Ramadan originally meant “great heat,” from the pre-Islamic solar calendar. This month was sacred in the pre-Islamic Arabic tradition and was a month of truce.
By Dr Mohamed Chtatou is a professor at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat. Apr 27, 2020 Rabat
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year and the only one mentioned by name in the Qur’an. It is intrinsically linked to the fourth of the five pillars of Islam, obligatory fasting or sawm. Before the Prophet Muhammed and his companions were forced to flee Mecca and settle in Medina, Muslims practiced only non-compulsory fasts. It was not until the year 2 AH (623 A.D.) that a series of verses in sura 2 (verses 183 to 187) required Muslims to fast throughout the month of Ramadan and laid down the basic rules of this rite.What Ramadan means
Ramadan originally meant “great heat,” an image taken from the pre-Islamic solar calendar. This month was sacred in the pre-Islamic Arabic tradition and was a month of truce. While the month of Ramadan is the month of abstinence, this month is also a good opportunity to question the “basis and the foundations” of Islamic spiritual practice. Above all, it is a time of solidarity and sharing. Islam is not a dogmatic religion. Ramadan is above all a “vision of the heart” that allows man to return to the center of himself.
The fasting of Ramadan leads man to make a constant effort to fight his weaknesses and passions, to constantly improve, to become totally humanized.
Moroccan men are infiltrating the group to connect with women, Americans try fasting for the first time, and a fundraiser circulates to support refugees in Morocco.
By Kristen Gianaris - Apr 29, 2020 Rabat
A group of US citizens stuck in Morocco after COVID-19 lockdown restrictions prevented them from traveling organized a WhatsApp support group. Originally intended as a space to share information about repatriation flights and resources related to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the group’s content has expanded.
Young Moroccan men have since infiltrated the group and are sending messages both to the group at large and privately to women in the group, members of the group are fasting for the first time as Ramadan begins, and fundraisers are circulating in support of refugees in Morocco………………..
Making Things Right: In Morocco, Ex-Con Gives Back to His Community (video)
Voice of America
A reformed ex-convict in Morocco looks to make the best of his new life of freedom. Streets he once stalked as a criminal are today the focus of his local beautification efforts. And, as VOA’s Arash Arabasadi reports, he may even offer a path for other ex- …
By Harrison Daley - Apr 26, 2020
A Moroccan youth project called “Kamlin Neqraw,” launched on April 12, has been giving tablets and computers to children in northern Morocco with fewer opportunities, allowing them to continue their education online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized by Volunteer in Morocco and the Dutch foundation CULTINED, Kamlin Neqraw has launched a crowdfunding campaign asking people to donate their electronics.
These electronics will be distributed to children in need to ensure their access to remote learning.
By Abdellah Boussouf - Apr 28, 2020 Rabat
What frustrated me the most was his offensive approach against Moroccan migrant women, his insults, and the use of hateful speech. He expressed his views using abject language with an abominable ignorance, trying to invoke numbers he could neither understand nor interpret. The immigration of Moroccan women, which accounts for 50% of Moroccan immigration to some European countries, has profound civilizational implications that those who objectify women cannot understand.
Moroccan women’s migration has passed through several stages. It started in the framework of the family gathering, where she would accompany her husband. The practice eventually evolved to accommodate other travel purposes, such as to pursue studies, work, or explore the world beyond Morocco’s borders.
The World Food Programme predicts that more than a quarter of a billion people will be living with acute hunger by the end of 2020.
By Madeleine Handaji - Apr 22, 2020
A recent statement from the World Food Programme (WFP) predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will put the lives and livelihoods of as many as 265 million people at risk. The new figures would almost double current world hunger statistics.
The statement, published on April 16, warns that 130 million more people in middle income countries will be under severe threat because of the economic fallout of the pandemic, unless swift action is taken.
The figures released in the WFP report come in stark contrast to the numbers published in the Global Report on Food Crises 2020, where research ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic suggested that 135 million lives would be at risk from world crises. The report spotlights the populations of sub-Saharan African countries and states in the Middle East and North Africa as the most at risk.
