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Morocco Week in Review 
May 13 2017

Two Moroccan MPs Call for Tax on Inheritance to Fund Education, Healthcare

By Amira El Masaiti - May 12, 2017 Rabat

Two deputies of the Federation of the Left in the House of Representatives recently called for a tax on wealth and inheritance to finance the education and healthcare reform in the country. The proposal was just denied by the Minister of the Economy and Finance, Mohamed Boussaid. Omar Balafrej and Omar Chennaoui suggested the tax as an amendment to the 2017 Finance Bill, saying that the lack of resources and human skills are the real causes of slow economic growth, which could be amended for if the purposed tax plan is implemented. Boussaid criticized the two deputies’ proposal, saying that such measures could frighten investors and push the country’s GDP backwards.

With the wealth tax, the two deputies estimated that those with a fortune worth between MAD 5 million and MAD10 million would have to pay 0.1 percent tax per year. Those whose fortunes varies between MAD 10 million and MAD 20 million are excepted to pay 0.2 percent, while those with a fortune exceeding MAD 20 million will have to pay a tax of 0.5 percent. Balafrej and Chennaoui calculated that the proposal would generate revenues of around MAD 4 billion, which would go into reinforcing health and education sectors, reports the daily Akhbar Al Yaoum in its May 12 edition.
The two deputies of the Federation of the Left also proposed another tax on inheritance. They pushed for a 1 percent tax on inheritance valued at less than MAD 100,000, and 5 percent on inheritance worth between MAD 100,000 and MAD 1 million.

The proposed reform suggested a 10 percent tax on inheritance estimated between MAD 1 million and MAD 10 million. As for inherited assets between MAD 10 million and MAD 50 million, the tax would reach 15 percent. With inheritance evaluated between MAD 50 million and MAD 100 million, the tax would rise up to 20 percent, reaching 30 on inherited wealth estimated at more than MAD 100 million.


Ministry of Education Promises to Tackle School Overcrowding, Improve Rural Education

By Morocco World News - May 13, 2017Rabat

Minister of National Education, Mohammed Hassad, presented the ministry’s plan for the upcoming school year on Thursday, pledging to alleviate school overcrowding, improve conditions in rural schools, and strengthen social support services. At the House of Representatives, in the presence of the committee of education, culture and communication, the minister said the changes would benefit new pupils as well as Morocco’s schooling system overall.

The minister promised the construction of more than 50 educational buildings throughout Morocco, in addition to 10 boarding schools. Hassad also said the ministry plans to hire the necessary number of teachers, to curb the deficit of educators in Moroccan schools.

On Monday, Hassad visited five educational establishments in Khemisset province. The objective was to meet with educators and directors of high-schools and primary schools in order to discuss the challenges they are facing, including their needs and what measures should be taken to improve the quality of education for the benefit of new pupils.

Gnawa Festival Celebrates its 20th Anniversary of the Rhythm of World Music

By Amira El Masaiti - May 12, 2017 , Rabat

Essaouria’s highly regarded Gnawa festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a host of national and international artists to add yet another touch of spirituality to the city that inspired Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Paul Bowles and The Rolling Stones. Following a roller coaster ride of 20 years, around 1000 artists and massive audiences, the festival’s popularity has grown on an international platform. This year’s celebration of Gnawa festival will take place between June 29 and July 1, filling Essaouira’s streets with the soothing voice of Hindi Zahra,The soulful tunes of Lucky Peterson and the ancient African, spiritual and religious songs of the old and the young Gnawis.

While the festival’s program is yet to be announced, the invited performers have beenmade public. They are numerous, talented and certainly worth attending.

Maâlems: Translated into “that who knows” in English, GnawiMaalems are musicians capable of inducing trances with their guembri (sinter). The festival has invited 18 Maalems, all fueled with talent and expertise, making the Gnawi trance hard to miss.

Maâlem: Student of a Sudanese slave, El Kasri has immersed himself in the world of Tagnawit for several decades. He combines Gnawa rhythms from the north and south of the country to produce an unprecedented musical fusion. His deep and intense voice has won him appreciation and respect from many critics.

Maâle: Talented and inspirational, Kouyou learned the ancient art from his mother in Marrakech. He currently has his own group. His breathtaking music has echoed all over Morocco and various countries.

Mustapha Bakbou: A child of Tagnawit, Mustapha Bakbou grew up in a Gnaouizaouia where his father was Maalem El Ayachi Bakbou.

Bakbouhas performed with the famous Moroccan group,JilJilala. The artist is renowned for his collaborations with international artists such as Pat Metheny, Louis Bertignac, Eric Legnini and French jazz band Sixun at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival. He has also performed in America, China and Europe.

