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Morocco Week in Review 
February 15, 2020

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Morocco Launches First Interactive Digital Center in North Africa

By Yahia Hatim - Feb 12, 2020 Rabat

Morocco has launched its first Interactive Digital Center (IDC Morocco) at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Benguerir, around 75 kilometers north of Marrakech. The inauguration ceremony took place on Tuesday, February 11. The center is a public-private collaboration between the university, the Ministry of Digital Economy, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Digital Development Agency (ADD), the Mohammed V University of Rabat, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Minister: Morocco’s Higher Education Reform Will Boost the Economy

Recent development plans for Morocco’s higher education system are set to boost the country’s place in the global economic rankings.

By Steven Goodwin - Feb 6, 2020 Rabat

The improvement of the quality of higher education systems in the MENA region is a “necessity” to face the global economy, said Morocco’s Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Delegate, Driss Ouaouicha. In October 2019, Morocco’s Education Minister Said Amzazi said that education is the “lifeblood of the country’s new development model,” and that for Morocco to develop economically as a nation it is necessary to boost education performance and teaching quality. Many development plans are in line to improve the qer educaitonuality of Moroccan higher education in 2020 to better prepare the nation for the competitive global economy.

Arabic Works Dominate Uptick in Moroccan Publications

Despite being an official language of Morocco, Tamazight (Berber language)is poorly represented in Moroccan editorial production.

By  Morgan Hekking  - Feb 10, 2020 Rabat

A new report shows a slight increase in Morocco’s editorial activity in 2018 and 2019, with the country producing and publishing over 4,200 documents during the period, largely in Arabic. The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Islamic Studies and Human Sciences, a non-profit organization that promotes research in social sciences and Arab-Islamic studies, released the figures on Wednesday, February 5, ahead of the International Book and Publishing Fair in Casablanca.  The figures show an increase of only 1.75% compared to 2017/2018. However, this uptick contributes to the steady increase in Morocco’s editorial activity recorded over the past five years.

Meet Mushima: Women Weaving Ethics into Fashion

A social mission brand with a passion for traditional artistry, Mushmina is helping Moroccan women to achieve financial independence and personal empowerment one handmade carpet at a time.

By Morgan Hekking - Feb 8, 2020 Rabat

In a world that seems to be dominated by fast-fashion giants like Forever 21 and Fashion Nova, it can be easy to get wrapped up in a culture of constant trend-chasing.  Growing alongside the thundering tidal wave of cheap materials and underpaid labor, however, is a strong undercurrent urging consumers to consider thrift-shopping, upcycling, and seeking out “slow” fashion brands that emphasize sustainable, ethical practices over profit.  One such brand is Mushmina.

In Morocco, Cancer Is More Than an Illness, It’s a Crippling Fear

My dear father never disappointed me. He was exceptionally tough throughout his last three years, enduring pain and discomfort with an open heart until the end.

By Hamza Bailla is a freelance journalist and researcher interested in digital media, politics, and interfaith dialogue. Feb 9, 2020 Rabat

I will never forget the day when a doctor had to tell my father the results of his prostate biopsy, a painful and necessary procedure he underwent to determine if he had cancer. The doctor gave me the news in private, but he hesitated to tell my father. It is common in Morocco for families and medical staff to tiptoe around the word “cancer” because of the fear surrounding the word. Instead, they use terms like tumor, mass, illness, or other medical terms in French. Knowing my father, I thought he needed to hear the diagnosis from his doctor directly. He was not used to going to the hospital, even when it is necessary, so I needed him to get the seriousness of his case to follow through on treatment.

Study: Morocco on the Right Track to Reach Development Objectives.

The majority of Moroccan business leaders are satisfied with the progress Morocco has made in the business sectors and are optimistic about what the future holds.

By Yahia Hatim - Feb 8, 2020 Rabat

Morocco’s current efforts and future reforms should be enough to help the country reach its development objectives, revealed the 2019 report on Morocco by the Oxford Business Group (OBG). According to OBG, the confidence of Moroccan businesses remains solid, despite the challenges facing the development of Morocco’s economy. Over the past ten years, Morocco has strengthened the foundations of its economy through a series of major initiatives such as the Green Morocco Plan and the Industrial Acceleration Plan.

