Development in Morocco: Using Human Rights as a Tool
Wednesday 1 June 2016 - By “RPCV”Justin Bibee Rabat
Morocco has made great strides in recent years with a series of constitutional and legal reforms.
Morocco’s 2011 Constitution incorporated strong human rights provisions to protect the rights of its citizens with respect to free speech and assembly, and other fundamental rights. However, the implementation of these reforms has so far been slow. In 2015, for example, Moroccans exercised their right to peaceful protest in the streets, but police violently dispersed them, seriously injuring hundreds including women.
Coming to Morocco as an American Peace Corps volunteer, I have witnessed these events and have been profoundly affected. As soon as I arrived I fell in love with Morocco and the Moroccan people. While Morocco is a beautiful country aspiring to join the developed world, extreme poverty, disease, hunger, illiteracy, and gender inequality persist in Morocco. I wish to see the Kingdom and its people prosper, and it weighs heavily on my mind and brings tears to my eyes when I see what many Moroccans are going through.
Morocco has been one of the most progressive countries in the region in adopting human rights advancements and the establishment of institutions aiming at promoting human rights. However, despite the existing comprehensive legal and institutional framework, effective implementation is lacking, and significant challenges persist. The circumstances of people especially in rural areas across the country is appalling, as they live in extreme poverty without access to basic services such as adequate health, decent housing, or even drinkable water. These are of concern to me as human rights issues that cannot wait to be addressed and require immediate attention from the highest levels of national government.
Morocco has the wealth, knowledge, and awareness to take better care of its most needy people. What Morocco seemingly lacks is the political will and action on the part of the government. The leaders of Morocco need to take stronger steps toward advocating for and addressing human rights as a measure to ensure the economic growth of Morocco.
Many people mistakenly believe that in the absence of violence, there is peace. However, oppression and marginalization of people may still exist, not as loud or as visible, but just as devastating to the development of people and nations. Governments should stop viewing human rights as a problem, and instead view the commitment to human rights as a tool for development.
A peaceful, stable, and prosperous Morocco is one that can be delivered only through responsible, accountable leadership, a culture of respect for human rights, institutions for good governance, and most important, the sanctity of the rule of law. All of these factors contribute to economic stability and growth.
But it is not only the government’s responsibility. There is a great deal that Moroccan citizens can do on their own, proactively. Moroccans should not use “dysfunctional government” as an excuse for inaction. Moroccans should not wait for the government to introduce laws protecting freedoms. The citizenry should demand that they do. But do so peacefully, and legally. You yourself can make a difference by ensuring that you are not violating anyone else’s human rights and by standing up for those whose human rights are being violated.
Unfortunately, my term here is over, and I leave Morocco well aware of the challenges Moroccans face, yet optimistic about Morocco’s future. I hope that the potential I have seen in Morocco for a bright future will be realized. I believe that what happens to Moroccans is largely up to Moroccans, as it has always been and always will be. No challenge raises a bigger threat to Morocco’s economic development than continuing human rights violations. Eradicating them is a challenge. But no challenge Morocco faces lies beyond the power of Moroccans to surmount.
Justin Bibee served as United States Peace Corps Envoy to Sidi Kacem, Morocco from 2014-2016=============================================================================
Cadi Ayyad University Opens the First Career Center in Morocco
Wednesday 1 June 2016 -morocco world news Rabat
Cadi Ayyad University has opened a “Career Center” on Friday, May 27th as part of an agreement with the American Agency for International Development (USAID), according to an official press release. This center is supposed to be the first career center in Morocco which has the primary objective of increasing employability and facilitating the transition to the workforce.
Minister of Higher Education Lahcen Daoudi witnessed the inauguration of this career center alongside the Ambassador of the United States of America in Morocco, Mr. Dwight L. Bush Sr. and the president of the university, Mr. Abdellatif Miraoui. The career center is positioned at the Faculty of Technical Sciences (FST) and supported by USAID.
“It is the first career center in Morocco which is considered a platform dedicated to enhancing employability and facilitating the school-to-work transition,” said Abdellatif Miraoui. It will also open in different Moroccan cities including Casablanca, Marrakech, and Tangier in a total of three universities and three professional training centers.
The university pursued an ambitious goal, which has been executed in accordance with its strategy to develop a new methodology to include a greater use of technology. Moreover, opening this new center has impacted the pedagogy of innovation at the institution, making its leading status greater at the national and continental level.
The center is a new institution which aims to support and increase the efforts of students entering the job market by providing a diverse array of resources including information, preparatory classes, consulting, and intermediating between graduates and employers during internship programs.
Miraoui also said that “This new Center is the result of a fruitful partnership between USAID and the Ministry of Higher Education which illustrates the University’s engagement to actively respond to the pre-occupations of the socio-economic world in terms of soft skills and life skills for future recruits.” In addition to assisting to insert the institution’s graduates into the professional realm, USAID career center is planning to recruit 100, 000 youth by 2019.
American Delegation of Media Professionals and Businessmen Visits Morocco
Tuesday 31 May 2016 -Adnane Bennis Rabat
A business and media delegation representing several African American chambers of commerce is in Morocco this week to explore Morocco’s business, trade, and tourism potential to open up bridges of ongoing communication and understanding between the two countries’ business sectors.
Chaired by Ron Busby, President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), the delegation’s visit came as a follow up to previous American trade and business delegation visits seeking investment and trade exchange opportunities with Morocco.
For decades, Morocco has tried to shift its economy into a market economy, establishing free trade agreements with other countries, launching new infrastructure projects, exploring renewable energy potential, all with a view to present itself as the main hub for business in Africa. With this in mind, the American delegation has held a number of round tables and B2B meetings with Moroccan counterparts in Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, and Fez. The American delegation has toured a number of historical Moroccan monuments and tourist attractions representing the kingdom’s regional diversity, that have earned the country a reputation of being among the best worldwide destinations.
During the visit, Ron Rusby issued a press release urging the 250,000 members of his chamber to engage in trade and business opportunities with Moroccan counterparts.“Commerce among the nations contributes to economic stability and progress of both the United States and the Kingdom of Morocco. International trade provides regular and direct lines of communication between the citizens of the United States and the kingdom of Morocco,” said Rusby. He continued: “I urge business, labor, agricultural, educational and civic groups, as well as individual citizens of the United States, to engage the Kingdom of Morocco in gatherings, discussions, exhibits, ceremonies and other appropriate activities designed to promote commerce opportunities and continuing awareness of the importance of world trade between our mutual countries.”
The US trade delegation is being hosted by two Moroccan American media figures, Mohamed Dou Rachad, managing partner of 50 Frames LLC, a production company based in Washington, D.C., and Mohamed El Hajjam, the CEO of AV Actions, a top 20 media company based in Washington, and the primary organizer behind the project.
Highlighting the historical developments the U.S. is facing with the current Presidential election, Mr. Dou Rachid explained that “what happens in the U.S. will have repercussions not only in Morocco, but worldwide.” He said that, “Morocco’s long standing traditional relationship with the U.S. should be revised and reviewed in light of the current challenges the U.S. political parties are facing.”
“Morocco needs to break away from traditional approaches in dealing with media, because rapid technological developments in the field of mass communication are changing things on a daily basis. This requires those interested in the field of media to exert painstaking and continuous efforts not to fall behind and to cope with the rapid technological changes,” Dou Rachad told Morocco World News.