The festival will also offer performances by MaâlemKbiber, MaâlemHassa, Maâlem Abdelkebir Merchane,Maâlem Abdenbi El Guedari and many talented others.
International Artists True to its multicultural precept, Gnawa Festival Music of the world has invited some of the most celebrated International artists.

Lucky Peterson: Contemporary Blues, Soul, R&B, Gospel and Rock n Roll musician, the “master of the guitar, organ and microphone,” as described by The New Yorker, will offer a performance at the festival to unite the audience with his distinctive voice and swift fingers. “His musicianship is unassailable. It is a combination of sleek-handed dexterity and imagination, a happy marriage of blues authenticity and foot-pleasing dance-ability. This is a musician of unlimited enthusiasm and nearly unlimited potential having the time of his life and excelling at every stop along the way,” said Chicago’s reader about the artist, so be sure you’re up for something exceptional.

Carlinhos Brown: Brazilian musician, songwriter and record producer, Carlinhos Brown, is a name to remember, and the public will surely remember him after his festival performance.
Fusing tropicalia, reggae and traditional Brazilian percussion, Carlinhos learnedthe secrets of percussion instruments and developed a personal style that has awarded him the Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album twice, one in 2013 and the other in 2014 at the Latin Grammy Awards.
Bill Laurance
Grammy Award winner and original member of the internationally acclaimed jazz and funk collective, Snarky Puppy,the artist will grace the festival with a not-to-be-missed performance.
His debut album, Flint, was a chartbuster in 2014, receiving global critical acclaim after it topped the iTunes Jazz Charts. He is a pianist, keyboard player, composer, producer and arranger, recording and performing with the likes of David Crosby, Morcheeba, Salif Keita, Bobby McFerrin and Susana Baca.

Moroccan Artists
Hindi Zahra: Compared to Beth Gibbons, Billie Holiday and Norah Jones, Hindi Zahra is one of the musical gems of Moroccan contemporary song. Fusing English, Arabic and Amazigh, the artist has written about 50 songs including the well-known Beautiful Tango,The Man I love and Stand Up. With a subtle, softly-played guitar, a palate of emotions felt and read in her lyrics, the audience will surely stand still, attentive and emotional before the artist.

Marsa Band: Marsa Band is the creation of eight Moroccan musicians, nurtured by the Gnawa Festival Gnaoua itself, the band is inspired by Arab-Andalusian music, reggae, funk, jazz, Latino. They have performed several times at the Gnaoua Festival.

Mehdi Nassouli: Mehdi Nassouli grew up in the vibrant culture of Gnawa music. Passionate about the guembri and Tagnawit, Nassouli spent a decade learning about the various Moroccan musical genres. He has collaborated with many international artists including French guitarist,Titi Robin, Benjamin Taubkin, Justin Adams, Alpha Blondy and Herbie Hancock, fusing African, Amazigh and Gnawa music and international rhythms.

African Artists
Rey Lema: A pianist, guitarist, and songwriter, Congolese Rey Lema, plays the music of Africa and the world. The musician composes for theater and movie trailers and has won several awards including the Django d’Or. He has released approximately twenty albums, each unique, and all are marked by Rey Lema’smusical language.

Gnawa Diffusion: Rich in musical and cultural backgrounds, Gnawa Diffusion fuses its own personal style with reggae, jazz, Gnawa music and rai to create a unique musical palette. The Algerian band uses its talent and creativity to bring forth political and social issues in their homeland, while advocating for self-development andimprovement. Their lyrics are written and performed in Algerian Arabic, French, Amazigh and English.

Ismeal Lo: Ismeal Lo is a Senegalese guitarist, harmonica player and singer. He has been touring the globe for a couple of years playing world music. He makes use of his unique voice and style to discuss the reality of Senegal, singing and informing on issues such as racism in his home country.

GIEWS Country Brief: Morocco

from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 10 May 2017 — PDF (147.72 KB)


Favourable prospects for 2017 winter grain harvest
Harvesting of the 2017 winter grains will start shortly. Unlike in 2016 when only 2.7 million tonnes of wheat and 600 000 tonnes of barley were harvested mainly due to poor and erratic rains, prospects for the 2017 harvest look very promising. While parts of Morocco suffered from autumn drought up to mid-November 2016, which delayed plantings in some areas, good precipitation later in the season replenished soil moisture, improving yield prospects. The total area planted with winter cereals in the current season is 5.11 million hectares, compared to 3.6 million hectares in the previous year. Being largely rainfed, cereal production in Morocco is highly variable. Moroccan dams cover only 15 percent of its agricultural land, with rainfed agricultural production accounting for 85 percent of aggregate output.