The initiative came in response to the suspension of classes in Moroccan schools.
By Yahia Hatim - Apr 25, 2020 Rabat
A group of Moroccan IT and digital professionals based in France have launched an interactive and free e-learning platform, Laclasse.ma, to facilitate remote teaching for Moroccan tutors.
Launched on April 13, the platform is part of Morocco’s solidarity effort in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to enable the continuity of lessons for students and teachers.
Laclasse.ma has a simple and easy-to-use interface to allow people who are not used to technology to use it as well.
By Taha Mebtoul - Apr 27, 2020 Rabat
Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance Mohamed Benchaaboun declared that the total resources of the Special Fund for the Management and Response to COVID-19 reached MAD 32 billion ($3.2 billion) on April 24.
Meanwhile, expenses from the fund amounted to MAD 6.2 billion ($620 million). A sum of MAD 2 billion ($200 million) was allocated to the health sector in order to purchase necessary medical equipment.
The minister spoke about the special fund allocations during a House of Representatives session about the country’s financial and economic measures to face the COVID-19 crisis………..
In the Kem Kem area 100 million years ago, “a human time-traveller would not last very long.”
By Antonia Knox - Apr 27, 2020
Paleontologists uncovered fossils of various carnivorous dinosaurs in southeast Morocco’s Kem Kem beds, meaning that the region, which borders Algeria, was once home to some of the most dangerous dinosaur species in the world. “This was arguably the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth, a place where a human time-traveller would not last very long,” said the monograph’s lead author, Dr. Nizar Ibrahim of the University of Detroit Mercy. The ZooKeys journal published the paleontology and geology monograph on April 21, co-authored by scholars from the United States, Europe, and Morocco. The researchers stressed that “no comparable modern terrestrial ecosystem exists with similar bias toward large-bodied carnivores.”………………………….
Homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison in Morocco. The outings are reported to have led to suicide, death threats and forced evictions.
April 30, 2020, By Liam Woods
Closeted gay and bisexual men are being publicly outed in the North African kingdom of Morocco, where homosexuality is illegal, as a social media campaign spearheaded by a controversial transgender beauty influencer is taking hold. Earlier this month, Naoufal Moussa, also known as Sofia Taloni, encouraged her hundreds of thousands of mainly female Instagram followers to set up fake profiles on the gay dating apps Grindr and Planet Romeo to "catfish" the men closest to them — their brothers, sons, husbands and neighbors. Moussa urged them to do so after she herself had received transphobic messages, and she was reported to have said in a subsequent video that she had hoped that exposing closeted men would make Moroccans realize how common homosexuality is in the Islamic country. This is the instagram influencer @ naoufalmoussa exposing the gay dating apps and telling girls how to catfish gay men pic.twitter.com/sjdloL8pRX — queer (@outedInGrindr) April 16, 2020
The identities of the unsuspecting men were reported to have been uploaded online and shared via the messaging platform WhatsApp, casting a dark cloud over Morocco's LGBTQ community. The timing of the campaign, which started in mid-April, has been particularly worrisome, as many young Moroccans living freely in Europe have returned to quarantine with their religious families during the coronavirus pandemic. Already, there have been reports from news outlets and the international rights group Human Rights Watch of suicide, death threats and forced evictions in the country, where being gay is punishable by up to three years in prison. NBC News has not confirmed the reports………….
April 29, 2020
The European Union yesterday granted Morocco 1.5 billion dirhams ($150.8 million) in aid to support the country’s endeavour to activate distance education in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The financing agreement was signed by EU Ambassador to Morocco Claudia Wiedey, Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance, Mohamed Bin Shaaboun, Minister of Education, Said Amzazi, and Director-General of the National Agency for the fight against illiteracy, Abdessamih Mahmoud.
According to a statement issued by the EU diplomatic delegation in Morocco, the aim of the project is to build a “close relationship” between the school and the parents by involving them in their children’s education.