For his part, El Hajjam emphasized the crucial role Moroccans in the diaspora play to lobby for Morocco’s interests worldwide. Moroccans living abroad have much to offer to bridge the gap between their homeland and the countries in which they live, he said.“The role of the media has become so crucial, influencing and forming the concepts of cooperation and coexistence between nations and peoples. Moroccan local and international media figures offer a lot of creative ideas that need coordination and attention from both investors as well as decision makers,” he concluded.
Morocco final exams for 430,000, new anti-cheating measures: In 2015, 53% cheated. No smartphones, mandatory code of ethics
30 May, (ANSAmed) - RABAT
Final high school exams in Morocco will take place from June 7-9, starting on the first day of Ramadan, the month of fasting. The number of students who will sit the exam is 431,934, with the highest number concentrated in the northern districts of Casablanca and Rabat, the country's wealthiest areas.
The education minister said rigorous measures will be put in place so that the exams are carried out without cheating, which has been an issue in recent years, even to the point of becoming the centre of political scandals. In 2012, 67% of exam-takers were found to have taken part in an enormous case of "copying" the exam materials, which had been distributed by mobile phone. In 2015, fewer were found cheating, but the overall percentage, at 53%, remained high.
The majority of this year's candidates are male (237,460), and 61% of the questions will focus on scientific subjects, with the remaining 39% on literary subjects. The exam will be administered under strict supervision, with the use of smartphones and tablets prohibited. Those who sit the exam will be required to sign a form in which they agree to abide by a code of ethics and accept eventual consequences should they violate it.(ANSAmed).
Cigarette and Hashish Consumption on the Rise Among Moroccan Youth.
Tuesday 31 May 2016 - morocco world news Rabat
A study released by the National Observatory for Drugs and Addiction (ONDA) reveals that one in five Moroccan students has tried smoking cigarettes at least once and one in ten students has tried hashish. The study comes just ahead of World No Tobacco Day, which is observed around the world on May 31.
According to the Executive President of the Moroccan Federation for Tobacco and Drugs Prevention, Amina Baaji, Morocco is among the top countries for cigarette and drug consumption. Baaji cited the statistic that the number of Moroccan smokers in 2015 was 800,000 people (4-5 percent of the population) and that 750,000 Moroccans consume hashish.
Tobacco is the number one drug consumed in Morocco, followed by cannabis, alcohol, “soft drugs,” cocaine and marijuana, according to an article published by Le360. The Moroccan Federation for Tobacco and Drugs Prevention launched the new “For a Healthy Society” campaign in Salé on May 27 to teach students about the dangers of tobacco and drug addiction. The campaign will make stops at middle and high schools throughout the Rabat- Salé region.
World No Tobacco Day was created by the World Health Organization in 1987 with the aim of encouraging a 24-hour period of abstinence from tobacco consumption worldwide. The global health campaign also serves to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking
Is the United States Abandoning its Alliance with Morocco?
Wednesday 1 June 2016 - Samir Bennis New York
The Moroccan-American relationship is going through one of its worst periods since the Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed in 1787. While observers thought that Washington’s lack of support for Morocco in the Security Council in April was only a passing cloud, the U.S. State Department’s annual report on human rights in Morocco came along to add insult to injury. The report gives a grim picture of human rights in Morocco. This reflects America’s double standard in dealing with countries it considers among its “strategic allies.”
This policy goes in line with Obama’s foreign affairs orientation, which has alienated many allies, such as Saudi Arabia. All current indications attest to the fact that Washington is letting down a strategic ally that helped it significantly during the Cold War through the use of oil as a weapon to weaken the Soviet Union.
That Morocco – which has always considered the United States one of its main allies – denounced the Department of State’s report with scathing language and summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Rabat means that the relations between the two countries have entered a new phase that is fraught with risk. The dark image the report drew about human rights in Morocco shows three principal points: First, the statements the U.S. administration made during meetings with Moroccan officials were mere camouflage.
Second, the current U.S. administration most likely had the intention to use the report’s findings to revive its 2013 proposal to the Security Council, which called for the establishment of a mechanism to monitor human rights in the Western Sahara and Tindouf camps.
Third, the American administration bases its human rights reports on organizations known for their hostility to Morocco, especially the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Led by Kerry Kennedy, this organization is infamous for fabricating reports that have nothing to do with reality to defend the positions of groups it supports. An example that illustrates its lack of credibility is that Kerry Kennedy once worked with a law firm in New York to write fake and anonymous reports in order to extort money from oil company Chevron. After a two-year investigation, a New York court concluded that Kennedy’s allegations against Chevron, which she published in U.S. newspapers, were false and based on false reports of which Kennedy was fully aware.
The U.S. policy of double standards in regards to Morocco
To many observers, the United States’ ambiguous position with regards to the Western Sahara is surprising. Never before has Washington taken such a hostile position in total disregard of its strategic alliance with Rabat. A review of the statements released during the last seven years by U.S. officials shows they all emphasize that the U.S. position on the Sahara issue has not changed: the United States considers the Moroccan autonomy plan “realistic, serious and credible” and describes it as providing “ground to reach a consensual political solution.”
However, these positive statements did not prevent the U.S. administration from proposing the aforementioned draft resolution in 2013. Following the friction caused by the draft resolution, Washington returned to using the same statements in which it hails the “credibility and realism of the Moroccan plan.”
What many observers overlooked is that those statements were mere camouflage used by an American administration that does not sympathize with Morocco and does not consider it one of its priorities. Many officials in Obama’s second presidential term are well-known for their sympathy with the Polisario.
Susan Rice, who proposed the draft resolution to the Security Council in 2013, became National Security Adviser; John Kerry was appointed Secretary of State; and Samantha Power was made U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. These officials are not only known for not sympathizing with Morocco, but also for their support of the Polisario. For example, Kerry submitted a request to Congress in 2001 calling for Sahrawis to exercise self-determination.
Since January 2013, there has been a shift in the U.S. administration’s position towards Morocco. As soon as Hillary Clinton left office, things began to take a different turn. While Clinton was sympathetic with Morocco to some extent, the new team who took the lead took a different direction in regards to Morocco. The U.S. administration’s most recent report on human rights in Morocco not only reflects this new trend in the U.S. administration, but also the breakup of mutual trust between the two countries.
In light of the new orientation of Obama’s administration, it is unlikely that relations between the two countries will revert back to normal and that the bonds of mutual trust will be restored. Therefore, Morocco has realized that no good can be expected from the current U.S. administration.
A cloud that may unfold with the change of the U.S. president
It is important to note that American positions on a range of issues often change with the arrival of a new president. This means that Morocco cannot renounce its strategic alliance with the United States altogether or give up efforts to reverse or neutralize its position on the Sahara. The United States is the most influential country in the United Nations, and none can downplay the positive or negative role it can play in the Sahara issue.
Although predictions say that Hillary Clinton is likely to be the next U.S. President, Morocco should draw lessons from its experience with the current administration, and not consider American officials’ sweet talk as support regarding the Sahara. Despite all these statements, the U.S. has not taken any clear action to translate such talk into actual support for Morocco. Had there been real will to support Morocco, things would have not reached this level of uncertainty and distrust, and Washington would have not taken positions hostile to Rabat.
The distinguished relationship between Clinton and King Mohammed VI does not necessarily imply that she will provide unconditional support to Rabat. American politics are complex and the decision-making process is determined by many political and economic considerations. Many foreign policy decisions are based on studies carried out by think tanks that serve as guidance for American policy-makers.