The initiatives improved Morocco’s business climate. According to the report’s Morocco CEO Survey, the majority of Moroccan business owners are “very optimistic about the economic outlook for the next 12 months.” In the survey, OBG experts interviewed business leaders from various sectors in order to record their impressions of Morocco’s business environment and the short-term economic prospects. Business leaders answered a series of questions in face-to-face interviews. The answers informed a better understanding of the obstacles to economic development and the challenges facing Morocco, notes the report.

Midelt Hiloula: Moroccan Jews Celebrate Solidarity with Monarchy

By Morocco World News - Feb 9, 2020 Rabat

Members of the Moroccan Jewish community convened last night in Toulal, a town in central Morocco’s Midelt province, to celebrate the Hiloula, or anniversary day of death, of Rabbi Itshak Abihssira.  The governor of Midelt province, Mustapha Ennouhi, attended some of the festivities, along with the wali of the Draa-Tafilalet region, Bouchaab Yahdih, and several civil and military personalities.  The Moroccan Jewish audience recited religious songs and expressed their unwavering attachment to the Moroccan spirit and to the monarchy, celebrating King Mohammed VI’s warm relationship with the Jewish community.

Morocco’s best kept secret

Perched 50 metres about the valley and with nine rooms (five twin, two double and two family rooms) and two suites, the guesthouse can accommodate several guests while respecting the natural berber environment. The house was built in a traditional style, but one where authenticity meets modernity. Common spaces invite travelers to gather to share tales and local staff shares their culture through music, food and dance. Meanwhile natural light floods the salon through the arcades giving on to the terrace overlooking the valley. Mint tea flows freely
Watch the video here:

Lost in the Moroccan Medina - Morocco Travel Vlog 2019

Our epic travel vlog kicks off in Old Town, Marrakesh as ee explore the world famous Medina in Jemma El Fna. We then take a day trip to visit the beautiful beach town of Essaouira. Hope you enjoy the video and stay tuned for Part 2. Thanks for watching!

2019 Morocco Family Trip vlog - Marrakech to Erg Chebbi

In March 2019 we traveled to Morocco for a 9 day family trip. This was our first time experiencing Arabic and Berber culture. We enjoyed shopping in the souks, hiking the incredible landscapes, riding the camels and visiting the magical desert. Watch in HD!

Morocco Uncovered with Intrepid Travel

Morocco, a country of majestic contrasts from cities and mountains to deserts. I’ll be spending 14 days visiting Morocco’s quintessential locations. I’ve never taken on a trip of this magnitude and I’ll be doing it all through Intrepid travels. This will be an entirely new country, continent and culture for me, different from any travel I’ve ever done and I’ll be documenting my entire experience showing you Morocco

Mohamed Wajdi Ben Hammed, “Dispossession and Hybridity: The Neoliberal Moroccan City in Mohammed Achaari’s Literary Enterprise”

By Mohamed Wajdi Ben Hammed

Mohamed Wajdi Ben Hammed, “Dispossession and Hybridity: The Neoliberal Moroccan City in Mohammed Achaari’s Literary Enterprise”Arab Studies Journal (Fall, 2019).

Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this article?
Mohamed Wajdi Ben Hammed (MWBH)This article stems from one of my streams of research, namely modern Arabic literature and cinema’s engagement with neoliberal globalism. I am interested in how novels and films from North Africa increasingly locate the formative force behind a number of sociopolitical problems in the erosion of the welfare state, increasing privatization, and the economization of all aspects of life. I think these visual and narrative texts are crucial as they put into question discourses that attempt to explain major sociopolitical issues of the region through the category of culture or local political dynamics.,-%E2%80%9CDispossession-and-Hybridity-The-Neoliberal-Moroccan-City-in-Mohammed-Achaari%E2%80%99s-Literary-Enterprise%E2%80%9D-New-Texts-Out-Now