Wheat imports increased in 2016/17 owing to limited domestic production but expected to decrease in 2017/18
Morocco relies heavily on wheat imports to cover its consumption needs. Morocco’s cereal imports in 2016/17 (July/June) are forecast at 9.1 million tonnes, 23 percent up on 2015/16, of which wheat imports account for about 5 million tonnes. A larger increase in import requirements was limited by ample carryover stocks from the previous year’s above average harvest, European Union and Black Sea countries supply most of the common “soft” wheat, while Canada is the traditional supplier of “durum” wheat. In 2017/18, owing to a favourable domestic harvest, imports are foreseen to decline.

In May 2017, the Government announced the increase of the import duty on “soft” wheat from 30 percent to 135 percent. The customs duty will become effective upon publication in the official bulletin and will last until 31 December 2017. Morocco has traditionally used tariffs on wheat imports to protect local producers from foreign competition and revises the duties on a periodic basis depending on the supply/demand situation in the country. Due to excess milling capacity in Morocco, limited quantities of wheat flour are exported to neighbouring countries.

Food inflation remains moderate
In March 2017 (the last data available), the food inflation recorded a 1.8 percent decrease on a yearly basis. In 2016, food inflation ranged from 0 to 4 percent. In spite of the country’s high import dependency rate, the impact of the changes in international prices on domestic prices is mitigated by Government subsidies of more than 1 million tonnes of the “national flour”, a common wheat of standard quality used to make flour for the low income consumers. The Government covers the difference between the actual price and the guaranteed milling price. The “durum” wheat market is not regulated

Morocco: A ‘Darling Bud of May’, British Paper

By Amira El Masaiti - May 11, 2017 , Rabat

Expert travelers and beauty seekers have known for decades that Morocco, with its gorgeous landscapes and multicultural heritage, is an alluring and enlightening travel destination.  For those who didn’t know, the British newspaper Daily Express has mentioned Morocco in its list of “The darling buds of May”, urging travelers to pay the country a visit during the spring month.  The website says that the Kingdom is a perfect destination in the month of May, referring to a listing by Australian travel website Lonely Planet.

The Kingdom made it to the listing thanks to its “ideal temperature”, marvelous landscapes and flower festival. Daily Express reports that “Marrakech hovers in the high 20°C not too oppressive for wandering the souks; coastal Essaouira is a refreshing 20°C (68°F); and the Sahara is hot (30°C+; 86°F+) but more manageable than July to August (40°C+; 104°F+).”  The Daring Buds of May article invited travelers to explore the red city of Marrakech and its “grandmother” Taroudant before wandering into the Atlas Mountains.

It also made a special reference to the Valley of the Roses, at the High Atlas Mountains for being “particularly pretty during its mid-May flower festival.” In addition, it highlighted Mount Toubkal which, reaching 13,671 feet high, offers an adventurous hikes for adrenaline junkies and promises an unforgettable experience to whoever visits it.

For family excursions, Daily Express turned to the mountain village of Imlil, saying that it is “a good base for shorter, family-friendly excursions into Berber country,” adding that the village could be reached though various roads, while mules could be hired to carry baggage and even lift children. The valleys of Morocco are “vibrantly green,” enjoying warm sunshine and lovely temperature, abd though they get a bit chilly at night, they remain a perfect destination for hikers.

André Azoulay: Morocco a ‘Haven of Coexistence’

By Chaima Lahsini - May 12, 2017 , Rabat

André Azoulay, senior advisor to King Mohammed VI, praised Morocco as a model for cultural and religious pluralism at an awards ceremony in New York on Thursday. “Thanks to the visionary and dynamic leadership of King Mohammed VI, Morocco has become a haven of coexistence and cultural resilience, deeply rooted in the values of modernity and humanism that distinguish the Moroccan model in today’s world,” said Larbi Rmiki, Head of Public Diplomacy at the Moroccan Embassy in the United States, speaking on behalf of Azoulay, who could not attend the ceremony.

Azoulay was awarded the World-Recognized Sephardic Jewish Leader Prize by the Foundation for Preserving the Visual History of the Jewish People for his work to bridge religious divides through arts and cultural collaborations. “I am deeply grateful to the Foundation for the work you are doing in preserving Jewish history around the world and I am especially honored that you have dedicated a memorable moment to my country.”