Therefore, Morocco should deal cautiously with the next U.S. administration. Moroccan officials should reach out to various stakeholders and influential figures in decision-making circles in Washington. Moreover, Morocco should keep track of all the studies that shape American foreign policy and its priorities. Any future Moroccan policy regarding the United States must be built on accurate data and according to the orientations of the U.S. administration.
Morocco should also handle the current friction while being mindful of the importance of the United States on the world stage. Morocco should not deal with this country the same way it can with France or Spain. While Morocco is an integral part of the economic policies of these two countries, as well as their national security, this does not apply to the United States, which does not consider Morocco a priority in its foreign policy.
New American foreign policy shifts require a full mobilization of all Moroccan stakeholders, including universities and research centers, so as to understand their implications and explore the best way to enable Morocco to deal with them proactively.
An earlier version of this article was published on the New Arab
Samir Bennis is the co-founder of and editor-in-chief of Morocco World News. You can follow him on Twitter @SamirBennis
America’s Friend in North Africa Deserves Better
By J. Peter Pham May 19, 2016
It is written in the Book of Proverbs that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” In other words, a true friend will tell another unpleasant truths, conveying things the other may not want to hear, but doing so for the sake of the other’s own good, which is valued more than even the friendship itself. However, this wisdom is predicated on the assumption that what is communicated is itself objectively true and not based on bias, much less animus. The furor that has erupted in Morocco over its entry in the US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015, published in April, raises the question of whether the document falls into the latter, rather than the former, category.
On May 18, the US Ambassador to Morocco, Dwight Bush, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rabat to receive a formal protest, a rare rebuke from the North African kingdom that was the first sovereign country to recognize the independence of the United States, has had the longest unbroken treaty relationship with Washington, and is one of only three African states to be designated a “major non-NATO ally” of the United States. According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, the ambassador was called in by Deputy Foreign Minister Nacer Bourita who, in the presence of Mohamed Yassine Mansouri, head of Morocco’s intelligence agency (DGED), denounced the “deceptive content” of the report. Specifically, the minister cited three cases that highlighted “the clear manipulation and blatant factual errors that tarnish the State Department’s report.”
The ministry’s statement gives detailed responses to each of these cases, but the third case is illustrative of what aggravated the Moroccans. The State Department report cited the following as an example of Internet censorship:“[O]n June 29, a Casablanca court sentenced Hamid El Mehdaoui, editor of the news website Badil, to a four-month suspended sentence for allegedly defaming the head of the General Directorate of National Security [DGSN], Abdellatif el Hammouchi. El Mehdaoui had published an article about the death of Karim Lachaqr, an activist who died in police custody in May 2014. The court ordered both him and his source (not a journalist) to pay combined damages of 100,000 dirhams ($10,050) or face imprisonment.”
In reality, Hammouchi was only appointed head of the DGSN by King Mohammed VI on May 15, 2015, so he could not have been responsible for the alleged death in police custody the year before. Moreover, he had not yet assumed his post when the matter of Mehdaoui was disposed by the courts. In fact, it was the previous head of the security agency, Bouchaib Rmil, who, on June 4, 2014, filed the court case against the blogger for making false claims. That the writers of the report couldn’t get such basic facts right raises significant questions about either their competence or their good faith—if not both.
In fact, a closer examination of the report on Morocco shows just how much effort its writers put into it. It is rather telling that, of the 355 words in the executive summary for 2015, 272 are cut and pasted directly from the report drawn up for 2014—and 231 of the latter were lifted verbatim from the report for 2013. So much for providing the speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations with an up-to-date, “full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights” for the preceding year as required by law.
Even more damning are the omissions. Somehow, the diplomats responsible for the Morocco report didn’t think it was worth noting that on July 1, 2015, a law passed by the Moroccan parliament and promulgated by the king took effect that banned the trial or referral of civilians to military tribunals. This was a reform long sought by human rights campaigners in the country and endorsed, since 2013, by Morocco’s National Council on Human Rights (CNDH). Instead of highlighting this advance, which drew praise from the International Commission of Jurists at the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in January of last year, the authors of the State Department report concerned themselves with bemoaning “the lack of citizens’ ability to change the constitutional provisions establishing the country’s monarchical form of government.” That the American authors identified that grievance as the first of “the most significant continuing human rights problems” in the country (followed by alleged corruption and disregard for the rule of law by security forces) may well have been a Freudian slip.
All this may seem like “technicalities” or “inside baseball” on the part of analysts from the much-maligned “foreign-policy establishment,” but it has real-world implications. Amid the upheaval that swept across the Arab world beginning in 2011, Morocco has stood out as an exception. Not only has the kingdom avoided the extremes of revolutionary tumult and violent repression, but while their neighbors were still struggling to come to terms with the Arab Spring, Moroccans accelerated a process of political and social renewal already underway, ratifying a new constitution and holding elections that resulted in a coalition government led by a moderate Islamist party. While authorities have responded swiftly and decisively to the few terrorist attacks that the country has suffered, the Moroccan government has emphasized a broader campaign of countering extremist influences at their roots, not only in their country, but also sharing their experience and intelligence with other countries, including in Europe—in the process, making Morocco an anchor for security and development in northwest Africa. Moreover, with the increasing recognition, as the US Strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa acknowledged, “Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular,” Morocco plays a unique role as a gateway to business on the continent. These geopolitical and economic considerations don’t mean that the country gets a pass, but it deserves to have its friends confront it with the truth, not slapdash and spurious accusations.
I spoke on May 19 with the deputy foreign minister, Bourita, who told me: “The reason we are upset is not because we cannot accept criticism, but it has to be based on facts. We are not challenging your right to assess, even if we may disagree on the judgment, but your presumption to do so without the facts. The report seems to us to have had its conclusions written first and then ‘facts’ were sought to ‘prove’ those conclusions. And where the facts couldn’t be found, they were simply invented.” He went on to tell me that his government couldn’t just ignore the report because “our reputation and our national pursuit of stability through reform is all we have.” Consequently, he assured me, his government would spare no effort to refute what it viewed as falsehood. More will, undoubtedly, be forthcoming and it should: we shouldn’t expect less from a true friend.
J. Peter Pham is the Director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center. Follow the Africa Center on Twitter @ACAfricaCenter.
The art that's like a thousand stories
By Tom Bouchier Hayes and Tom Page, CNN May 17, 2016
Morocco has an oral culture when it comes to telling stories -- a tradition that is becoming disrupted by modernity and, argues Sara Ouhaddou, prosperity.
Ouhaddou, a French artist who lives and works in Marrakesh and Paris, finds inspiration in Morocco's ancient storytelling traditions. Earlier this year, her work was featured in the Marrakech Biennale."For my part (storytelling) is something I get from my family," Ouhaddou explains. "Maybe we also understood that (our) storytelling heritage was an oral heritage, so if we don't keep saying it it's going to be lost.
"For our parents it wasn't a problem that it was lost because they wanted something else. They were preoccupied with having a better life, but for us because they solved those problems. We are more about solving the cultural problems."
Ouhaddou is therefore transmuting oral tradition into physical forms. The artist looked to the 1960s notebooks of Moroccan filmmaker and writer Ahmed Bouanani, which contained drawings of traditional jewelry from the Atlas and the pre-Sahara South, as well as many popular Moroccan tales.
