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Morocco Week in Review 
February 29, 2020

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Moroccan-Belgian Author Rachida Lamrabet Wins Flemish Literature Award

Lamrabet won the award for her innovative novel “Tell Someone”

By Morocco World News - Feb 21, 2020 Ouarzazate

Moroccan-Belgian Rachida Lamrabet won the Ultima Award For Literature on Tuesday, February 18. The Ultima For Literature is a cultural award from the Flemish community and comes with a cash prize of €1000. Lamrabet is a Belgian author of Moroccan origin, she works as a lawyer for the Center for Equality of Opportunity and Opposition to Racism in Brussels. The Ultimas jury admired the work of Lamrabet, describing her as “a talented writer who tells stories that are not told by anyone else,” reported Flanders Literature…………

Sex and Lies review: testimonies from women in Morocco

Leila Slimani bravely portrays accounts of extra-marital sex punishable by law

Sun, Feb 23, 2020

What did it take for a book like Sex and Lies to get to me? First, its author had to be born. (That’s obvious, but let’s start there.) Leïla Slimani was born in Morocco. She grew up in Rabat and was raised Muslim. At 17, she moved to Paris to study political science, then worked as a journalist with Jeune Afrique. Sex and Lies is not a memoir, but Slimani’s autobiographical details are noteworthy; who she is, recording this story. Next, she had to become a writer. This is relevant in terms of craft, but also because it was on a tour for her book, Adèle, that Sex and Lies began to take form. Women came to her. They told her their stories. “Novels have a magical way of forging a very intimate connection between writers and their readers, of toppling the barriers of shame and mistrust,” she notes…..

Let’s Get Real About Morocco’s Stray Dog Problem

23 February 2020

A pack of stray dogs violently attacked a 12-year-old boy in Goulmima, southeastern Morocco, on February 12. The child, having sustained injuries to the head, lower leg, and thigh, has reportedly been taken to the Netherlands for medical treatment. Similar incidents occur every day throughout the country. Children are afraid to walk to and from school, adults are afraid to go out after dark, and citizens and tourists alike are still dying of rabies. It is not productive to blame the victims of these attacks and speculate that their behavior caused the dogs to lash out, and it is not productive to argue that stray dogs present no burden to Moroccan society. The fact is that an unchecked stray dog population absolutely poses a threat to humans and overall public health.

Morocco to Launch an International Argan Day

The Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations has presented a request to the UN to proclaim an International day for Argan.

By Taha Mebtoul - Feb 22, 2020 Rabat

Permanent ambassador of Morocco to the UN Omar Hilale headed a meeting on Wednesday, February 19, on the theme “Argania, centuries-old source of sustainable development.” Hilale organized the meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, gathering a group of representatives of international organizations from New York. The delegation included Carla Mucavi, director of the FAO, Marie Paul Roudil, director of the UNESCO, Werner O’Bermeyer, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Hamid Rashid, head of the research and development department at the UN department for economic and social affairs. The Moroccan mission seized on the international gathering to request the formal founding of an International Argan day.

Argan tree, an asset for sustainable development. To reinforce his request, Hilale called attention to the Argan tree’s significant value for sustainable development in Morocco, as well as its cultural heritage. Although it is starting to grow recently in other parts of the world, the valley of Souss, south-west of Morocco, is the original habitat of the Argan tree. The Argan forest covers more than 71% of the Souss valley, maintaining Morocco’s position as the main international exporter of Argan-based products.

Intern with Down Syndrome Receives Warm Welcome at Casablanca Cafe

By Josef Abdessalam Zerbaoui - Feb 23, 2020 Rabat

A picture showing two people with down syndrome working at a well-known cafe in Casablanca has gone viral on social media. A Facebook post applauding the Paul Cil café, located in the Hay Essalam district of Casablanca, for welcoming the interns, received positive comments from hundreds of internet users. One social media user commented: “Bravo for this initiative.… we would like it to become a general rule,” while another added, “this is just magnificent.” Rim Akrache, who launched the initiative, told Morocco World News that she and a fellow colleague from the Mohammed VI National Center for the Disabled (CNMH) approached the managers of the cafe with an informal request about taking on the interns.