In his speech, Azoulay payed a heartwarming tribute to his childhood city, Essaouira, “a city that has been, throughout the centuries, a living and dynamic center of Jewish life, so much that at one point in history it was able to welcome in its fold a majority Jewish citizens.”

In front of a large audience that came to celebrate the universality of the Moroccan model and understand the proximity and conviviality between Islam and Judaism in the Kingdom, Azoulay added that he has always felt that Essaouira is “a microcosm of Morocco, a land rich in the depth of its diversity where Islam and Judaism have mutually nourished and cultivated each other.” He stressed that “since my childhood I have learned that the preservation of Judaism in Morocco is a matter of dignity and justice honored by all Moroccans.”

The King’s councilor also touched on the long-standing religious conflicts plaguing the Middle East, saying that through his “long search for a just peace in the region in the early 1970s when I founded the group “Identity and Dialogue” in Paris, he spent the following decades demonstrating that “Islamic and Jewish cultures were not opposed, but rather interdependent and complementary.”
“As part of my work with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and as President of the Anna Lindh Foundation,” said the royal advisor, “I have striven to tell the world that my Moroccan Jewish culture and identity have been nourished at the heart of the the Arab-Muslim world and would thus be reduced without the Muslim dimension, to the same extent that the Moroccan civilization would be incomplete without the enriching influence of Judaism.”

He added that he “was fortunate enough to put my hometown, Essaouira-Mogador, on the map of the world as a Mediterranean flagship of intercultural dialogue and a resilient city where everything related to human culture and the spiritual exchanges between Islam and Judaism converge.” “It is fascinating,” he concluded, “that this singularity of the Moroccan model, in the land of Islam, continues to show the way to the rest of the world.”

The award ceremony was marked by the presence of several members of the diplomatic corps at the United Nations and Washington, as well as an array of personalities representing the worlds of business, arts and media. The event was also attended by the former US Ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg, and the former Under-Secretary of State for the Treasury, Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat.

F-FCS Skype Club talks with teacher in Morocco

Recorder News | May 11, 2017 Morgan Frisch/Recorder staff Recorder News Staff FONDA

Fonda-Fultonville High School students have traveled to Sweden, Alaska and the United Kingdom without ever stepping foot on an airplane. The newly established Skype Club has given students the opportunity to learn about other cultures and chat with people from other countries. One of the main goals is to help students develop an awareness of globalization and how the world is interconnected.

On Tuesday, the students took a trip to Morocco. While the club is offered to juniors at the high school, several middle school students on Tuesday were invited to join in on the Skype Club’s conversation with teacher Pawsansoe Karen Bree, who was at the U.S. Peace Corps Worldwide School in Tinejdad, Morocco. Bree told students her story, starting from when she fled the State of Burma at six years old to live at a refugee camp in Thailand for 13 years. She described her lack of freedom and citizenship and a brief time where she was separated from her family.
“There was a fence around the camp,” she said. “Anyone caught outside the camp was sent back to Burma.”

Bree ended up moving to the United States in 2008 where she enrolled in an intensive English as a New Language class in Utica with Fonda-Fultonville teacher Amy Lumbrazo. She told students how her father didn’t want her to come to America, but she really wanted an education. “I told him I wanted to be something bigger than just sitting in a refugee camp,” she said. “I wanted my dreams to come true.”

Now, Bree has received her bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College and a master’s from Webster’s University Abroad. She is enrolled in the Peace Corps in Morocco, teaching students who will Skype with Fonda-Fultonville club members and middle school students this week. During Tuesday’s first Skype with Bree, student’s asked questions about her family, future goals and the culture of Morocco.

The club stemmed from Sean Thompson’s 11th grade College American History class. The district’s exchange student, Lovisa Herfindal, who is in Thompson’s class, suggested having a Skype session with her classmates at Campeon High School in Helsingborg, Sweden. The Swedish students were very interested in the American presidential election so they held the session on Election Day when the Campeon high-schoolers were having an election night party monitoring the results.

The Fonda-Fultonville students chatted politics and at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, when results started to be reported. It was 2 a.m. in Sweden. Thompson said the first experience was such a rich conversation and the students were really excited. “It was good for our kids,” he said. “ It made them realize that they are not so different, but very similar.”

After the success of the first Skype, Thompson teamed up with Danielle Knabe, the district’s education technology specialist and started researching the internet to find high schools in other countries that may be interested in holding a teleconference. Skype Club is currently offered to juniors and the students meet approximately two Wednesdays per month. There are about 32 students who participate, but the advisors are hopeful to expand the club next school year.