Her interpretation of classic stories was on show at Marrakech's stunning Bahia Palace. Combining two aspects of Bouanani's notebooks she presented at the biennial a well-known Moroccan fable involving an ogre, a princess, a hero and a haphazard rescue plan, with 700 individual ceramic pieces, fragments of imagination, sewn to a carpet with silk thread. "Yes there is a morality but there is also heritage: where we live, about how we behave, tradition we have and we have to keep," she says. "The names, the customs, maybe the imagery is Oriental for sure... but for the meanings, they are universal."
Made in collaboration with craftsmen and craftswomen the artist puts much stock in traditional methods -- fitting considering what they are trying to translate. In doing so Ouhaddou and her fellow artists at the biennial are proving there is more than one method to passing on culture, whilst augmenting it in the process. So is she part of a new breed of storyteller?"I think we are modern story tellers," she argues. "Being a storyteller with craftsmen helped a lot to revive the imagination.""It's a beautiful description. I love that description."
Feminist Islam in the West: Inclusive Mosque Initiative
Thursday 2 June 2016 By Christopher Thomas Rabat
Bern, Switzerland became the site of a new development in Islam, as a woman led Friday’s “Jumma” prayer on the May 27.
Not only did she defy the gender-norm of male-led prayers, she also chose not to wear a hijab, exposing her hair. The group which facilitated this prayer, the Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI), is very much aware of the boundaries which it seeks to cross. Among its goals is to “create an inclusive sacred space that welcomes all people,” as stated on its website’s Vision (Inclusive Mosque Initiative).
IMI launched in 2015 in the United Kingdom as an effort to bring Muslims of all backgrounds, including women and LGBTQ community members, together for egalitarian prayer. Their intent is to avoid judgement based on identity, and allow all Muslims to pray without discrimination.
Tamsila Tauqir, the United Kingdom coordinator for IMI, was quoted by the BBC as saying: “We want to offer Muslims an alternative space in which they can pray and meet. We will not discriminate against anyone, they can be Sunni or Shia, straight or gay, people with families and people without.”
This inclusive Jumma has mixed responses to its efforts to include all Muslims regardless of gender or lifestyle, including criticisms that certain IMI efforts run contrary to Islam. All leading sects of Islam currently separate male and female worshippers during prayer, which prompts many Muslims to reject the new efforts by IMI to mix genders. An imam affiliated with London’s The Hittin Institute, an Islamic think tank, voiced concerns with this new Islamic practice.
Imam Adnan Rashid claimed that “The orthodox values of Islam are very clear…the Qur’an is not going to change, the prophetic position is not going to change. Muslim thinking and practices are not going to change. So I don’t know what the point of this initiative is.” Tradition and classical Islamic customs have been established by over 1000 years of practice, and may not be easily changed in such dramatic ways.
IMI’s website maintains that they are not seeking to impose their own interpretation of Islam on others. Their website also states that “We don’t force anyone to change how they pray. We recently started an event with salah led by a very knowledgeable woman. One attendee did not want to pray behind a woman; so he chose to pray separately and then we continued to have an inspiring discussion.”
Likewise, they state that sexuality is “…a private matter between the individual and Allah.” Rather than enforcing progressive viewpoints, IMI regards itself as a space for congregating Muslims from varying backgrounds and with varying opinions, and seeks to accommodate them all.
This form of feminist Islam has allies in a variety of nations, including Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. However, significant traditionalist opposition remains in many nations throughout the world, and the movement has yet to progress into mainstream Islamic discourse.
Decriminalizing Homosexuality in Morocco
Wednesday 1 June 2016 - morocco world news By David Hazelwood Rabat
Day after day I continue to read about human rights cases happening in Morocco. Moreover, I am reading about Moroccans violating other Moroccans, Muslims violating other Muslims. Just yesterday I read an article about a couple being arrested on May 27 after being dragged from their home and severely beaten by a mob due to their sexual orientation. The same such incident happened in Beni Mellal just two months ago.
The fact is we all have a sexual orientation and a gender identity, and this shared fact means that discrimination against members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, is an issue that affects all of us.
All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. Across Morocco, there remain many instances where an individuals’ sexual orientation or gender identity can lead them to face imprisonment, violence or discrimination.
Homosexuality in Morocco is illegal under article 489 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes “lewd or unnatural acts with an individual of the same sex.” Those charged under Moroccan Article 489 of the Penal Code face a sentence of imprisonment ranging from three months to six years and a fine of up to MAD 1,200.
People detained or imprisoned solely because of their homosexuality or for their gender identity are considered to be prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
It is important for Moroccans – and others – to learn to accept others. Not only is this morally right, it is a development necessity. Morocco and Moroccans cannot develop and prosper as a country and a people if they do not have respect for human rights.
Citizens of Morocco must call for the decriminalization of homosexuality where such legislation remains, including a review of all legislation which could result in the discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people solely for their sexual orientation or gender identity. All such laws should be repealed or amended. The refusal of governments to address violence committed against LGBT people creates a culture of impunity where such abuses can continue.
David Hazelwood is an author and human rights activist. He is an American expat living in Morocco.
Jewish Jewish community enjoys ‘safe space’ in Morocco
By World Tribune on June 1, 2016
The following are excerpts from remarks by Jack Kadoch at an inter-religious forum in Tokyo on May 16.
It is a great honor to come to this great city to speak with you about the life and experience of the Moroccan Jewish community. This is because of the special nature of the Kingdom of Morocco, lying at the tip of Africa, close to Europe and with a population that is almost entirely Muslim. It is “a country that has been, and continues to be, in both its leadership and its people, an inspiring example of the protection of the rights of religious minorities”.
Ladies and gentlemen, the sentence I have just read is taken directly from the Marrakesh Declaration, drawn up in January this year at the end of a groundbreaking conference of Islamic scholars and intellectuals from over 120 countries to clarify and restate at this critical time the Islamic viewpoint on the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim majority countries.
This was convened under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco in the light of the turmoil facing many parts of the Muslim world.
This situation, as we know all too well, has seen the weakening of legitimate government rule and the issuing of edicts in the name of Islam which actually misrepresent its fundamental principles. This has resulted in cruel violence, affecting Muslims and religious minorities alike. Further, not only is the image of Islam in danger of being distorted but with that, the perception of life for religious minorities living in the Muslim world.
The truth is that, Moroccan soil has been a haven for one of the most important Jewish communities in the Arab world for 2,000 years without interruption, in rural as well as urban settings across the Kingdom. It has sheltered tens of thousands of Jewish as well as Muslim refugees, who together fled religious persecution in Spain and Portugal 500 years ago.
Today, members of the Jewish (and Christian) communities live mainly in a few large cities and probably make up less than 1 per cent of the total population of the country, yet both faiths are officially recognized in modern Morocco.
As President of the Jewish community in the Marrakesh region I can attest that Moroccan Jewish identity and life is openly acknowledged and supported within society. The majority of the Jewish community left the Kingdom during the last century, yet Jews of Moroccan heritage around the world maintain a warm association with the country that is expressed in different ways, on a public and a personal level. All of this stands out as something special within Jewish culture and history as well as in a global context.
In these critical times, how do we continue to express the values that make this possible? The starting point surely lies in the text of the Marrakesh Declaration itself, which sets out, from an Islamic perspective, the appropriate response to the current situation.
Based on this, various practical calls to action are outlined, directed at various groups – scholars, intellectuals, educationalists, politicians and innovators, Muslims and those of other faiths. One of these directs us “to rebuild the past by reviving this tradition of conviviality, and restoring the mutual trust that has been eroded by extremists using acts of terror and aggression”.