How to Cook Like a Moroccan Mum: Lamb and Vegetable Couscous

The Moroccan couscous that appears on almost every dinner table in the country every Friday is a far cry from the “just add water” grains I used to buy in British supermarkets.

By Madeleine Handaji - Feb 16, 2020 Essaouira

“This is not couscous,” a Moroccan friend told me while we perused pre-packed lunches in the chilled food section of the Marks and Spencer near Victoria station in London. Looking at the plastic pot of cold couscous adorned with cooked peppers and raisins, I had no idea what she meant. 
Four years later, when I see “Moroccan couscous” advertised in British supermarkets, I feel strangely frustrated and want to tell other shoppers that they are being duped.  Moroccan couscous does not come in plastic packaging with soggy grilled peppers and three dry raisins: Moroccan couscous is beautifully steamed vegetables, fluffy grains, and tender meat. 

True Moroccan couscous is a family united around a table. During the summer, my husband’s nieces and nephew spend their school holidays with their grandparents; my father-in-law’s brother and his family come to spend the month in our town; and my husband’s maternal grandmother and aunts travel south to visit their blad (countryside where their family come from).  The family home is full of noise, full of movement, laughter, and practical jokes. And, on Fridays, it is full of couscous.  My husband’s great-aunt rolls balls of couscous with one hand, no cutlery needed; his grandmother takes out her false teeth to tuck into the soft, steamed vegetables and caramelized onions; and the children mix couscous grains with lben (lassi or buttermilk).

How to Cook Like a Moroccan Mum: Kefta ‘Express’ Tagine

Eat, eat: “Ish, ish,” in Tamazight (Berber language) or “Kul, kul” in Darija (Moroccan dialect) are some of the first words you will hear when you enter any Moroccan home.

By Madeleine Handaji - Feb 8, 2020

Every Moroccan person I have ever met has used the phrase “you haven’t tasted X, until you’ve tasted my Mum’s,” or “My Mum makes the best….”
As a British woman married to a Moroccan, I am determined that our 10-month-old son will not be the exception to the rule. Having always loved to cook, I was thrilled when I first met my husband’s family: as anyone who has ever visited a Moroccan home will already know, food is very much at the heart of Morocco’s famous hospitality. From the day I arrived at their Essaouira home, the table in the salon was never empty. Tagines, couscous, msemen, mint tea, more tagines, tangia…, I could go on.

My mother-in-law’s kitchen was a door to a delicious realm of cupboards full of unknown spices, herbs, preserved olives, and lemons, grains of every shape and size, and a wealth of culinary secrets. Within a week of staying with my new in-laws, I had already learned the secrets of couscous over a long morning of steaming and separating the grains, under the watchful eyes of my mother-in-law, her two sisters, and my grandmother-in-law.
Now, after three years of kitchen apprenticeship at the elbows of my Moroccan family, I am the one urging guests to tuck into steaming dishes of mouth-watering Moroccan food.

Can Morocco Use Social Media to Address Mental Health?

Twitter statuses can be coded for, and used as, accurate predictors of depression or indicators of PTSD. 

By Soukaina Amira has completed a Bachelor's in culture and communication at New York University, a Master's in resources and organisations at the LSE, and has recently obtained a Master's in psychoanalytic developmental psychology at UCL. Feb 22, 2020 Rabat

The notion of mental health in Morocco is one that is continuously evolving. It is a concept that is deeply entrenched both in the Moroccan cultural paradigm, as well as its rich folklore.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report in 2017 stating that there are only 0.84 psychiatrists in Morocco per 100,000 members of the population with only 11 mental hospitals. The report also highlighted that Morocco had no strategy in place to address child and adolescent mental health, neglecting a severely vulnerable demographic.  Another report published in 2006 by WHO noted that there were only 306 psychiatrists catering to a population of over 33 million, a number that has probably not increased significantly with time.  In addition, a study conducted by Moroccan researchers in 2009 showed that close to half of Moroccans deal with a mental health disorder, and 26% suffer from major depressive disorder. These numbers are extremely alarming, especially considering the fact that WHO found that only 4 mental health hospital beds are available per 100,000 of the population.  Another impediment to Morocco’s mental health interventions lies in the country’s culture: in order to address one’s mental health, one must be able to recognize that what one suffers from could be qualified as a mental health issue.

