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Morocco Week in Review 
March 31, 2018

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Visionaries Then and Now Thomas

A recent trip to Morocco was my seventeenth volunteer assignment with America USAID's "Farmer to Farmer" program.  What made this one different is that the time horizon will play out over decades as opposed to weeks and months.  Individual and group ingenuity is creating a landscape of trees, much like the San Joaquin valley of California, which was a dusty and arid plain.  Visionaries need to be recognized so that their visions can materialize.  I hope you will publish this story of people making a difference.

In the 1980’s, a solo American made a huge impact on Ouaouizerth, Morocco, an Amazigh village, located in the western High Atlas Mountains. His name was J. Christopher Stevens, a Peace Corps. Volunteer and yes the same J. Christopher Stevens, who as American Ambassador in Libya, was killed in the raid on Benghazi in September 11, 2012. Chris is still remembered here as the husky American that lived by the community’s Muslim traditions even though he wasn’t a Muslim. He was well known locally because he always was respectful and open to the town’s people.

He learned Arabic from Lhoussin Waali, at the time a local grocery owner, who he in turn taught English. One of the ways he taught Lhoussin English was having him listen to BBC radio broadcasts. Lhoussin remembers how he and Chris would often discuss the similarities between the Muslim and Christian faiths. The Arabic that Chris learned here helped inspire his career in the Arab world. Chris also was active with kids, teaching English at the local youth center. He was so dedicated to helping the people of Quaouizerth he stayed with them an extra year in the Peace Corps. He was known locally principally by his last name, Stevens. People recall how Stevens would be invited to tea at someone house and he’d walk there regardless of the distance. He left behind the gift of knowledge. There was great sadness in the village of Ouaouizerth when they heard about Stevens’s death on television.

Thirty years later an American nonprofit organization founded by former Peace Corp veterans has honored Chris’s memory by bringing farming solutions to mostly agricultural Ouaouizerth. The High Atlas Foundation, founded by Yossef Ben-Meir of New Mexico, recently dedicated a tree nursery, just outside of town, to the memory of Chris Stevens. The nursery grows almonds and olive seedlings for transplanting. The High Atlas grows these seedlings to give to local farmers at no cost. The farmers’ Cooperative (called Adrar, or mountain) provides the land for the new orchard and High Atlas supplies the trees and expertise to successfully start the new Orchardists on their way.

While the Stevens-inspired nursery serves the Ouaouizerth area; the High Atlas Foundation currently maintains eleven tree nurseries all over Morocco, partnering with the social business, Ecosia, to replicate this activity to most regions of the country. This is the modern version of “Give a man a fish with the he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish he’ll be fed for a lifetime”. In Ouaouizerth village the High Atlas Foundation nursery caretaker is Hicham Farhat and he has become the pied piper of tree growing to the town‘s people, especially the school children. This week Hicham showed up at the grade school and he and the kids planted olive trees to enhance the school’s courtyard. His enthusiasm was only exceeded by the kid’s joy and excitement as they helped to plant the trees.

The High Atlas Foundation is dedicated to the single mission of growing seedlings and distributing them to growers who can use them but can’t generally afford them. Since each different region has its own growing conditions a variety of trees are grown in the High Atlas nurseries and include carob, walnut, pomegranate, cherry, fig, Argan, and date palm in addition to the previously mentioned almonds and olives. High Atlas has become the “Johnny Appleseed of Morocco” except with more than just one tree to choose from.

As you can imagine, the Moroccan government is an enthusiastic supporter with land contributions to this program, but does not contribute financial support. The primary financial support comes from individual donors and grants (such as from Ecosia). The Ouaouizerth nursery’s establishment in 2013 was appropriately made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Scientific Research. The obvious benefits are to the growers who plant the trees but the hard to quantify “Green” contributions are substantial. Creating “forests” of orchards creates a carbon displacement mechanism to go along with oxygen generation and erosion prevention. All the nurseries use drip irrigation, a 21st century technology, which is right at home in an arid nation with no water resources to spare.

The actions of the High Atlas Foundation fulfill the spirit of what J. Christopher Stevens stood for thirty plus years ago. He had the desire to make things better for Moroccans. The concept of growing and giving away trees is a unique effort, happening only in Morocco. Just as “Stevens” did his best for Moroccans so does High Atlas with its ambitious goal of covering the country with fruit and nuts trees.

Writing this article I realized I too had joined the work of other Americans who have acted in Morocco. My career was spent in irrigation and in Morocco no orchards grow without water. Adding a water component to High Atlas efforts means that the orchards will survive and thrive.