This is the essence of my role, which includes the privilege of experiencing daily life with Moroccan Muslims in a mutually respectful manner and the responsibility of preserving and sharing the Kingdom’s Jewish history and culture. As a developing country, cultural preservation is linked with vital human development projects in a progressive model for change set forward by His Majesty King Mohammed VI.
For example, we possess archive material of global importance, remaining neglected and uncatalogued in locations throughout Morocco. What better than to organize an archive project that not only involves established Jewish scholars, but also the Moroccan public, especially its youth?
We have the opportunity of utilizing historic synagogues and over 600 Jewish burial sites dotted across the Kingdom to publicize the Jewish historical presence and the positive aspects that arise as a result. One of these is a distinctively ‘Moroccan’ way of Jewish prayer and celebration that has points in common with our Muslim neighbors.
In this spirit, Jewish space could also be utilized for the benefit of the general community. For example, since 2012, in a village just south of Marrakesh, we have been in partnership with the High Atlas Foundation, an American-Moroccan non-profit organization, to allow them to plant organic fruit trees on land next to Jewish cemeteries. Once mature, the trees are handed over to disadvantaged local Muslim farming communities as part of a national initiative to overcome subsistence agriculture. At the same time, it happens naturally that the cemetery itself and the need for its upkeep gains publicity.
The intangible benefit is the trust that is established and reinforced, between different groups. This happens ‘on the ground’ and radiates out, via global media, with far reaching implications.
Perhaps – who knows – such initiatives may also have the effect of attracting and sheltering greater numbers of Jews living in Morocco in future generations. Yet it is clear that in general terms, all can benefit from such examples. To come full circle, the trust of which I speak has deep roots in Morocco because of an ancient, shared spiritual outlook that often transcends ethnicity and faith. Today I invite all present, of whatever culture, to join in partnership with this great enterprise.
The Moroccan Jewish community serves as a role model in several ways: its continuity of existence in a particular place; its preservation of traces of its past; its ability to integrate into general national life, to regenerate its institutions and act as a standard-bearer for its historical legacy as well as open up new avenues for the future.
It is also a model by virtue of its fidelity to the principles of tolerance and moderation, understanding and peace that characterize the often-noted ‘Moroccan exceptionalism’. This loyalty and sense of belonging was captured beautifully in the words of the new Moroccan Constitution of July 2011, which includes the term ‘Hebraic’ in its definition of Moroccan national identity.
The Jewish community within Morocco, anchored firmly in its historical and geographical heritage, has always favored the dynamic of healing and attachment to diaspora Moroccan Jewish communities. In this respect, it continues to be a link, a bridge and a point of opening and dialogue for peace.
Just as successive Moroccan kings have never denied their care to Jewish communities, so those Jewish communities have never denied their attachment to their Moroccan identity, whether they live in the Maghreb or under other skies.
The Kingdom of Morocco has neither denied nor forgotten her children, whether they live in Israel, Europe or the Americas. Likewise, more than a million Moroccan Jews have never cut the umbilical cord with their community and their country of origin where they return regularly, motivated by a strong emotional attachment and sense of belonging. Morocco can count on the active loyalty and employment of talent of Moroccan Jewish communities worldwide.
Dear friends, I should like to conclude by reiterating, on behalf of the entire Jewish community of Morocco, as well as from myself personally, our sincere wishes for the excellent health and long life of our beloved King,His Majesty Mohammed VI;may God glorify his name and may he find fulfilment in his son,His Royal Highness Crown Prince Moulay Al Hassan. May The Almighty protect you and bless all peoples, united in peace. AMEN
Thank you for your kind attention.
Shalom Älékhém wa Salam Äléykou wa Rahmatou ALLAH wa Barakatouh
Jacky Kadoch was born and raised in Marrakesh, Morocco and completed his education in Geneva. He has served as President of the Jewish community of Marrakesh-Essaouira since 2002 and in this role is active in the field of intercultural dialogue.
Jewish community enjoys ‘safe space’ in Morocco, Marrakesh Declaration, WorldTribune.com
New York Jews sing, dance with locals in Morocco and Tunisia
Rabbi Lankry: “We were able to bring light to Muslim communities and break stereotypes”
When was the last time you heard of a contingent of Orthodox Jews from the United States dancing and singing in Hebrew with locals in an Arab country? Well, that is what happened earlier this month when Rabbi Aaron Lankry of Kehillas Ohr Chaim in Monsey, New York, led 100 Jews to visit Morocco and Tunisia.
The diverse group, made up of modern Orthodox, Hassidic, Sephardi and Ashkenazi members, visited the graves of sages in Morocco. In Tunisia, they met with President Beji Caid Essesbi. “We were able to bring light to Muslim communities, and break stereotypes and bond with each other on a human level,” Lankry told The Jerusalem Post. “They were warm and accepting,” he said, adding that the Tunisian president was very kind, saying that anything the Jewish community in Tunisia needs, the country would provide. Essesbi mentioned that ancient Jewish manuscripts were being properly cared for.
In Morocco, local women blocked the pilgrims from entering the grave site of one of King Solomon’s sons, but Lankry’s group thawed a sensitive situation by initiating dancing and singing with the locals. The group wore djellabas to be sensitive to local custom, and brought 30 goats and sheep as gifts.
A Moroccan sheikh gave the Jewish group gifts and blessed them as they were served tea and dates. For the group, it was an experience of coexistence, a positive story that rarely finds its way into the newspapers.
Asked about if they felt any anxiety, the Rabbi Lankry responded, “We were nervous and didn’t know what the reaction would be. My father told me we were crazy for going into the lion’s den, but the result was positive.”“People are people, and with good will there is a chance for coexistence.” Rabbi Lankry said there were no security problems on the trip. They hired drivers in Morocco and were able to travel freely. In Tunisia, however, the security issue was tenser, he said.
Rabbi Lankry himself traces his Sephardi roots back to Morocco and his Monsey community is meant to be a melting pot of different kinds of Jews. Ohr Chaim members have previously visited Jewish sites in Europe and China.
From Casablanca to New York: A Celebration of Moroccan-Jewish Partnership
MENAFN - Morocco World News - 31/05/2016 Irina Tsukerman New York
On Tuesday, May 17, young American Jewish professionals from the American Jewish Committee's (AJC) young professionals chapter ACCESS NY, along with their colleagues at the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), came together with their Moroccan counterparts for a groundbreaking night of history and culture.
This night celebrated the strengthening of the relationship between the two communities in New York, and launched a new partnership with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Morocco in New York. With the support of the Mimouna Association, the Consulate, Tourism Office, and a Moroccan Jewish distillery Nahmias et Fils, Americans and Moroccans marked this momentous occasion after having coordinated a series of smaller dinner gatherings over the past several months.
Following a VIP cocktail hour with some of the AJC young professionals, as well as diplomats from the Consulate and Morocco's Permanent Mission to the UN, the audience gathered in the auditorium of the Center for Jewish History for the start of the formal program.
Despite delays caused by a massive train fire that disrupted thousands of New York commuters, several hundred people were in the audience. A special guest speaker from Morocco the Parliament's Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Mehdi Bensaid had missed two flights, but was still able to make it to the event in time to speak at the panel, fresh off the airplane.
The event opened with welcoming remarks from Consul General Mohammed Benabdeljalil, which underscored the Consulate's interest in the continuation of its joint programming with the AJC and the ASF. He recalled his own memories of celebrating Mimouna, a traditional Moroccan Jewish holiday marking the end of Passover, where Muslim neighbors would join their Jewish friends in cooking delicious food, singing, and dancing. Now, Mimouna is being revived in Morocco thanks to the efforts of the Mimouna Association and its college-age partners, some of whom were present in the audience.