Mackenzie Christman, a junior, said she joined the club to get more of a cultural experience. “You don’t get that type of opportunity,” she said, explaining how the Skype sessions help to break through different stereotypes. Knabe said each Skype session is different. While in this particular event, Bree did a majority of the talking, sometimes the Fonda-Fultonville students speak and the people on the other end ask them questions. High School Principal Aaron Grady attended Tuesday’s session. “It exposes kids to the realities of the rest of the world,” he said, after hearing Bree’s story.

The students have chatted with students from Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska and Christleton High School in Chester, England, United Kingdom. Thompson said they learned about the football team in Alaska taking a plane to their games and what students in England really think of the queen. Fonda-Fultonville was accepted as a member of the Tony Blair Foundation, which is a non-profit group dedicated to globalization. This will provide opportunities for next year’s club. “It broadens their horizons a little and opens up the world to them,” Thompson said.

Morocco beckons to Jewish tourists

By SARAH LEVI May 7, 2017

Jews had a large role and a rich past in the kingdom, but visiting the sites can be a bittersweet experience. The kingdom of Morocco doesn’t need help convincing visitors that it has been around for a while.

The four royal cities – Casablanca, Rabat, Fez and Marrakech – are bustling, mixing a unique contemporary urban sprawl with their walled-off medinas (old cities) complete with their own take on the classic market or souk. While the periphery is rugged and dramatic, with the snow-capped Rif mountains in the north and Atlas mountains in the center fortifying the country, the Sahara in the south conjures up images of a vast desert with camels and nomads dotted throughout the landscape. The picturesque coastline stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Strait of Gibraltar, where the country is a close neighbor of Spain.

It is here that the kingdom performs a delicate dance of maintaining a definitive identity, meshing European, Berber and Arab people and traditions to create an intricate mosaic of cultures, traditions and languages throughout this North African kingdom.

The sovereign legitimacy of the nation is based on the belief that the royal family is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, thus creating a strong nationalist and religious loyalty to their king and country for centuries, as their kingdom’s motto states: “God, homeland, king.” The king, Mohammed VI, is highly revered among citizens and has made a number of important changes to improve the overall infrastructure and economy of the kingdom while preserving the national identity and customs of this vibrant land.

Visiting Morocco is like stepping back into a time where items we take for granted as being mass-produced somewhere east of us are handmade by artisans whose skills have been passed down through the generations. The smells of grilled lamb, fresh olives and a rainbow of spices permeate the cityscape. The vast open landscape is green and lush, with rolling hills full of olive and argan trees. Djellaba-clad men and women can be found off in the distance shepherding herds of goats and sheep.

And the tea, so much tea...

In the cities, medinas are packed with merchants and artisans hawking everything from colorful leather shoes to handmade brassware. Connecting these shops and homes are narrow passageways that are often unyielding to large tour groups, which are often forced to hug the ancient stone walls in order to make way for men yelling “balak, balak! [get out of the way]” with donkeys carrying various items through the maze of winding streets and alleyways.

Moroccan Jews share a proud and colorful history with rituals and cuisine unique to their roots. It was especially interesting to visit the source of these traditions and to witness such a large piece of Jewish history. CONTRARY TO the assumption that the Jews of Morocco are all of Sephardi origin, Moroccan Jewry, much like Morocco itself, has a varied and layered past. Starting from the destruction of the Second Temple, exiled Jews sought refuge in Morocco, where they lived among – and possibly intermarried with – the indigenous Berbers. A second wave of Jews came to Morocco around 200 CE, primarily from Greece. Jewish merchants set up shop and communities along the coast in cities such as Casablanca, Rabat and Essaouria.

The next wave occurred during the seventh century during the Islamic invasion, shortly after the death of Muhammad in 622. It wasn’t until nearly a thousand years later that the exiled Spanish and Portuguese Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition in the late 1400s began pouring into the country.

From that point on, the traditions and practices of all four waves of these Jews meshed not only with each other but with the land they inhabited. Their artisanship, architecture, cuisine and style of dress are noticeably indicative of Moroccan culture.

Warding off the evil eye is something that was picked up and has been adopted into the culture; this is not unique to Jews but is found among many of those who inhabit the kingdom. In addition, people pay homage to their tzadikim in the form of “hilulas” or prayer festivals that take place annually in cemeteries all over Morocco. Thousands of Moroccan Jews, mostly from Israel but also from Canada, France and Morocco come on the anniversary of their tzadik’s death and joyfully pay their respects through lively meals, prayer and psalm readings near their graves.