READ: Campaign to counterattack UAE-sponsored electronic files, failure to contain spread of COVID-19
On 27 March, the European Union pledged €450 million ($488 million) in aid to Morocco, to be pumped into the special fund for management of the coronavirus pandemic created by King Mohammed VI.
On 16 March, the Moroccan government closed schools and universities and resorted to distance learning via social media platforms and various state-sponsored TV channels.
To date, the North African state has 4,252 cases of the potentially fatal diseases including 165 people who have died as a result………..
The two programs are co-produced by BBC and the British Council and will be distributed starting Monday, April 27.
By Taha Mebtoul - Apr 25, 2020 Rabat
The Moroccan Ministry of Education announced yesterday an agreement with the British Council in Morocco to enhance the teaching of the English language and its culture.
The agreement is set to promote the ministry’s plan for remote education amid the state of emergency in Morocco, via English teaching programs on radio and television, including the “World on the Street” television show and the “Obla air” radio program.
The BBC and the British Council co-produced the two programs, which will start airing Monday, April 27.
Viewers can watch“World on the street” on Arryadia channel. The series includes 10 episodes of 30 minutes each and will air two episodes a week. “Obla air” will air on the Atlantic radio website, in the form of seven 20-minute episodes.
The two parties announced the collaboration, which falls within the September 2019 Memorandum of Understanding on High Education in Rabat between Morocco and the United Kingdom, in a joint press release.
The collaboration also follows the recommendations of the Moroccan-British Higher Education Commission that took place in London on January 22.
The spread of the coronavirus is causing us to adapt our activities. While social distancing and hygiene measures are critical, self-care should also be a lockdown priority.
By Antonia Knox - Apr 26, 2020 Rabat
The spread of COVID-19 has affected day-to-day life for people across the world. Billions are now on lockdown in their homes and face an array of new challenges. We all know that physical wellbeing is extremely important, especially for essential workers, but maintaining good mental health is just as vital. Here are some tips and resources to boost your mental health while sheltering in place.
Social connection from a distance
Staying home means we can no longer physically gather with family and friends. However, there are many online tools that are bringing people together: HouseParty is a great way to connect with loved ones. The app that allows up to eight people to video chat on a split screen. There are even trivia and game options you can play with your group!
MarcoPolo is like having a walkie talkie but better. The app allows you to send short video messages to an individual or group which they can receive live or check later when online. MarcoPolo is free and perfect for brief check-ins with loved ones, especially if you have a busy schedule to keep.
Words With Friends is a gaming app that allows you to play trivia word games with your friends. The game is similar to Scrabble and allows you to build on one another’s words.
Pandemic challenges are reaching Morocco’s most isolated and vulnerable.
By Kristen Gianaris - Apr 25, 2020
“Stay home” is the catchphrase of this time as people and governments have encouraged one another to flatten the curve and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 as it sweeps across the globe. For some, home has a different meaning, but COVID-19 has an impact nonetheless.
In an interview with Morocco World News, Hmou, a nomad living in the Tinghir province of the Draa-Tafilalet region, says that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on him and his family, as well other nomads. “The weekly souks are all closed. Without the souk, we struggle to sell our animals and buy the basic things we need to survive,” he explained. “I know that the virus exists now and that it is deadly. I have a radio that I listen to the news on. This is how I knew that the souks were closed and how I found out that the state of emergency is extended until May 20,” he said.
When he passes through villages, Hmou wears a mask and avoids shaking people’s hands. “As a nomad, I cannot stay at home, but for the people who live in the villages and cities, they should do what the authorities say.”
The COVID-19 pandemic will not stop you having the perfect Ramadan iftar.
By Madeleine Handaji - Apr 26, 2020
Ramadan 2020 will be difficult and different for families all over the world. My family, like thousands of others, is preparing to celebrate the month of Ramadan in separate countries. Despite not being able to sample my mother-in-law’s mouth-watering harira, I am determined that my son will still be able to taste the delicious and healthy Ramadan soup, so I have had to learn to cook harira like a Moroccan mum!