Benabdeljalil's opening was followed by a beautiful travel video of Morocco's best tourist destinations: from the fantastic beaches and delicious cuisine to the the magical dunes of the Sahara. As was mentioned, Morocco is unique in that much of the tourism industry is aimed at locals, not just travelers from abroad. Moroccans invest in their own countrythe souvenirs tourists buy are also found in Moroccan homes.
Next, Dr. John Entelis, a professor at Fordham University and expert on North Africa, gave an enlightening talk about Morocco's geopolitical role. He explained how and why Morocco stands out among its neighbors as a model of stability, and more importantly, growth, innovation, and improvements in education. Entelis emphasized that unlike many of its neighbors, Morocco cannot rely on natural resources to be prosperous, and instead, focuses on making the best of its human resources. Although the country is poor due to its geographical limitations and lack of education, it admirably moves forward towards addressing these issues. Unlike nearby Algeria, Morocco had a short and less traumatic French occupation by France.
Likewise, the Spanish occupation did not cause an alarming level of national upheaval. During the Cold War, Algeria urned to the Soviet Union, but Morocco remained West-oriented and the King was able to unify the country by reaching Moroccans of all backgrounds. The balance of power between the monarch and the parliament creates a stable system that gives significant representation to a variety of different viewpoints. Even Islamists have their say, but within the context of checks and balances, and with no possibility of being regarded as symbols of martyrdom.
Entelis ended on an optimistic note about Morocco's determination and thoughtful course of action that is placing it ahead of its neighbors. The country strives not for dominance, but rather to be a model of stability and potential leader in entrepreneurship and innovation.
Jason Guberman, the Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation, added depth to the understanding of Morocco's unique position with respect to its Jewish citizenship by demonstration some of its accomplishments through the Diarna project. The Diarna project is a geomuseum that has preserved digital panoramas, as well as photographs and videos of Jewish historical sites and oral testimonies across the Middle East and North Africa. He showed the audience pictures of a beautiful synagogue, one of many preserved carefully in Morocco, where many Muslims care for sites in communities where Jewsmany of whom have immigrated to other countriesare no longer present.
Additionally, Guberman showed pictures of a cemetery, just one of over 150 cemeteries designated by the King for protection and preservation. Morocco has uniquely proscribed the preservation of its Jewish heritage in its new Constitution, and has clearly been observing the spirit, as well as the letter, of that document. Other videos shown by Guberman included that of a Moroccan Jew speaking in his native Judeo-Moroccan Arabic dialect, as well as a Muslim man happily recalling Jewish prayers he had the occasion to observe.
The final portion of the program concluded with a panel moderated by Jason Isaacson, AJC's Director of International Affairs, a political expert, and decorated by the King of Morocco. Isaacson engaged in conversation with the Mission's Deputy Ambassador Abederrazzak Laazzel, as well as Mehdi Bensaid, who offered a great deal of additional insight from his perspective. Isaacson engaged both officials in the discussion of Ban Ki Moon's 'slippage' about the 'occupation' of Western Sahara. Isaacson clarified for the audience what the UN Secretary General's remarks actually were an insult to Morocco and its role in countering terrorism and religious extremism, as well as its role in creating the Marrakech Declaration.
Upon the conclusion of the formal program, the audience joined AJC and ASF staffers outside in the Great Hall for a taste of fun and celebration that can be expected from the partnership in the future Moroccan style. A Moroccan band, led by the renowned singer Jawad, played music that got the audience on their feet and dancing. When people were not dancing, they were eating delicious traditional Moroccan fare, catered by kosher restaurant 'Eighteen.' Even a talented henna artist contributed to the party by giving guests beautiful henna tattoos on their hands.
The celebration went well into the night and was a tremendous success, but this is just the beginning of an important partnership.
Unseen Unseen Morocco
By: John Pearson 01.06.2016
John Pearson joins an LRO Adventure Club recce trip down through Morocco – but a detour to a scenic route through the mountains turns into a scary adventure
Travelling around the world, there are occasions when things can go seriously wrong, especially when they’re outside your control – like the weather.
I’ve experienced a total white-out in a blizzard on an Icelandic mountain, when the Land Rover a few yards ahead of me disappeared completely from view. And, on this Moroccan trip, a freak hail-and-rain storm turned a pleasant scenic drive on
a mountain track into a scary adventure. Scary, but exhilarating.
A group of us were in Morocco to meet up with Vince and Ed Cobley for a reconnaissance of a new route for the LRO Adventure Club. We were staying at the Timnay campsite near Midelt, 100 miles south of the major towns of Fes and Meknes. We had a day to spare, due to Vince allowing us more days to get there than we needed. Some of us decided to head for the Cirque du Jaffar, a picturesque 50-mile drive along unsurfaced tracks in the shadow of the Ayachi mountain. At 12,260 feet this is the highest peak in the eastern High Atlas mountains, the vast range that sweeps across Morocco from the Atlantic to the Algerian border.
The skies were clear as we set off in a five-vehicle convoy. There were the three Disco 3s of Pat Thompson/Nigel Jones, John Fyfe/Alan Edgar and Trevor Edge – all of whom I’d met before on a Tunisia adventure. There were also Ken and Jo Brayshaw in their Disco 2, and my partner Pat Summers and I in the 2.4 Defender double cab that I had on test.
We passed through some small villages then headed out into the flat countryside on loose-surfaced tracks before starting to climb on the mountain tracks. The views were impressive as we stopped to check the GPS and stretch our legs. But as we climbed further, dark clouds were forming menacingly over the mountains – a storm was on its way.
The tracks became ever-steeper and narrower, hugging the mountainsides as we continued climbing to more than 7000 feet. Then the weather turned nasty, with forks of lightning and the boom of thunder in them thar hills. There was heavy rain followed by hail, turning the mountainsides white. Our track became increasingly slippery, slowing progress and making us all concentrate very hard on how we were driving the loose-surfaces, which were occasionally off-camber – which is not ideal when there’s a big drop-off to one side. I was crawling the 110 along in low-range second gear using minimal revs. A D3 in front accelerated harshly and the wheels slithered towards the edge, the driver quickly backing off to bring it in line again.
This prompted some in the group to wonder what they’d do if their vehicle did slip over the edge. There was no way to find grip, so the driver would have to try and steer into something like a tree to stop against rather than plummet all the way to the bottom.
But that wasn’t going to happen because we were in surefooted vehicles that were performing heroically in the extreme conditions – which is, after all, one of the reasons why we all buy Land Rovers.
The hail stopped, but it was still raining; and water gushing down the mountainsides was causing washouts at the various turns we encountered. The track was literally washing away in front of our eyes and careful choice of line was crucial to get around. We worked as a team, spotting one another through the tricky sections to make sure we were on the correct lines.
On a couple of turns, we had to nudge the outside wheels up the mountainside to make sure the inner wheels kept away from the precipice. We started to descend eventually, but we encountered a number of swollen streams and rivers – which were getting deeper by the minute. An uprooted tree floated down one of the rivers between two crossing vehicles, narrowly avoiding both.
It’s at times like this when all of the training we’ve done and experience we’ve gained is put into practice – inexperienced drivers would never get out of a situation like this. We crossed more swollen rivers and continued along sodden tracks until, suddenly, we were at the bottom and turning on to a road. Suddenly, our scary adventure was over, but we’ll never forget it – and we’ll be talking about it for some time to come.