Danielle Haque, Interrogating Secularism: Race and Religion in Arab Transnational Art and Literature

By : Danielle Haque
Danielle Haque, Interrogating Secularism: Race and Religion in Arab Transnational Art and Literature (Syracuse University Press, Critical Arab American Series, 2019).
Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?
Danielle Haque (DH): I trace the origins of this book to a visit I made to Switzerland right before the Swiss voted yes on the referendum banning the construction of minarets. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party produced posters depicting a woman in a burqa against the background of the Swiss flag. Minarets in the shape of menacing missiles emerge from the Swiss flag like an infestation. The referendum and the propaganda supporting it did not surprise me, but I was surprised at the vocal media reaction in the United States that this was a violation of religious freedom. I was struck by how idealistic the US responses were about the expansiveness of religious freedom in the United States, despite the fact that it has policed religious minorities from its inception—from Native genocide, to colonial era anti-Catholic laws, to nineteenth-century massacres of Mormons. In the United States, we tout the value of religious freedom and secular governance, even in the face of blatant anti-Muslim discrimination, including the Patriot Act, NYPD (New York City Police Department) surveillance, and Guantanamo Bay. Anti-Muslim rhetoric masked by secular logics inform global politics from Quebec Bill 21, which bans public servants from wearing religious symbols, to French towns banning burkinis, to fourteen US states introducing anti-shari‘a bills in 2017 alone.,-Interrogating-Secularism-Race-and-Religion-in-Arab-Transnational-Art-and-Literature-New-Texts-Out-Now

As anti-Semitism increases, let's remember how Morocco saved its Jews

By Menachem Genack, opinion contributor The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

“There are no Jews in Morocco; there are only Moroccan citizens.” This was how King Mohammed V of Morocco responded to the Vichy government of France to the request to turn over Jewish citizens. “I do not approve of the new anti-Semitic laws, and I refuse to associate myself with a measure I disagree with,” he told the French government officials. “I reiterate as I did in the past that the Jews are under my protection, and I reject any distinction that should be made amongst my people.”  While other rulers made common cause with the Nazis due to their shared anti-Semitism, Mohammed V was a strong supporter of the Allies, and he took seriously his role as “Commander of the Faithful,” which entailed protection not only of Muslims but of his Jewish and Christian subjects as well. During the Vichy rule, no Moroccan Jews were deported or killed. ……..
More here:

To Marrakech and beyond... discovering Morocco’s best kept secret

By Richards

La Sultana offer the perfect balance with two beautiful hotels in Marrakech and the coastal village of Oualidia
As our driver weaves through the narrow cobbled streets, my senses are met with a sea of vibrant colours, and the unmistakable smell of traditional Moroccan spices…..

Morocco, Arab Leader in Electricity Generation from Renewable Energy

Morocco aims to have renewable energy constitute 42% of its energy production by the end of 2020.

By Safaa Kasraoui - Safaa Kasraoui is a journalist at Morocco World News. Feb 7, 2020 Rabat

Morocco remains a leader in the Arab world in terms of electricity from renewable energy, a study from the King Abdullah Center for Petroleum Studies and Research has found. The study reveals Morocco is the leader in generating electricity from renewable energy ahead of Egypt and Jordan. The study indicates that the renewable energy sector needs a larger workforce and more resources for growth.

Khalid Madhi, Urban Restructuring, Power and Capitalism in the Tourist City: Contested Terrains of Marrakesh