Ramadan is a special time for families all over the world. It is a time for togetherness, stillness, and taking advantage of time spent together. This year, my one-year-old son and I are in the UK with his British grandparents while my husband waits out the lockdown at our home in Morocco. It will be very different, but, I hope, no less special. During this time of separation, we have had to find ways around the distance and I cannot say that has not been difficult. Watching my son take his first steps and not being able to share it with his father was definitely bittersweet, but in 2020 physical separation does not have to mean social or emotional distance.
“I hope these new product updates will help bring people closer together” said Zuckerberg.
By Taha Mebtoul - Apr 25, 2020 Rabat
Facebook has launched a new video calling feature, “Messenger Rooms,” which allows up to 50 people to join a group video chat. The new facility will be available on Messenger, Whatsapp, and the Facebook app. Messenger Rooms is likely to help promote the campaign for people to stay home amid the coronavirus lockdown. Facebook told the BBC it released the feature earlier than it had planned due to the lockdown. The feature was already available for some users in the UK starting April 24 but will take several weeks to reach all Facebook users around the world, the company told the BBC.
Introducing Messenger Rooms, group video calls that you can start and share via @messenger @facebookapp and soon @instagram @whatsapp and @portalfacebook. We're testing Rooms in a few countries now and plan to roll it out globally in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/kQWb2nbPzY
— Facebook (@Facebook) April 24, 2020 Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg introduced the new feature in a Facebook post yesterday.
“I wanted to share a summary of the new product updates I just discussed on the livestream to help us all feel connected with the people we care about,” said Zuckerberg. In addition to Messenger Rooms, Facebook is also planning to make changes on Whatsapp, allowing up to eight people in a group video call rather than just four. Zuckerberg said that calling has doubled in many countries since the COVID-19 outbreak began. He also announced the launching of virtual dates on Facebook Dating and the expansion of Messenger Kids to more than 70 countries and territories.
Islam asks Muslims not only to fast during Ramadan, but also to aid those in need. Ramadan generosity will be especially important during the coronavirus pandemic.
By Rachid Elouahsoussi - Apr 23, 2020 Rabat
Ramadan is the annual holy month during which Muslims around the world not only fast from sunrise to sunset, but also show solidarity and do generous deeds for others. The religious celebration is an opportunity for Muslims to attain spiritual purification through fasting and charity work. Muslims abstain from not only food, drink, and sex, but also from lying, cheating, gossiping, swearing, and other bad behaviors. Muslims also engage in prayers to varying extents, according to each individual’s capability.
Islam encourages adherents to maintain positive Ramadan habits throughout the year.
Ramadan traditions are great, but staying alive comes first.
By Asmae Habchaoui - Asmae Habchaoui is a PR & Media professional with a Masters in Management & Finance. Apr 25, 2020
When Morocco implemented a COVID-19 lockdown on March 20, some were sure, and others hoped, that life would return to normal by Ramadan. Last week, when the government extended the lockdown until May 20, my sister turned to me and said, “Huh, we won’t be going out with the girls after breaking fast this year!” That is when it dawned on me that lockdown will break a tradition I have upheld, like so many Moroccans, since I was 15 years old. As it turns out, girls’ nights out is only one in a list of traditions that the lockdown will interrupt this Ramadan.
Throughout the entire year, nightlife options in Morocco are limited to pubs, nightclubs, and the very few restaurants that stay open until 11 p.m. Morocco’s restaurant scene is an entirely different experience during Ramadan.
For one, virtually all restaurants and cafes stay open until dawn. With cafes closed during the day because of the fast, nighttime, after the ‘Ishaa’ prayer, becomes the service industry’s workday. The hospitality itself does not particularly change, but the atmosphere is marked by a unique bliss.
“I emphasize the necessity of the tourism sector to overcome this crisis with the least possible damage," said Adel El Fakir, the general director of the Moroccan National Tourism Office.