Sadly I haven’t got any photos from the really tricky sections – because I was concentrating on getting us out safely and as quickly as possible. Back at the Timnay camp, Vince, Ed and the Adventure Club team had arrived with some other AC members who had been on an earlier trip. There were about 50 Land Rovers within the camp’s walls; and the small bar/restaurant did a roaring trade that night.
The next day, those at the end of their adventure headed north and the rest of us – 20 Land Rovers in total – drove off south for the main purpose of this trip, to recce a new route for the Adventure Club. The plan was to take in the stunning Todra Gorge (which features in traditional LROAC trips), but then heading along part of the Dakar Rally route in the deep south before cutting south-west to Tan Tan on the Atlantic coast.
From here, we would head north along the beautiful Atlantic shoreline, then cut through the Atlas mountains on the high-altitude Tazi ne Tiznet pass before dropping down into bustling Marrakech for a visit to this amazing city, with its fascinating sights, sounds and smells.
Much of Morocco had experienced bad weather; and when we reached the Todra Gorge, the road that the locals have worked so hard to build in recent years was washed away in parts. Experts say the best time to go through the gorge is early morning, when the sun changes the colour of the rocks from pink to a deep red-brown. It was afternoon when we got there, but it was still stunning, and the sun was shining. Hopefully, it would continue to do so for the rest of the trip – which will be featured in the July issue.
The full story can be found in the June 2009 issue of LRO. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
The Origins and Lawfulness of Sufism in Islam
Saturday 28 May 2016 - morocco world news By Nassim Chaoui Ghali Fez
Sufism is difficult to describe because it cannot be reduced or categorized. It is as elusive as the scent of a rose to someone who has never experienced it, and remains difficult to describe even for someone who has.
Labels such as mysticism, spirituality, or esotericism provide points of reference; nevertheless, they are often too limited to express Sufism and its associated phenomena throughout history (Chittick 2000, 1). The term Sufism is a misnomer in the sense that words ending with “-ism” indicate philosophies and social movements that have distinct beliefs and qualities, which is inappropriate for Sufism (Ernst 1997,19).
Muslims and non-Muslims oftentimes intermingle Sufism as a sect of Islam. Rather, it is more accurately depicted as an aspect or dimension of Islam. The 14th century Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun, described Sufism as: “……… dedication to worship, total devotion to Allah most high, disregard for the finery and ornament of the world, abstinence from the pleasure, wealth and prestige sought by most men, and retiring from others to worship alone.”
Ibn Khaldun’s statements are a veracious description of the Sufi people. Sufis assert that Islamic knowledge should be learned through teachers instead of books because it is based on lived experience. Tariqas can trace their teachers via generations (Silsila) to the Prophet (peace be upon him). While the Sufi population is relatively small, it has made an impact on Islamic thought and history through precious contributions to Islamic literature. For instance, Imam Al-Ghazali, or the so-called Hujjat al-Islam (proof of Islam), wrote more than 70 books about distinct spheres including sciences, Islamic philosophy, and Sufism.
Imam Al-Ghazali’s influence has extended beyond Muslim lands and is quoted by Western philosophers and writers. Today, several of Al-Ghazali’s books are discussed and analyzed in many American and British universities, especially “The Revival of Islamic Sciences” and “The Alchemist of Happiness.” One should not forget, however, that Sufis were contributors to the permeation of Islam throughout the world.
Sufism remains one of the Islamic sciences that was established roughly in the first few centuries after the Prophet’s death (peace be upon him) to further the Hadith (an account, report, or speech, concerning the words or deeds of the prophet Muhammad, his tradition), Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and Tafsir (discussion, interpretation of the sacred texts). Basically, these Islamic sciences were generated to prevent Islam from being modified or vilified. Hence, the representatives of traditional Islamic learning (ulamaa al-umah) decided to found the rules and principles of these sciences, which ensure continuity for religion and Islamic knowledge.
The efforts of religious scholars were split into many parts, and each body was responsible for realizing one genre of the sciences. For example, some scholars specialized in Hadith, others worked on Islamic law (jurists), and so on. In fact, all of these sciences were not present at the time of prophecy; nonetheless, they were established later on so as to return Muslims to the state of the age of prophecy. The Islamic sciences were not rejected or refuted by people, who agreed that they would operate in favor of religion.
Sufism itself was brought up in accordance with the Holy Quran and tradition of the Prophet as other schools were formed, such as Tafssir, Fiqh, and Nahw. The primary purpose of setting up the science of Sufism was to pave the way for spirituality and ethics to settle in peoples’ hearts, returning to the ways prevailing during the life of the Prophet.
There are several instances in the Quran and Hadith that discuss such meanings and their salience to Muslims’ lives. Furthermore, the spiritual and ethical life is paramount for those seeking knowledge of Allah. In Islam, these meanings describe the locus and intention of practicing religion.
To summarize, Sufis had to translate and record a science which serves to protect this knowledge, namely the “spiritual and ethical,” by grounding the legitimacy of this science with a manner conforming to the Holy Quran and Sunna (what the Prophet said, did, agreed to, or condemned).
Chittick, William. 1983. The Sufi Path of Love. NY: State University of New York Press.
Ernst, Carl. 1997. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc.
Ibn Khaldun. 1377. The Introduction. Page (3/989).
The Moroccan Garden of One Man’s Dreams
By UMBERTO PASTIMAY 30, 2016
In the rough countryside of northern Morocco the writer and horticulturist Umberto Pasti has created Rohuna, his garden, which is nothing less than autobiography writ from earth and flora.
I FIRST CAME HERE, to this patch of dusty land 40 miles south of Tangier, 18 years ago. Tired after a long walk, I fell asleep under a fig tree and had a strange dream, full of words whose relation to one another I didn’t understand: mouth, nasturtium, exedra, unicorn.
At the time, I didn’t know that the jinn, the local spirits, possess those who fall asleep under trees in the middle of nowhere. What I did know was that I was going to build a garden here. I told my Moroccan friend who was traveling with me that I wanted to buy the land. There were 20 or so owners to negotiate with, but after about 100 meetings with the adouls, Muslim notaries, the deal was done. In the meantime, I’d already set myself up in a shack made out of reeds and palm leaves, built with help from Rachid, the obsidian-eyed child who had popped out from behind a bramble one day, a huge smile on his face. Today, he is Rohuna’s head gardener. Objectively, it wasn’t an ideal place for a garden. Sure, a few trees grew in the dusty, scorching heat — three figs, a small cluster of pomegranates and a eucalyptus — and the view, of the sleepy, stony ground, of the ocean, was biblical, the solitude exciting. But, unfortunately, you could only get there either by scrambling along a difficult path or on the back of a mule. The chalky soil was in many places, in fact, sand or lifeless clay. The temperature could climb to almost 122 degrees and the rocks were home to scorpions and vipers, including the rare, magnificent Vipera latastei, whose bite is lethal. What’s more, the peasants who lived in the village nearby were stubborn and suspicious, and many had never seen a European.
My father had died not too long before, leaving me some money. I used all of it making up for the roadblocks that destiny had placed in my path as a gardener. By the time my Cleopatra syndrome reached its height, I had hired 600 workers: There were three houses to build, a track to lay down miles of stone, walls to erect. And in the meantime we had to transport hundreds of tons of good topsoil so that everything would turn out as I had dreamed. My vision for the garden, I am still convinced, is for how it has always been — but always when? In what dimension did a sliver of Moroccan countryside coincide with something out of the background of a Renaissance painting, populated by centaurs, basilisks, hippogriffs?