Ottawa University Spotlights Moroccan Heritage, Identity

The Association of Moroccan Students of the University of Ottawa organized the event to preserve their Moroccan identity.

By  Hamza Guessous  - Feb 24, 2020 Rabat

The University of Ottawa has organized a special event to celebrate Morocco’s heritage and cultural diversity as part of the university’s International Development Week (IDW). The Association of Moroccan Students of the University of Ottawa, made up of  300 students, dressed in traditional Moroccan clothes; djellabas, caftans, and jabadors at the event.  The celebration highlighted the ancestral heritage of the different regions of Morocco, with performances of folk songs and other art shows. The event also showcased Moroccan gastronomy, handicrafts, and books that characterized the event. In addition to promoting Morocco’s cultural wealth and diversity, the event was an opportunity for students to share and celebrate their cultural backgrounds their origins.  In recent years, the Moroccan student association at the University of Ottawa has won the first prize for the most beautiful stand and the most festive celebration during the cultural week….

National Multicultural Festival of Canberra Celebrates Moroccan Traditions

The Embassy of Morocco in Canberra used mint tea, cuisine, and art to illuminate Moroccan culture.

By  Morgan Hekking  - Feb 24, 2020 Rabat

Morocco was one of many countries represented at the 24th National Multicultural Festival of Canberra, Australia’s capital city, from February 22 to 23. More than 200,000 festival-goers enjoyed music, dance performances, parades, and delicious food from around the world at the largest cultural event in Australia.  The Embassy of Morocco in Canberra secured the country’s participation and used mint tea, Moroccan food, and art to illuminate Moroccan culture.

Morocco’s 15th Jazzablanca Music Festival Calls for Local Talent

Selected artists will have the opportunity to deliver a professional performance on one of the festival’s stages in the Casa-Anfa Hippodrome and the United Nations Square.

By  Morgan Hekking  - Feb 24, 2020 Rabat

The organizers of Morocco’s 15th Jazzablanca are calling for Moroccan artists or artists residing in Morocco to audition for the upcoming annual music festival, set to take place in Casablanca from June 11 to 14.  The Jazzablanca organizers have launched official calls for Moroccan performers since 2015. Registration is free and open to established music groups of relevant genres. Applicants must show their ability to perform at least three original compositions. The deadline to apply is midnight on Sunday, March 22.  Selected artists will have the opportunity to deliver a professional performance on one of the festival’s stages in the Casa-Anfa Hippodrome (racetrack) and the United Nations Square.

The Samsung Village Stage is an open-air space in the heart of the Casa-Anfa Hippodrome. The stage offers a diverse musical program and is dedicated to local creation.  The soul of the “Casaoui” festival, features of the Village include a food court; exhibits in art, design, and fashion; and workshops for children.  The Anfa Stage of the Casa-Anfa Hippodrome welcomes the festival’s headliners.  The Jazz Club is a VIP area open after the Anfa Stage concerts dedicated to corporate audience members and festival partners. The club boasts an open bar, more live music, and DJ sets. 
Although Jazzablanca originally began as a jazz festival, the event has grown to incorporate soul, funk, groove, rock, and electronic music. 
LeRoof is a new open-air space in the Casa-Anfa Hippodrome dedicated to electronic music mixed by DJs from around the world. The BMCI Stage at the United Nations Square is Jazzablanca’s largest and most popular venue. The stage merges national and international musicians and can accommodate up to 15,000 spectators per concert. With 79,000 attendees of nearly 60 concerts in 2019, Jazzablanca offers an attractive and exciting atmosphere that tells the story of a meeting between music, jazz, and Casablanca.

Protests in Morocco demanding improvement of social and human rights conditions

February 24, 2020

Thousands of activists protested on Sunday in Casablanca, Morocco, demanding the improvement of social and human rights conditions.
Participants in the protest march, called by the Moroccan Social Front (including more than 30 organisations and bodies), raised slogans calling for respect of human rights in the country. The protesters in the march, which started from Al-Nasr Square to the end of the neighbourhood of Darb Omar, chanted slogans calling for “improving the citizens’ situation and rejecting the restrictions imposed on human rights and social media activists.”“This march comes to demand social justice, rights and freedoms,” said Younes Ferrachin, coordinator of the Moroccan Social Front.

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