While European Jews were typically found in shtetls and praying at a shul, Moroccan Jews lived in the mellah and prayed at their local sla’ats. To be clear, mellahs were not a means to exile the Jews and they were not considered ghettos; on the contrary, they were to safeguard the Jews during times of instability. These mellahs (literally salt marshes) were established shortly after the Sephardi Jews arrived in Morocco, and can be found in all four royal cities as well as cities like Sale, Essaouira and Meknes.

Jews of Morocco have historically enjoyed a relatively quiet and prosperous coexistence with their Muslim neighbors. However, we cannot ignore the fact that they were always considered second-class citizens within the kingdom. Their overall safety and quality of life were often not affected by this lower status and many will recall friendly, almost family-like, relationships between one another.

At its peak, there were over 250,000 Jews in Morocco, but following the establishment of the State of Israel, those numbers dropped dramatically to around 3,000. A majority of those remaining resided in the seaside city of Casablanca; around 1,000 Jews still live there today. Casablanca holds the largest Jewish community in the Arab world and has the only Jewish museum in the Arab world. Guests can glimpse historical Moroccan Jewry – including clothing, old photographs, ritual paraphernalia and even a small synagogue on display. The only thing missing is a gift shop.

The city also boasts more than 30 synagogues, a handful of kosher restaurants, Jewish schools, community centers and a Jewish cemetery outside the no-longer-inhabited mellah. The rest of what remains of Jewish life in Morocco is scattered throughout the country, mainly tucked away in the somewhat deserted mellahs in the cities. The remains of this dwindling community are a bittersweet lingering of times past.

However, as the Jewish population shrinks in Morocco, there has been a recent effort in reviving these places throughout the country, as an increasing number of organized tours of mostly Diaspora and Israeli Jews, as well as Moroccan Jews taking a family roots trip are coming to visit and learn.

One of these places is the Sla’at Alazama in Marrakesh. Hidden behind an unassuming blue door in the mellah is the oldest active synagogue in the city. Upon entering, an impressive blue and white courtyard leads guests into the decorative sanctuary that is a popular spot for tour groups and bar mitzvas.

To keep up with this surge of tourism, artisans and merchants inside the medinas are ready to offer Jewish tourists an array of Moroccan Judaica, both old and new. In the bustling medina of Fez, one can purchase hanukkiot, mezuza cases, old Torah scrolls, dishes with intricately painted stars of David and even old dowry chests for young Sephardi brides. (“Free shipping! We take cash, euro, dirham, whatever you want”). Also in Fez’s medina, tourists can take a peek at Maimonides’s former dwelling place, which also serves as a cafe, adjacent to the famous water clock.

Visiting Jewish sites in Morocco, like the dozens of synagogues and cemeteries scattered throughout major cities and outskirts can evoke mixed emotions. On the one hand, it is amazing to see relics of our shared past intact and open to the public. On the other hand, they are just that, relics from the past. Despite all of this, the Moroccan Jewish community is convinced that a revival is coming and Jews of Moroccan descent will in fact return to the land of their ancestors and bring life to these relics.

Moroccan cleric defies taboo on women’s inheritance

Morocco: A former radical preacher is the unlikely instigator of a debate on a topic long seen as off-limits in Muslim-majority Morocco: women’s inheritance rights. The country’s Islamic family laws allocate female heirs half the amount men receive on the death of a relative.

Abdelwahab Rafiki, a former hard-line cleric who served time in jail following jihadist bombings in Casablanca, says it is time that changed. “I invite... religious scholars, sociologists and human rights actors to open a dialogue, primarily in order to uphold justice,” he said. Rafiki, also known as Abou Hafs, was one of around 100 male writers, journalists and artists who published a book in April called “Men defend equality in inheritance.” He also appeared on a prime-time television show on the popular 2M channel, arguing that the social roles of men and women had changed since the early days of Islam, meaning it was time for a debate on inheritance rules.

Since his TV appearance, he said, “I have been threatened with death and excommunicated, but I also received many messages of support.” The 43-year-old was once regarded as a leader of the Salafist-jihadist movement in Morocco. He was among 8,000 people arrested after jihadist bombings in Casablanca in 2003 killed 45 people.

Death threats
Sentenced to 30 years in prison, he was pardoned in 2012. Last year he stood for election to parliament representing Istiqlal, a conservative nationalist party. His efforts to spark a debate on inheritance have won him plaudits from the liberal media and condemnation from his former peers. “Thanks to 2M and Abou Hafs, a new step has been taken in Morocco: equality between men and women in matters of inheritance can now be raised in the public sphere,” local site Medias 24 said.