THESE WERE TIRING YEARS, but there were also many moments of joy: the morning on which the pump we’d attached to the third probe yielded a crystal-clear rivulet; when coming back from Tangier, I saw the Iris planifolia that, months before, we’d transplanted by the thousands from the construction site of a tourist dock, all in bloom. In the beginning, I was very strict with myself. Other than fruit trees, I only planted greenery threatened by the urbanization that has disfigured northern Morocco, snatching them from the jaws of excavators and bulldozers: gigantic olive trees, holly oaks, strawberry bushes, viburnum shrubs and fig trees. Then I let myself go, but only in the ornamental terraces around the houses, where I liberally planted the species that I’d seen in the gardens in the country’s north: Damask roses, Madonna lilies, Canna indica, Iris germanica and Iris pallida (Dalmation irises), Dietes iridioides (fortnight lilies), tithonia, hollyhocks, carnations and geraniums. These terraces, of which there are roughly 20, are each themed. There’s the Englishman’s Garden, with its lilies and fuchsias; the Italian’s Garden, planted with olives, myrtle and lilies of the Nile, and the Egyptian Garden, because when I sit there I feel as if I’m in Luxor. I surprised my partner and guardian angel with Stephan’s Terrace, which I named after him. We now drink gin and tonics there on summer nights. And Bando’s Gardens take their name from one of the gardeners; the meandering bloodlines of his family, one of the oldest in the village, leave me as awestruck as those of the Guermantes family do the narrator of “In Search of Lost Time.” In these gardens, it’s my men who decide what to plant among the mulberries, the apricots and the pears, delighting me with their audacity: orange Streptosolen jamesonii (marmalade bushes) next to beer-colored Tecoma garrocha alongside horseshoe pelargoniums as red as the idea of red itself, purple African daisies and Tagetes lemmonii (Lemmon’s marigold), those perfumed clouds of gold.
BUT THIS GARDENER’S heart truly resides beyond the path that leads to the village, on the margins of the forest of fig trees that yields, as in a fable, to the wooden bridge built for me by my friend Najim. Here wild plants grow — roughly 300 native species — from the magisterial Quercus ilex, the evergreen oak, to the minuscule Acis tingitana, and all the rock roses, euphorbia, helianthemum and thyme that made northern Morocco a paradise. Wild bulbs are our forte: There are 17 species of iris (six native), 12 narcissus varietals, five kinds of ornithogalum (stars-of-Bethlehem) and tulips, romulea, merendera, dipcadi, fritillaries, gladioli, grape hyacinths, crocuses, meadow saffrons and garlics. And I’m not talking about small clusters. Such boundless Phoenician horizons demand courage. For winter picnics, straw mats and rugs are spread out among the thousands of Iris tingitana (Moroccan irises) — in their honor we drink mint tea and break bread.
To live in this Arcadia is a great privilege. Here, the lives of people are intertwined with the lives of plants and of the animals, and the rhythms of nature itself. This is the Morocco that I love more than anything else in the world, the noble and rustic Morocco for which I live. I am grateful to the men who work with me — and to the jinn that possesses me still.
Translated from Italian by Miranda Popkey
Rights Organization Calls on Morocco to Adopt Minimum Employment Age
Monday 30 May 2016 - Amjad Hemidach Fez
The Executive Branch of the Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humains (OMDH) released a statement calling for Morocco to adopt a minimum age of employment of 18 years old.
The organization based its recommendation on the United Nations convention on the Rights of the Child, whose first article stipulates that “a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years.”
The OMDH called for creating a special law limiting the tasks domestic servants should do and the number of working hours. The OMDH also reminded the government of the international conventions such as the International Labor Organization 182 Convention in 1999 in Geneva, which concerns the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, and the International Labour Organization 138 Convention in 1973, which Morocco signed in 2001. This convention stipulates in Article three that “The minimum age for admission to any type of employment or work which by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of young persons shall not be less than 18 years.”
The Moroccan organization of human rights emphasized the need to “come to grips” with the phenomenon of child labor through implementing compulsory education to the age of eighteen, preventing children dropping out of school, and eradicating poverty, which are the main leading causes behind child labor used mainly as domestic servants.
The rabat-based organization pointed out that domestic labor is one of the worst forms of child labor that we should prohibit because of the long hours of work, the use of chemical and poisonous products, carrying heavy loads, the use of sharp-edged instruments, living in unsuitable conditions, ill-treatment, and being exposed to physical and verbal violence and sexual harassment.
Why I left England and I settled in Morocco
Wednesday 1 June 2016 - morocco world news By Lisa Jane Fallon Rabat
I have lived in the United Kingdom of Great Britain all my life of 32 years and will always be proud of my homeland but a new adventure was on the horizons. After many visits to Morocco and all its wonders, I decided to take a big leap of faith and quit my homeland in favour of something incredibly different. After leaving high school I studied hard and went on the journey of becoming a teacher and a teacher is what I became. Being a teacher was such an amazing pleasure until the English governmental pressures of getting excellent grades became increasingly worse and I could see myself becoming trapped in this ‘robotic’ lifestyle of ‘work, eat, sleep, repeat’. I bravely decided on quitting this ‘rat race’ as we call it in the UK, and grab hold of life with both hands.
I wanted to start living a more real and rural life-I wanted to live somewhere with a special connection to nature, somewhere with astonishing sunsets, somewhere with a rich beautiful culture and what better place than Morocco. So I left one Kingdom for another and have settled in the lovely coastal city of Asfi.
My cultural roots are very different to the culture of Morocco and at first, my family were very inquisitive about my move to Morocco and had concerns over the fact that it was a Muslim country. I told them that the only way for them to truly understand the Moroccan religion and culture was for them to visit the country. And so they did.
Their misconceptions of the religion disappeared and they fell in love with Morocco just as much as I did. They came to stay with me in Asfi for a while, which really gave them a true insight and fell in love with the people, food and the diversity of the land. I then felt piece with the happiness of my family and was then free to start enjoying my new adventure in life.
Morocco is such a rich beauty and I could write forever about the delights of the country. I wish to share some of my adventures of living in a rural countryside with not many tourists. It can be difficult at times, but it is impossible to find faults when you have a view of the Atlantic Ocean every day.
I eat fresh food each day and eat with my new Moroccan family who take such pride in cooking fresh wholesome food. Eating in Morocco is an experience in itself, sharing a dish and ripping up pieces of bread for each other almost feels like a ritual that is so comforting.
I love to see the animals in Morocco that are free to roam and hunt food for themselves and you often see dogs running by with chicken legs in their mouths. This used to upset me, but I have learnt to understand that this is nature and is much better than keeping dogs on leashes and in the house all day as many English families do.
I have started to go to school each day-catching the bus with the locals, to study the Moroccan Arabic which is an amazing tool to have. Moroccans are delighted when you can speak Arabic with them and also feels amazing on my part too.
Morocco has so many charming places to visit and each weekend, I explore new places-my favourites being the more rural places such as Imsouane to see the old fisher men selling the fresh fish that they work so hard to catch, Essaouira and the enchanting medina with their artistic creations which are getting more and more unbelievable, the famous Sahara and driving deep into the Atlas Mountains, eating goat tagines next to waterfalls.
I made the right choice in life to live in this beautiful country and I would not swap it for the world. Sometimes you have to wake up and just live.
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