers of the Guinness Book of World Records lie pages immortalizing the stories of four Moroccans with the honor of joining the world’s record breakers by virtue of their “unusual” qualities. Most of us have dreamed of some mention in the Guinness Book of World Records, etching our names in history, but the sobering truth is that this legacy is reserved for the truly unique.

The late King Moulay Ismail of Morocco, is one such figure whose name deserves mention in the Book of World Records for having fathered a total of 525 sons and 342 daughters. Moulay Ismaïl Ibn Sharif, who ruled Morocco from 1672 to 1727, was the first Moroccan to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.  The 18th century Moroccan ruler holds the record number of offspring for any man in history.

Sultan Moulay Ismail holds the record for the greatest number of descendants. According to the Guinness Book of World Records,” Ismaïl fathered 888 children.”

Based on a report by Dominique Busnot, a French diplomat who frequently traveled to Morocco, “the sultan may have actually fathered  1,171 children from four wives and 500 concubines by 1704. At that time, Ismaïl was 57 and had ruled for 32 years”  ( Live Science). The same source reports that scientists suggest it was possible for the sultan to have fathered this number of children “if he had sex about once a day for 32 years.  He certainly had enough women with whom to impregnate.”

In 1979, Tahar Douis, Moroccan wrestler and circus entertainer earned a Guinness World Record by carrying the heaviest human pyramid on his shoulders. According to Guinness official  website, Tahar Douis supported “12 members of the Hassani Troupe (three levels in height) weighing 771 kg (1,700 lb) on his shoulders, at BBC TV studios in Birmingham, UK on December 17 1979.” Born in the 1950s in Marrakesh, Tahar Douis joined the street performers in Jamaa el Fna —the main square of Marrakesh, visited by locals and tourists— at the age of 6.  When turned 16, Tahar moved to London, where he began performing with Circus Hassani.

In the 1980s, Tahar Douis met with the American Wrestler Bob Tiger who was impressed by the circus strong man. Tiger then convinced Tahar to go with him to Las Vegas, where he would set up a new Circus crew and become a professional wrestler. Tahar Douis is also “legendary for hypnotizing alligators and then putting his head in their mouths.”

Khalid Takouillah, was born in Guelmim in 1982 and has made his way to the Guinness book for having the world’s largest pair of feet. According to the Guinness official  website, cases of elephantiasis excluded, “the biggest feet currently known are those of Brahim Takioullah (Morocco, b.1982) whose left foot measures 38.1 cm (1 ft 3 in) and right foot measures 37.5 cm (1 ft 2.76 in).” The measurements were taken in Paris, on May 24, 2011. Brahim Takioullah is also the 2nd tallest man (after Sultan Kösen). He was measured by Dr Philippe Chanson, according to Guinness. Khalid who currently live in Paris, had a massive growth spurt during his teens, growing three feet in just one year.  No one thought to investigate his unusual size until he was 18.

Morocco’s Hicham El Guerroug or “King of the Mile” was born in Berkan in 1974. He is recorded in history as the greatest middle distance runner of all time. In 1997, Hicham El Guerrouj set a new indoor best of 3:48.45 in the mile run in Belgium, a record undefeated to this day. In 1999, El Guerrouj broke a second record, after he timed 4:44.79 in the 2000-meter outdoor in Germany. He is the current holder of the 1500-meter,  mile and outdoor 2000-meter world records. “The King of the Mile” is the only athlete to have won the gold in the 1500-meter run three times in a row.  In 2004, he retired at the completion of the Athens Olympics, after winning gold in both the 1500-meter and the 5000-meter races.
Edited by Sahar Kian

Sufi festival inspires young Moroccans.
By Siham Ali in Fes for Magharebia – 18/04/2014

The Fes Festival of Sufi Culture, which runs through Saturday (April 19th) in Morocco's spiritual capital, is more than just entertainment. At a time of growing fundamentalism and radicalism, Sufi Islam can combat backward ideology, participants and visitors agree. The annual celebration "allows people to discover the spiritual heritage of Sufism in Morocco and the world in its various cultural, spiritual and social forms of expression", festival director Faouzi Skalli explains. "Dozens of artists and visitors of various nationalities come every year to celebrate peace and tolerance," says Curro Piñana, a performer from Spain.

The eighth edition of the week-long event is dedicated to Arab-Andalusian mystic and philosopher Muhyiddin Ibn Al Arabi. But the many Sufi brotherhoods, including the young singers from the Tariqa Boutchichiya, are the heart of the festival.

The goal of all participants is to encourage peace and tolerance, says Abdelwahed Afilal, a member of the national Samaa ensemble. "Sufism is an experience that purifies the soul. Perfection comes with learning and perseverance," he says.