By : Khalid Madhi
Khalid Madhi, Urban Restructuring, Power and Capitalism in the Tourist City: Contested Terrains of Marrakesh (Routledge, 2019).
Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?
Khalid Madhi (KM): Growing up in a small Moroccan town with less touristic “appeal,” I often imagined Marrakesh in contradictory terms: a modern and cosmopolitan city, a place of authentic Moroccan lifestyles, tradition, and an international tourist destination. My interest in Marrakesh began in 2004 when my spouse and I visited the city, eager to immerse ourselves in the "tourist experience". Having then lived and worked in the United States for five years, I felt I had earned the “right” to travel to my country of origin and show my foreign partner its wonders. During our stay, however, we had a first-hand encounter with money and power, as well as their opposites—pauperization and marginalization. On one occasion, a five-star hotel guard denied us entry on the pretext of our "improper" casual attire. And on another, a restaurant waiter warned me, rather in solidarity, that the tourism police were rounding up les faux-guides (unauthorized tour guides), because I was in the company of a white tourist.,-Urban-Restructuring,-Power-and-Capitalism-in-the-Tourist-City-Contested-Terrains-of-Marrakesh-New-Texts-Out-Now

Morocco Advances Financial Access for Women, SME, and Youth; Latest Agriculture Ranking Released

Jean R. AbiNader January 31, 2020

Throughout Africa and the Middle East, it is a constant struggle to strengthen employment and business opportunities for underserved populations such as women and youth. Despite making up more than 50% of the country, women and youth have traditionally had a smaller share of the country’s productive economy, have lower wages, and face more obstacles in obtaining financing for start-ups and growing their businesses.
Incrementally, that is changing as governments rely more and more on the private sector to drive badly needed job creation. Governments have a key role to play in ensuring a proactive ecosystem that enables SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to survive, grow, and flourish. As this is a global challenge, the World Bank has been monitoring the performance of governments in terms of their regulatory environments regarding women’s economic participation.

According to its latest Women, Business, and the Law 2020, Morocco is first among MENA countries on eight indicators that measure how government regulations affect women throughout the various stages of a career. Using data from the national economy, the Index focuses on mobility, starting a job, pay, marriage, parenthood, entrepreneurship, managing assets, and access to pensions. Morocco made the top score of 100 points on Mobility, Workplace, and Entrepreneurship, meaning that no legal constraints exist in these areas, according to the world financial institution.

88% of Moroccans Oppose Sex Outside of Marriage

Article 490 of Morocco’s penal code prohibits sexual relations outside of marriage.

Feb 5, 2020 Rabat

A study by L’Economiste and Sunergia research group found that 88% of the Moroccans surveyed are opposed to sex outside of marriage.  Of a sample of 1,000 Moroccans, 79% of respondents personally oppose sex outside of marriage and an additional 9% describe the act as haram, or forbidden by Islamic law.  The results did not vary significantly by region, with 78% of urban respondents opposed to sex outside of marriage compared to 80% of rural respondents. ======================================

Morocco unveils multi-billion strategy to ease water stress

The programme will include the construction of dams, irrigation, improving the delivery of drinking water to rural areas, the treatment and reuse of wastewater, “awareness-raising

By Elizabeth Mbithe -  Feb 7, 2020

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has unveiled a multi-billion strategy to ease water stress in the country. Morocco, one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, has set aside up to US$12 billion for water works to be undertaken over the next eight years. The programme which was announced last month, will include the construction of dams, irrigation, improving the delivery of drinking water to rural areas, the treatment and reuse of wastewater, “awareness-raising” to reduce demand and the preservation of water resources.

As part of the draft 2020-2050 National Water Plan, the strategy foretells the possibility of Morocco spending up to US$40 billion on “dams, the connection of water basins, the desalination of seawater, the integration of all rural centers into structured drinking water supply systems”.
King Mohammed VI has inaugurated a series of projects in the hydraulic sector key among them, the US$ 96M – Moulay Abderrahmane dam which has a storage capacity of 65 million cubic meters………

Yoriyas It’s like I’m choreographing them without them knowing

Yassine Alaoui Ismaili, aka Yoriyas, has been taking photographs for around a decade, but not always for the same reasons he does now. He spent most of his teenage years instead following his passion for dance. In 2005, he became a breakdancer and founded the bboy-crew LHIBA Kingzoo, which became one of the most respected breakdance crews on the international scene. He started taking photos while he travelled for competitions, but not in a creative way. “I would take pictures to remember my way to my hotel, so I was using photography as a GPS tool!” he says.

Words by Alex Kahl.