By Jihad Dardar - Apr 27, 2020 Rabat
The Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT) announced on April 26 the launch of the “3lamantlakaw” campaign, meaning “Until We Meet,” to support and encourage the tourism sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the economic crisis, the novel coronavirus has caused worldwide, the tourism sector in Morocco is experiencing its severe effects. The president of the National Tourism Confederation (CNT), Abdellatif Kabbaj, said the tourism sector could lose as much as MAD 34 billion ($3.4 billion) by the end of 2020. The hotel sector alone could record losses of MAD 15 billion ($1.5 billion).
Several NGOs have been raising awareness to condemn the increase of domestic violence during lockdown.
By Safaa Kasraoui - Apr 29, 2020 Rabat
The Federation of Women’s Rights Leagues (FLDF) has said it received 240 phone calls from 230 women who reported incidents of domestic violence during Morocco’s COVID-19 confinement.
FLDF said it received the calls from March 16 to April 24, and a statement from the federation said that a total of 541 acts of violence against the 230 women have been recorded.
Psychological violence had the highest rate, representing 48.2% of the count, followed by economic violence at 33% and physical violence, which exceeded 12%.
The holy month is a time to empathize with those in need, providing a perfect opportunity to develop habits that prevent wasteful consumption.
By Zuza Nazaruk is a Rotterdam-based journalist who focuses on social inclusion and climate emergency. Apr 30, 2020
Globally, one-third of all produced food–which equals 1.3 billion tons annually–goes to waste. The estimation includes both “lost” and “wasted” food, the former term referring to food destroyed during harvest, transportation, or production, and the latter describing food that is fit for consumption but ends up in a trash bin. Sixty-one percent of food waste is attributed to retail and individual consumption. Individual habits, namely buying more than one can eat or throwing away half-finished products, play an important part in the global picture of food waste. Another crucial culprit is the consumer’s aesthetic expectation: Supermarkets need to always have perfectly looking products in stock, which results in the destruction of edible produce because it does not fulfill the supermarkets’ beauty standards.
In Morocco, a staggering 45.1% of food purchased by households goes to waste. Cheap and perishable products, such as fruits, vegetables, and bakery products, are thrown away the most often. The cost of the wasted food is not considerable–although agricultural subsidies do make an impact here–the moral implications of such waste are. Food donations are still highly needed in Morocco, which was never clearer than during the 2017 food distribution stampede in the southern coastal city of Essaouira.
In a post-COVID-19 context, Omar Kettani projected a large rural exodus and an increase in urban unemployment.
By Hamza Guessous - Apr 30, 2020 Rabat
Following Morocco’s strong efforts to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on its most vulnerable people, the professor deemed a second fundraising campaign necessary for the recovery of the Moroccan economy. This is the post-COVID-19 plan of Omar Kettani, a professor of economics at the Mohammed V University in Rabat, for a fast recovery of the Moroccan economy. “We have quickly mobilized funds which have reached the equivalent of $9 billion, or almost 8% of the GDP. It is, therefore, feasible to relaunch the same mobilization in a second phase after the coronavirus,” said Kettani in an interview with Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
The professor pointed out that the experience has shown there are at least three sources of funding, namely the state, civil society, and loans.
“These sources, which can be quickly mobilized, have born fruit since they have enabled Morocco to cope with the economic and social consequences of the lockdown,” said Kettani. Meanwhile, he stressed the recovery policy must include a focus on rural areas. This means investing in high value-added sectors such as industrial production and in services absent in the countryside, according to the professor.
The bill aims to limit the stagnation of economic activity and its impact on jobs in the Moroccan tourism sector.
By Morgan Hekking - Apr 30, 2020 Rabat
Morocco’s government council convened today in the capital city to adopt Draft Bill 20.30, setting measures to support the tourism sector in the wake of steep losses due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Minister of Tourism Nadia Fettah Alaoui presented the bill, which lays out specific provisions relating to travel contracts, tourism residences, and air passenger transport.
Draft Bill 20.30 falls under Article 5 of Law 2.20.292 enacting special provisions for a state of health emergency and entailing the measures for declaring it
The holy month of Ramadan is an opportunity to try out delicacies that will add delightful color and variety to the iftar table.