Tom Kimmell is the retired Executive Director of the Irrigation Association, who now volunteers for the "Farmer to Farmer" program created by the US Congress.  Morocco is part of the program and is managed by Land O’ Lakes International Development.On the 7th of March 2018, Tom Kimmell, a USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer, planted almond trees with students of Ouaouizerth Middle and High School (Morocco), where the late Ambassador Chris Stevens taught English when he was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the early 1980s. (Photo by the High Atlas Foundation)   Thomas Kimmell  Marrakech  USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer

Abused Morocco woman creates anti-harassment app

March 23, 2018

Four years ago Nidal Azhari and her friends were harassed verbally in the Moroccan city of Meknes with a man catcalling “A zine, manchoufouch?’ (Hey beautiful, can I see you?”).
Azhari managed to sue her attacker for harassment and he received a prison sentence as a result. This spurred Azhari, president of the Free Feminist Union (UFL), to create a mobile application called Manchoufouch in 2016. The first of its kind in Morocco, the app was launched yesterday on the second anniversary of the launch of UFL. The app, available on Google Play in both the Moroccan Arabic dialect of Darija as well as in French, will be used as a tool to fight harassment and lift the taboo around sexual abuse………………….

“Manchoufouch” Denounces Sexual Harassment in Morocco

By Morocco World News March 22, 2018 By Hajare El Khaldi Rabat

The Free Feminist Union, known under its French acronym (UFL), launched the first mobile application against violence based on gender and sexuality in Morocco, on March 21. The association held a press conference in order to present the various features of this new platform called “Manchoufouch”, “can we see you?” an infamous Moroccan catcalling phrase, which intends to fight against sexual violence and street harassment in the country………………….
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These Female-only Tours in the Middle East Let You Bond With the Women Who Live There

Katie Lockhart  March 23, 2018

Sitting in the warm Sahara sand, watching the sun dip below the dunes, surrounded by a group of female travelers and friends is an inspirational, maybe even life-changing moment.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Intrepid Travel has made it a little bit easier to experience these moments in the Middle East with their limited-edition female-only tours to Morocco, Jordan, and Iran.........

Equal Inheritance Rights, Next Battle for Morocco’s Women

Morocco March 23, 2018

The resignation of Asma Lamrabet from the league of Moroccan Muslim scholars (Rabita Mohammedia) because of her support for equal inheritance rights between men and women sent shockwaves across the country, causing the debate over gender and inheritance in Morocco to resurface. The current Moroccan inheritance law is based on traditional Islamic jurisprudence of Ta’sib, which grants women half of what it gives men in inheritance, while making men financially responsible for women.

Modernists within the official religious establishment such as Lamrabet have on multiple occasions called for revisiting the traditional texts and adapting current jurisdiction on inheritance to the social and economic changes that have taken place in the Moroccan society where women work and contribute to the creation of wealth on an equal footing with men. Hence the need for an equal distribution of inheritance instead of the current law deemed anachronistic…………………..
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Essaouira’s Gnaoua and World Music Festival to Celebrate 21st Anniversary

By Morocco World News March 26, 2018 Rabat

The 21st edition of Gnaoua and World Music Festival , will begin on Thursday, June 21, through Saturday, June 23 in the coastal city of Essaouira.
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Cybersouth Project Targets Cybercrime in Morocco

By Morocco World News March 26, 2018  By Hajare El Khaldi Rabat

Morocco will benefit from an EUR 3.35 million project that aims to tighten legislation on cybercrime in the European Union’s “Southern Neighborhood.” This initiative is a joint project between the European Union and the Council on Cooperation Against Cybercrime, financed under the European Neighborhood Instrument that started on July 1, 2017………..
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Set In 1950s Morocco, 'Tangerine' Is A Dark Tale Of Twisted Love

By editor Mar 25, 2018 LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
A dark tale of twisted love in a foreign land. The book "Tangerine" recalls films by Hitchcock and stories like "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Set in the 1950s during the waning days of French rule in Morocco, the plot centers around a vulnerable heiress, her ne'er-do-well husband and an old college friend with many secrets. Joining us now to talk about it is the author, Christine Mangan. This is her debut novel. Welcome to the program………….
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Moroccan-set 'Tangerine' combines elements of Tartt, Highsmith and Bronte

By Holly Silva Special to the Post-Dispatch (book review)