Weekly magazine TelQuel said he had begun “dismantling one by one the dogmas of radical Islam.” But Abou Hafs has also received anonymous death threats on social media and been expelled from a national organization for religious scholars. He has been denounced by the likes of Mohamed Fizazi and Hassan Kettani, preachers who were also jailed and later pardoned after the Casablanca attacks. “He didn’t just turn his coat inside out, he tore it up,” Fizazi said. Kettani said inheritance rules were not just a “red line” but an “impassable wall.” Islamic scholars argue that the Qur'an allocates women half the inheritance given to male heirs because men are responsible for protecting women and providing for them.

Correcting injustice
They say the rules were a major improvement on women’s rights in pre-Islamic Arabia. But Abou Hafs argues that the issue is open to “ijtihad” — the process of interpretation by religious scholars.
“The issue of inheritance must be consistent with evolutions in society” in order to “protect” Islam, he told AFP. It is not the first time the subject has triggered controversy. In 2015 Morocco’s official National Council of Human Rights (CNDH) called for women to be guaranteed the same inheritance rights as men, arguing that “unequal inheritance legislation” made women more vulnerable to poverty.

Outraged conservatives rejected any debate on the issue and the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) slammed the organization for its “irresponsible recommendation.” But Nouzha Skalli, a former women’s rights minister, said the lines are moving. “Until recently, the question was taboo — you couldn’t even debate the subject,” she said. “As soon as you said the word ‘inheritance’ you were accused of blasphemy. Today, the debate can be held openly.” “The time has come to break the taboo, which hides major injustices against women,” she said. “The Qur'an says that God is against injustice.”

French Renaudot Prize Selects Moroccan Authors Abdelah Taia and Mahi Binebine

By Amira El Masaiti - May 11, 2017 , Rabat

French literary award, the Renaudot Prize, has favored the literary works of two Moroccan authors, namely Abdelah Taia and Mahi Binebine, in its selection of nine novels and seven essays for this spring’s prize. The Renaudot Prize has announced its spring selection, featuring 16 novelists. From this group, Morocco’s own Abdelah Taia and Mahi Binebine have been selected as authors of outstanding original novels.

Novelist and filmmaker, Abdellah Taïa, was honored for his novel, “The One Who Is Worthy of Love,” (Celui qui est digne d’être aimé). The novel narrates the story of a 40-year-old Moroccan resident of France, who wrote to his dead mother confessing his homosexuality to her, seeking closure. Moroccan painter and novelist, Mahi Binebine, was singled out for his novel “The Fool of the King.” Inspired by the his own father and brother, the novel delves into a narrative about Binebine’s father who was King Hassan II’s jester, and his brother who took part in the Skhirat coup d’état, which killed one hundred people. Mahi Binebine recounts how his father, loyal to the king, had to deny his son.

Nine novels and seven essays were chosen for the spring selection. The jury will also add other renowned names to the selection on September4, before the final presentation of the winners, on a date yet to be announced. The 2016 Renaudot prize was awarded to French author, Yasmina Reza, for her novel “Babylon.”

First established in 1925 by ten French art critics, the Renaudot prize was first awarded in 1926. Like the Goncourt prize, the Renaudot prize is awarded annually at a ceremony in a Parisian restaurant.

“Magician of Maghreb” by Waone in Rabat, Morocco

StreetArtNews May 12, 2017

Waone just sent us some images from this amazing piece of work that he just wrapped up on the streets of Rabat in Morocco for the Jidar Street Art Festival. The Ukrainian artist painted a berber, sitting in most common “oriental pose”, in his classic bright indigo djellaba, and doing some magic ritual with music, maghrebi mint tea and dancing dervish (which represents a nomadic sufi, who brought Islam to that region). Witchcraft and shamanism are enormously developed in Morocco, as says internet. Unfortunately Waone didn’t seen any wizards in “the all Maghrebi Magician`s and Sorcerer`s capital” Marrakesh (He saw one in Rabat).  Although you can find all the ingredients for the magic rituals on every market.

Waone was impressed by the history and culture of indigenous white people of the Northern Africa. Unbelievable, according to different sources their history stretching back up to 11 thousands years.  They had preserved their culture essentially unchanged despite the conquests of Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. When he saw their modern alphabet, it reminded him some cosmic hieroglyphs or prehistoric petroglyphs that he saw in the museum of Vatican.

The artist would like to thanks to Salah and all the team of JIDAR – Toiles de Rue for such a professionally organized process and a special thanks to his assistant Sara

The most interesting sights of Morocco. Photo

By paradox

Morocco is one of the oldest countries in Africa. It is on the Moroccan coast, in the heart of Casablanca, was discovered the first traces of human presence in North Africa. On the Mediterranean coast of Morocco established their trading colony of the Phoenicians, and then settled here the Carthaginians.