But when his dance career was cut short by a serious knee injury in 2013, Yoriyas changed the way he saw the camera. “I used it as a type of therapy to recover from my knee injury, so I was just walking in the street and taking pictures,” he says. He felt that street photography came naturally to him, because that was where he spent so many years practising dance. Photography soon replaced breakdance as his form of expression. As he says, “my camera became a part of my body.”

A long weekend in Essaouira, Morocco’s chilled coastal alternative to Marrakesh

Get a winter-sun fix in the harbour town where hammams meet Hendrix

Jules Cooper, Sunday February 09 2020, The Sunday Times

Do you need a blast of sun? Then yalla, get yourself to Essaouira. This crenellated city on the Moroccan coast is back on the budget-airline map, and it’s warm throughout winter. Flight schedules mean you’ve no choice but to make it a three-night weekend, but that’s fine: you’ve the atmospheric fishing port and the ramshackle old citadel to discover — not to mention the surf culture, the rooftop bars and the locals’ obsession with Jimi Hendrix. Essaouira is often touted as the chilled, shaggy-haired alternative to the mania of Marrakesh, but it was once a heavily fortified trading post — away from the jurisdiction of European powers and a haven for pirates and shadowy privateers. The main spectacle here is the collision

Morocco Launches ‘Qra Tewsel’ Campaign to Encourage Reading on Tramway

As studies show high illiteracy rates in Morocco, public and private institutions are working to strengthen literacy by incorporating reading into daily life. 

By Morgan Hekking - Feb 10, 2020 Rabat

Morocco’s Ministry of Culture launched the “Qra Tewsel” campaign yesterday to encourage passengers on the Casablanca tramway to read.
Minister of Culture El Hassan Abyaba and the president of Hassan II University of Casablanca, Aawatif Hayar, are leading the initiative that offers tramway users dozens of titles to pore over during their journey.  The program aims to promote reading by making a diverse collection of titles available at 40 tramway stations throughout Casablanca

Repression or Development? Morocco after the Hirak

By Riccardo Fabiani

The wave of social unrest that shook Morocco between 2016 and 2018 marked a major turning point in the country’s political and economic landscape. Spontaneous protest movements (soon termed Hirak, in Arabic) located in the semi-peripheral towns of al-Hoceima and Jerada highlighted deteriorating socio-economic conditions for a large section of the population due to the absence of jobs, investment, and infrastructure, among other things. The authorities met these demonstrations with a mixed approach, offering dialogue and investment projects while resorting to harsh repression measures to bring back stability. Meanwhile, protests in solidarity with al-Hoceima and Jerada took place across the rest of the country, threatening to escalate these demonstrations into a nation-wide phenomenon. Eventually, and with great difficulty, the authorities succeeded in containing these protests, which have gradually been absorbed and are now over, at least temporarily.

The unprecedented nature of these demonstrations rang a loud alarm bell for Morocco’s decision-makers. Unlike the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired unrest, which the urban middle classes largely dominated, the 2016-18 demonstrations took place in rural and semi-urban settings, marking a watershed in Morocco’s recent history. As famously described by Remy Leveau, since independence the rural population has been the most important constituency for the monarchy. Rural Moroccans have defended this institution from the revolutionary threats and demands for political and economic change coming from the country’s urban middle and working classes. Nevertheless, over the past years, the decline of rural notables (which have traditionally been the key connectors between the monarchy and the population in the countryside), the emergence of a new and better-educated generation, and an increasingly vocal rural and semi-urban population have started to affect this relationship. Indeed, rural communities have become vocal, expressing a rejection of the status quo and putting forward demands for better infrastructure, investment, and jobs.