In the 1960s, Daniel Halpern was studying poetry in California when he met Paul Bowles, the expatriate American author based in Tangier, Morocco. The two men launched a literary magazine in Tangier; that magazine evolved into a literary press, Ecco, in 1971. Ecco is credited with nurturing prominent voices in fiction and poetry: Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Ford, T.C. Boyle, Louise Gluck, Tobias Wolff and Russell Banks, to name a few. Before being acquired by Harper Collins in 1999, Ecco was also known for its lean budget. “Tangerine” is a person from Tangier, where Christine Mangan’s novel is set, and thus has sentimental pull for Ecco, where Daniel Halpern is still at the helm. Mangan opens her tale in 1956, just before Morocco wins independence, when the occupying “French are everywhere” and Tangerines “are tired of belonging to someone else.”……

Fez: 10 Things to Do in Morocco’s Cultural and Spiritual Centre.

Must-do activities to try on a trip to Morocco’s second city.
Liz Hoggard

It’s easy to see why Fez’s walled medina (the oldest in Africa) is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Located in the foothills of the Middle Atlas mountains, it ranks among Morocco’s best preserved cities, complete with dusty streets, faded palaces and candle-lit riad courtyards. A quarter of a million people live and work in this section of the city, which was built some 1,200 years ago. There are no large-build hotels and resorts and it’s the world’s largest car-free urban area………………………
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Confreries: A Crossroads of Morocco’s Literary and Spiritual Diversity

By Morocco World News March 28, 2018  By Hajare El Khaldi Rabat

Between Sufi spirituality and literature, these confreries reflect glimpses into Morocco, from the practical to the obscure. Gutenberg’s Companions in Morocco

The Moroccan franchise of the Brotherhood of the Gutenberg Companions represents a non-spiritual organization that brings together writing enthusiasts who believe in the power of words in spreading the values of coexistence and peace. Since its creation in 2010, the Moroccan section of the Gutenberg Companion has performed several actions to realize  its mission, such as creating school libraries to encourage extracurricular reading among the youth. This fellowship includes renowned Moroccan personalities, such as André Azoulay, Senior Adviser to Mohammed VI; Abderrahmane El Youssoufi, politician and former prime minister; Fathia Bennis, CEO of the Central Security Depository of Securities Marocclear; and Neila Tazi, Vice-President of the House of Councilors and member of the Education, Cultural and Social Affairs Committee…………….
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How an education crisis is hurting Morocco's poor

Unsuccessful attempts at reform and the growth of private schools are hurting underprivileged families.
by Ahmed El Amraoui 7 Mar 2018 Rabat, Morocco

Overcrowding, the lack of an efficient strategy and poor administration are harming public schools in Morocco and diminishing the opportunities available to underprivileged children, experts, teachers and students have told Al Jazeera.
The crisis in the education sector comes despite repeated efforts by successive governments to reform the archaic system.
Meanwhile, social disparity is widening with the growth of private schools as higher-income families increasingly opt to pay for better services, threatening those who rely on free and quality education…………….
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Amid racism claims, state to open archives on Jewish North African immigration

PM makes records accessible following TV series documenting systematic abuses against Moroccans in early years of Israel

By TOI staff 25 March 2018,

The government on Sunday said it would open state archives on the mass immigration to Israel from North Africa in the early years of the state after a television series documented systematic, historical racism toward the newcomers. The cabinet approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to give public access to all the archival material regarding the integration of large numbers of immigrants in the early years of the State of Israel, his office said. ….

Island Bites: ‘Besseha, Shelter Island!’

by David Lapham

I’ll never forget the gastronomic jolt I experienced when I first tried Moroccan food. I was 17-years-old and spending a semester at the American School of Tangier. On the very first day, a classmate and I wandered off campus and had lunch at a tiny café full of men smoking hookahs and drinking hot mint tea. I remember having couscous and being completely surprised by the complex flavors of mint, cumin and other spices that to this day I can’t identify. And it was during my time in Morocco that I learned to expand my definition of what constituted a “salad.” That’s because, as in Morocco, it’s more typical for salads in northwestern African countries to be made from foods other than lettuce. One of the most popular ingredients for salads over there is carrots, both raw and cooked. Often served as an accompaniment to couscous or shish kababs, these tasty salads are complex yet simple to prepare……………
Recipes here:

Will Morocco's new law protect women from violence?