Morocco has always paid particular attention to Sufism, through several Brotherhoods throughout the country, sociologist Samira Kassimi told Magharebia. "These brotherhoods play a very important role in the spread of knowledge, best practice and the principles of tolerance and peace," she said.

The festival's organisers say that Morocco's Sufi religious brotherhoods have acquired international influence over time and formed many branches in different countries. "The roles of these Sufi paths of learning, civic and spiritual education, commitment to human development and peace mediation, in addition to a deep and creative cultural legacy, have formed a model for Islamic culture in Morocco," Skalli says.

The Fes festival "marries the spiritualism of Sufism with social action", sociologist Maria Sanoussi notes.

Exposing young people to Sufi Islam may help deter them from extremism, she says. Many of them are being encouraged by their families to move towards the Sufi path. "Experience has shown that they have been able to make a success of their future and live in harmony with their principles and goals," she adds.

Hicham Sibari, 28, discovered the path of Sufism five years ago, thanks to his uncle. "I never miss the Sufi music festival in Fes, even though I live in Agadir," he tells Magharebia. "Following the path of Sufism enabled me to find spiritual peace and move forward in my personal life and my career at a time when I was lost," he adds. His friend Hamza points out: "Sufism can prevent young people from becoming easy prey for religious fanatics, who have no hesitation in exploiting them to achieve their devilish goals."

Hamza knows what he is talking about; one of his friends almost stumbled onto the path of extremism. "Luckily, he found people close to him who helped him climb out of the abyss of fanaticism," he says.

In Morocco, reporting about terrorism is akin to inciting it
By Ilhem Rachidi , Correspondent / April 4, 2014

Ali Anouzla, a leading Moroccan journalist, and his news website Lakome are under fire for linking to an Al Qaeda propaganda video. Anouzla says it is an excuse to silence a government critic.

Read more here:

Morocco’s Ouarzazate: A Tourist City without Noise
Saturday 19 April 2014

Morocco is well known for its diversity in many ways, making it an attractive destination to foreigners who enjoy discovering diverse cultures, climates, geographical landscapes etc.

Apart from the well-known big cities of Morocco, the small cities and oases of south-east region, such as Ouarzazate, Kelaa Megouna, Bomalne Dades, Tinghir, Zagoura and Arfoud are causes for wonder. While these cities have certain commonalities, including culture and dialect of Tamazight language; their landscapes range…..

Read more here:

Moroccan Bastilla at Alzohour Market: Eat This Now.
By Lauren Saria Fri., Apr. 11 2014

When it comes to hidden gems, Alzohour Market is about as good as it gets. Located just west of the I-17 off Northern, this Middle Eastern and Moroccan grocery/clothing store greets customers with a a few rows of shelves stocked rather haphazardly with chocolates, canned goods, and spices. And if that was all there was then this place would be nothing special. But off to the left side of the market, there's a small room separated by a short half wall where you can sit down and enjoy a meal of made-to-order Moroccan eats including chicken and lamb tangine and couscous.

Owner Zhor Saad will probably be the only one working the restaurant so be patient when it comes to the service. Saad does everything from greeting customers to cooking the food and delivering it a smile to your table. You'll want to start your meal with a cup, or maybe even a pot, of the hot mint tea, which she pours dramatically from the pot to your cup about a foot below.

Along with the mint tea we suggest ordering one of the restaurant's appetizers as the main entrees can take a while to come out of the kitchen. The creamy Lebne dip, made with yogurt, olive oil, dry mint, garlic, and spices isn't a bad way to start. But the better choice is to order the falafel, which comes with eight doughnut-shaped pieces for $6.99. Saad makes them with a smooth and flavorful mixture of ground garbanzo beans with parsley, onions, cilantro, and garlic. Combined with the cool tzatziki sauce they make a great, but filling appetizer.

Then onto the bastilla.

Bastilla, which can also be spelled "pastilla" or "b'stilla," is a Moroccan dish that traditionally features pigeon meat made into a sweet and savory pie. At Alzohour and most other restaurants these days the meat pie is made with shredded chicken.It's listed on the menu as an entree but is easily big enough to share or even split between a group as an appetizer so do as you see best.

Saad will deliver the dish to your table on an ornate and colorful dish along with a large knife. The homemade phyllo dough pie comes covered in a generous dusting of cinnamon and powdered sugar. They provide a sweet balance to the pie's salty filling of chicken, almonds, and spices. The smell alone was enough to make our mouths water, but the flavors of crisp, buttery phllyo dough mixed with the spiced chicken made for a truly unique dining experience.

The entree will set you back a substantial $20 but the serving size is easily enough to justify the price. Oh and on your way out be sure to stop by the pastry case too, where you'll find trays of handmade baklava and other desserts.

Alzohour Market
7814 N 27th Ave., Phoenix

Mon. - Sat.: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sun.: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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