Koenraad Bogaert, Globalized Authoritarianism: Megaprojects, Slums, and Class Relations in Urban Morocco

By Koenraad Bogaert

Koenraad Bogaert, Globalized Authoritarianism: Megaprojects, Slums, and Class Relations in Urban Morocco (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018). 
Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?
Koenraad Bogaert (KB): Ten years ago, when I first arrived in Morocco, urban society was experiencing some drastic changes. Local media was talking about a kind of “urban revolution” following the launch of several megaprojects such as Tanger Med, Casablanca Marina, and the Bouregreg project in cities like Tangiers, Casablanca, and the capital, Rabat. Besides these sorts of urban spectacles, commentators in Morocco seemed captivated by another promising feature of Moroccan policy, strongly supported by King Mohammed VI: nationwide poverty alleviation programs such as “Cities Without Slums” and “the National Initiative for Human Development.” My attention was drawn to these visible and—at first sight—seemingly unrelated events and changes at the urban scale. Triggered by the contradictions I observed in the field, I started to study the city as a political project and as a lens through which I could address broader issues related to government, globalization, and neoliberalism.
The main question that drove this research was: how can I understand political change in general by looking at the city in particular? How could I make a contribution to the debates on political change in Morocco, and the region more generally, by using the city as an entry point? A lot had been written at that time on the power of the monarchy, on the rise of the Islamists, on the electoral game and, more recently, on the impact and significance of the Arab uprisings and the 20 February Movement, but something was still missing. In my view, many of these analyses paid little attention to the global situation. At best, globalization was considered as something external, something that had an impact on local politics from the “outside,” but rarely as something integral to the process of political change itself. As I write in the book, it is strange that we have our mouths full of the increasing interconnectedness, the mobility and the unlimited potential of contemporary globalization, a process that transforms our world into a “global village,” while on the other hand, when it comes to studying issues such as poverty, inequality, exploitation, oppression and authoritarianism, we hear much less of this globalizing jargon. There is obvious tension here. Economics are obviously global; politics, by contrast, much less. The city was, for me, a way of questioning and investigating this tension. One of my main concerns was to tell a story not about the “impact” of globalization, but about how globalization is produced in places, in cities like Rabat and Casablanca.,-Globalized-Authoritarianism-Megaprojects,-Slums,-and-Class-Relations-in-Urban-Morocco-New-Texts-Out-Now

Matt Buehler, Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa

Matt Buehler Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa (Syracuse University Press, 2018).

Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?
Matt Buehler (MB): My motivation for writing Why Alliances Fail came from a personal experience, rather than a strictly academic one. Witnessing this experience while working overseas in the Arab world motivated my book’s central puzzle. In 2009, I worked as an English-Arabic translator intern at Morocco’s second widest circulating newspaper, as-Sabah. That was also around the same time that country’s communal (i.e. local) elections took place, which produced several unexpected and perplexing alliances between leftist and Islamist political parties in numerous localities, notably in Agadir, Tétouan, and several other cities. What was especially puzzling was that these local-level alliances between leftists and Islamists became long-term, successful pacts, whereas similar attempts at opposition coordination at the national-level between the same parties failed. Then, over time, I thought to myself: What are the different factors that might be driving variation in the durability of alliances between Morocco’s leftists and Islamists? How, moreover, might this either parallel or contradict the pattern of successful and failed alliances we see between leftists and Islamists in neighboring states in North Africa?

Thereafter, I documented and researched similar alliances that had emerged between leftists and Islamists in other areas of North Africa, specifically in Tunisia and Mauritania, in the 2000s and 2010s. This approach ultimately produced the book’s comparative framework, which relies on comparing nine different cases of alliances in three countries (Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania) and in three distinct domains of politics, including national-level, city, and labor politics. This whole process of building and maintaining alliances became much more complex once the Arab uprisings began, which erupted while I was conducting fieldwork in North Africa for my book. So, in sum, Why Alliances Fail emerged from personally observing and trying to explain a specific counter-intuitive historical event, which expanded and complexified over time.,-Why-Alliances-Fail-Islamist-and-Leftist-Coalitions-in-North-Africa-New-Texts-Out-Now