Legislation criminalises violence against women, but some claim law falls short, leaving domestic abuse victims at risk.
by Ahmed El Amraoui 8 Mar 2018 Rabat, Morocco

A new law in Morocco criminalising violence towards women has divided opinion, with some observers applauding the legislation as progress while critics claim some women would still be left at risk. Until recently, women were vulnerable to various types of violence in private and public spheres, including rape, sexual harassment and domestic abuse. Much of this abuse had gone unreported, with such incidents considered private matters and not criminal. In a bill approved by parliament on February 14 after years of debate among political parties, civil and women's rights groups, the new law defines violence against women as "any act based on gender discrimination that entails physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm to a woman. It also criminalises cyber harassment and forced marriage"……….
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Does Morocco's strict abortion law need reform?

Doctors and activists demand action with over 25,000 unwanted babies born a year and as dangerous abortions continue.
by Ahmed El Amraoui & Maha Naami  25 Feb 2018 Casablanca, Morocco

About two years ago, Zohra's boyfriend abandoned her when he discovered she was pregnant. Suddenly, she was faced with an unwanted pregnancy. In Morocco, abortion is criminalised and punishable by prison and fines, except in the cases of married women whose medical reports prove that the pregnancy carries a physical threat. Even in such cases, a husband's approval is mandatory."I wish for no woman to go through my misery. I did not have a choice and I endeavoured a lot," says the 34-year-old from Casablanca, who decided not to terminate the pregnancy.………………………

‘The role of the writer is to break the silence’.

By Local sponsor March 23, 2018, story is brought to you by the Bay Area Book Festival.

Women spent 18 weeks at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List in 2017. The remaining 34 weeks were dominated by men. This disparity, paired with sexual misconduct accusations against renowned male novelists, sends a clear message: the literary world is not insulated from the gender bias and harassment that has rocked Hollywood, government, and service work. In response to this #MeToo moment, the Bay Area Book Festival has created Women Lit, a collective of women helping to bring female writers to the festival this April 28-29, and year-round through a public event series. Women Lit will present a special event at the Berkeley Repertory Theater on April 8: Leila Slimani, internationally best-selling author of The Perfect Nanny, will discuss her subversive novel and the urgency of female writers and woman-centered narratives. Slimani dives directly into fears and taboos. Similarly, her nonfiction work, Sex and Lies, not yet translated into English, has not shied from difficult conversation, shining a spotlight on the sexual lives of women in Morocco, where premarital sex is a criminal offense. She notes that female writers “should not be imprisoned by this idea of being a woman voice but at the same time you have to think that for centuries women couldn’t write. Women couldn’t publish. A woman who wanted to publish needed to take a man’s name.”………..

My Moroccan Passover traditions

By NATASHA COOPER-BENISTY (My Jewish Learning via JTA)
The seders of my adult life are quite different than those I experienced in my youth. The main reason for this is that I am married to a Moroccan Israeli who has rich traditions from which to draw. Early in our marriage, my husband experienced his first Ashkenazic seders at my parents’ home. However, once we decided that we were ready to host our own seders, we happily merged customs from both of our backgrounds to create our family experience.
Unique Customs
Perhaps the most unique Moroccan custom of our seder occurs early on when the head of the household — in my husband’s family, his mother would do this —holds the seder plate over the head of each guest separately and chants the following: “Bibhilu yatṣanu mi’miṣrayim, halacḥma ‘anya bené ḥorin.” This roughly translates to the following: “In haste, we went out of Egypt with our bread of affliction and now we are free.”
I have taken on this unusual ritual, which has become one of the highlights of our seder.
Connected To The Kabbalah
Our Ashkenazic friends love this tradition, and with a glass seder plate it is even more entertaining!.......................
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The first vegetable towers of Africa in Morocco

In addition to its futuristic appearance and its many innovations, especially in irrigation and plant care, the concept has an argument of choice.

Devdiscourse News Desk 29 Mar 2018

When one thinks of Casablanca, come to mind the Hassan II mosque, the Twin Center, the Zevaco dome or the Liberty building, commonly known as the 17-story building. 
From now on, a new building should find its place among these emblematic places of the economic capital and give a new breath to the white city. Inaugurated this Tuesday, March 27, the very first vegetation tower of Africa and the Middle East, signed Yasmine Real Estate, is a real architectural feat, as per HuffPost. 
Built on 16th floors, the first of the four towers planned within the project "Plant Tours", was inaugurated yesterday morning in the presence of Omar Berrada, deputy general manager of Yasmine Real Estate and a panel of journalists. The result of several years of R & D, this concept gives a new impetus to the urban landscape Casablanca with a vision of architecture that dusted the genre……………..
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Casablanca is still best in Black & White

Fashion photographer Daniel Holfeld tells our fashion editor how he went to Morocco for work and fell hopelessly in love with the country. Driven to pay homage to its architecture, his striking images go on exhibit next month

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