After the defeat by the Romans of the Carthaginian Empire in the second century BC the country was divided into 2 provinces. Subsequently, the territory of Morocco was included in the Arab Caliphate. The conquered population was converted to Islam. The country began to spread the Arabic language. Yusuf Ben Tachfin built the city walls of Marrakech. From there he went to conquer the North of Morocco, and then the South of Spain.
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Blue city of Chefchaouen. The city is so amazing with its architecture and color that it is time to make a mural on a wall somewhere in Uwalls, downloading them is a wonderful photo. Typically, the photo order and create with beautiful towns such as Chefchaouen.

The largest city of Morocco: Tetouan, Rabat, Meknes, Marrakech, Casablanca. In Tetouan you can visit the archaeological Museum in Rabat – the Museum of antiquities, the Museum of Moroccan arts, a 55-metre minaret of the XII century (Hassan tower), the remains of the mosque of Yacoub al-Mansour (XII century). Main sights of Meknes are the Sultan’s Palace with the garden, triple walls, a large market. In Casablanca, tourists will be interesting to see the Big mosque Hassan II, FEZ, the mosque of Moulay Idriss (IX century), one of the most protected shrines in Safi – the ruins of the Sultan’s castle of the XVI century, in Marrakech you can see the Sultan’s Palace with gardens, fortifications, tombs of the Sultan’s family, the Koutoubia mosque (XII century).
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Morocco- Where Does Technology Stand in Moroccan Exports?

MENAFN - Morocco World News - 11/05/2017) Rabat

Low- and medium-high technology products make up 80 percent of Moroccan manufacturing exports, says the Directorate of Financial Studies and Forecasting (DEPF), based on statistics produced over the past 15 years. Technological development is being seen as a key factor in improving a country's productivity, competitiveness, and growth. Since the 1980s, the increase in technological innovations, along with the influx of new entrants into world markets, has exacerbated competition between economies. From now on, the position of any country in the world economy depends on its capacity to innovate and invent.

Faced with this new global economic environment, #Morocco has embarked on a process of structural transformation in order to support its technological competitiveness, implementing appropriate sectoral policies and promoting of internationally oriented professions. These ambitious sectoral strategies have reinforced the emergence of growth-oriented businesses which, moreover, have contributed significantly to the modernization of the national industrial fabric and to the strengthening of the technological content of its exports.

According to the DEFP, the technological content of Moroccan manufacturing exports has improved considerably over the last fifteen years, following their structural transformation. "The share of the former has fallen by 22.4 percent to 37 percent in 2015, against 59.5 percent in 2000, in favor of the share of medium-high-tech second-hand which increased, continuously over the period by 28 percent, reaching 46.2 percent at the end of 2015, compared with 18.2 percent in 2000," noted the DEPF in a recent publication on "The technological content of Morocco's manufacturing exports: evolution and comparative analysis."

According to the DEPF, which operates under the Ministry of #Economy and Finance, the share of manufactured products with medum-high technology has increased from 23 percent on average over the period 2000-2007 to 40.7 percent over the 2008-2015 period, thus exceeding the world average which is establish at 34.4 percent. This change was mainly due to the increase in the share of phosphate exports, from 11 percent of Morocco's total exports to 17 percent between the two periods, as well as that of vehicles from 0 to 5 percent and electric appliances equipment from 6 to 11 percent, explained the DEPF, noting that Morocco's market share of medium-high-tech products has doubled from 0.08 to 0.16 percent.

In the case of exports of high-tech manufactured goods, the share of imports declined from an average of 10.2 percent between 2000 and 2007 to 6.1 percent in the second period, compared with 24.9 percent and 22.4 percent worldwide. However, the DEPF asserted that, despite a downward trend, the share of low-tech products remained high, standing at around 41.3 percent on average between 2008 and 2015, compared with 16 percent at the global level.

This decline, the publication explains, is attributed to a 20 percent decline in the manufactured clothing sector of total Moroccan exports on average over the period 2000-2007, to 11 percent on average over the period 2008-2015. For medium- and low-technology products, consisting mainly of residual petroleum products and miscellaneous iron and steel products, their share remained relatively low compared to the world average, with only 11.9 percent compared with 27.2 percent at the global level between 2008 and 2015.

The DEPF reports concludes by noting that exports from the manufacturing sector account for 64.4 percent of the total Moroccan exports. In 2015, this sector generated an added value of more than MAD 154 billion at current prices, which constitutes more than 15.7 percent of the GDP.

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