Moroccan Political Activism and the Virtues of Taking the Long View

By Patrick Snyder

Conventional representations of contentious politics in the Middle East and North Africa tend to oscillate between extremes. Caught in a sort of Catch-22, political activism in the region is, in the words of the Iranian scholar Asef Bayat, “damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t—either it is ‘irrational’ and ‘aggressive,’ or it is ‘apathetic’ and ‘dead’”[1]. This tendency toward the dichotomization of political activism is apparent when assessing the political science scholarship on the “Arab Spring,” and in particular, explanations for why most authoritarian regimes in the region managed to survive. Scores of articles and books have been written on the subject in the past seven years, but the most common explanations attribute authoritarian continuity to a set of key factors: fragmented or otherwise loyal armed forces, increased patronage and rentierism, a dose of repression, and in the case of Morocco, Jordan, and the Gulf kingdoms, the special “legitimacy” of monarchism. According to these analyses, the “Arab Spring” is over, its outcomes known, and political activism in the region restored to its assumed pre-Arab Spring levels of quiescence.

NEWTON Bouquet, "Morocco Matters" (January 2019)

By : NEWTON Editors

he editors kick off 2019 with a NEWTON Bouquet focusing on Morocco. Morocco has a rich history of popular mobilization, political protest, and has been embroiled in conflict over the Western Sahara. For those reasons and many others, the following NEWTON selections remind us that Morocco, too, has a rich and complex social, economic, and political history that deserves to be explored and studied by students, scholars, and the enthusiasts alike.,-Morocco-Matters-January-2019

The Life Span of Alternative Media: Cases of Lakome and Mamfakinch in Morocco

By : Fadma Aït Mous and Driss Ksikes

Born out of a combination of cyber-activism and the globalization of protest, alternative media  are precarious in the kind of semi-autocratic, semi-liberal, or hybrid political configuration that is seen in Morocco. Still, some journalists and activists chose Morocco as the setting in which to launch a new generation of online media during the turmoil leading up to the mobilizations of 2011. There, they found a mix of anti-system information and marginal opinions. These journalists and activists consider these new spaces to be alternatives—even havens—for freedom of expression, and distinct from traditional media that was discredited, highly controlled, and had fallen victim to self-censorship. However, when we look at the life span of these digital activist media, we realize that they did not manage to overcome economic pressures and political repression. This paper[1] focuses on the life cycles of two alternative media (Lakome and Mamfakinch) and how they interacted with the political and economic powers. Both media were born as side phenomena related to the so-called “Arab Spring,” which was hurriedly labeled a “social media revolution.”

Concepts and Context
Well before digital media were developed by professionals, the practice of sharing news online existed as civic action. The first symbolic act of what has since been coined as “alternative media” took place in 1999 in Seattle, as a reaction to the World Trade Organization’s annual conference. Thanks to activists and parallel networks, alter-globalization non-governmental organizations (NGOs) initiated one of the first public websites dedicated to producing pieces of information rarely (if ever) shared by mainstream media outlets. Known thereafter as the Independent Media Center, or Indymedia, the website has been defined by its founders as “a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth.”

MENA Dialogues with Abdelhay Moudden & Driss Ksikes: Is Morocco “Exceptional”? (video)

By : Status Audio Journal Hosts

n this interview for STATUS/الوضع , host Brian Edwards speaks with Abdelhay Moudden and Driss Ksikes about the unique political, economic and social dynamics of Morocco. This dicussion occurs as part of the MENA Dialogues series produced by the Middle East and North African Studies Program at Northwestern University. Brian Edwards is Director of the Middle East and North African Studies Program, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies, and Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of After the American Century: The Ends of U.S. Culture in the Middle East (2016) and Morocco Bound: Disorienting America's Maghreb, from Casablanca to the Marrakech Express (2005), and co-editor, with Dilip Gaonkar, of Globalizing American Studies (2010).

Abdelhay Moudden (B.A. in Law from the Rabat Faculty of Law, Master's and PhD in Political Sciences from the University of West Florida and the University of Michigan) has taught in Morocco and the U.S. Moudden is a member of Morocco’s National Human Rights Council and the country's Equity and Reconciliation Commission and has published a several articles and studies on political culture, thought and economy. He is also the writer of two novels including, “Adieux à Tanger”.
Check the video here:

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