By Jihad Dardar - Apr 30, 2020 Rabat
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims worldwide look forward to breaking their fast in an iftar meal directly after sunset, featuring a favored variety of foods, pastries, and drinks.
Ramadan is considered the most sacred month for Muslims. It should be a time of spiritual discipline, deep contemplation of one’s relationship with God, extra prayer, increased charity and generosity, and intense study of the Quran.
It is also a time for celebration, joy, and spending time with loved ones. One great way to achieve that is to break the fast over the iftar table with communal meals.
UNFPA and CNDH are teaming up in an effort to abolish underage marriages in Morocco, where the number of girls marrying below the legal age is rising.
By Kristen Gianaris - Apr 30, 2020 Rabat
The National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are making a collaborative effort to end child marriage and promote sexual and reproductive health in Morocco. The two humanitarian-oriented organizations signed a partnership agreement on April 29 in Rabat signifying their mutual objective of strengthening and promoting best practices regarding the interrelated issues.
The partnership comes after the CNDH’s national awareness campaign, “Marriage of Minor Girls: Abolish the Exception…Restore the Norm,” shared relevant data. The campaign calls on judges, journalists, civil society, professors, and lawyers to actively participate in the cause.
With the numbers of new COVID-19 cases starting to decline, Moroccan decision makers are brainstorming solutions to redress Morocco’s economy.
By Yahia Hatim - Apr 30, 2020 Rabat
Morocco’s Economic Monitoring Committee (CVE) is set to develop sectoral recovery plans that will support the Moroccan economy after the COVID-19 crisis.
The CVE, created to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Moroccan economy and society, held its sixth meeting on Wednesday, April 29 to implement new economic support measures.
The committee’s members discussed Morocco’s overall economic and financial situation, based on the most recent economic indicators. This allowed them to make forecasts about the country’s macroeconomic and trends in the main economic sectors.
The Spinosaurus was the largest predator to walk the earth, but evidence suggests the ancient dinosaur spent much of its life in water.
By Morgan Hekking - Apr 30, 2020 Rabat
Paleontologists have unearthed new fossils in southeastern Morocco that provide a deeper understanding of one of the greatest mysteries of the dinosaur world: The Spinosaurus. Moroccan-German paleontologist and researcher Nizar Ibrahim spearheaded the new study on the discovery of fossil bones from a Spinosaurus tail, published in the science journal Nature yesterday, April 29.
The Spinosaurus lived in North Africa 95 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. The highly unusual animal was the biggest predator to ever walk the planet, up to 15 meters (50 feet) long and weighing seven tons. During the Cretaceous Period, Morocco’s southeastern Kem Kem region was the most dangerous place on earth, home to giant meat-eaters, namely the 12-meter (40 feet) Bahariasaurus, 12-meter (40 feet) Carcharodontosaurus, similar to a T. rex, and Spinosaurus.
Paleontologists, however, had found little evidence of herbivores in the region, leaving them puzzled as to how such massive predators could survive in competition with each other and with minimal prey.
Morocco has benefited to the maximum from its geographical position and climate to gain an edge in the field of renewables, particularly solar energy.
By Hafssa Fakher el Abiari - Hafssa Fakher el Abiari conducts research in security, international relations, and conflict resolution. Apr 29, 2020
In usual times, the prices of crude oil fluctuate. In extraordinary times, like those the international community is encountering due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the oil industry undergoes a severe shock. Supply is far exceeding demand because economic activity worldwide has slowed down.
Experts argue the pandemic can disrupt the progress of many countries in the renewable energy sector, depending on the length of confinement and lockdowns. However, policy-makers can still turn this challenge into an opportunity by providing enough stimulus. In the Maghreb, Morocco’s renewable energy sector is resilient and will positively shape the post-pandemic region, especially because other Maghrebi countries like Algeria and Tunisia have also set strategies to uphold a smooth transition towards renewables.
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