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Morocco Week in Review 
May 11, 2019

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Writing the High Atlas: Immortalizing a Place

May 1, 2019 | #MedStoryPrize

When Barb Mackraz from the Morocco Library Project first told me about the competition that Rooted Everyday Mediterranean short story was about to launch, I agreed to be part of the project without hesitation because it touches me a lot, and I believe that writing is an amazing tool to change the world. Today, I want to talk about how writing can change the world in the area of the high Atlas in Morocco.

Official: Morocco’s Education System Produces ‘Jobless Generation’

The government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi blames it on the current education system for producing a “jobless generation.”

By- Mohammed Amine Benabou is a BA holder in English Studies and an MA student majoring in Cultural Studies and Linguistics at the English Department, Ibn-Tofail University. May 7, 2019 Rabat

The spokesman to the Moroccan government, Mustapha El Khalfi, said in a meeting held in Fez on Sunday, May 5, 2019, that he blames the current educational programs for producing what he called a “jobless generation.” El Khalfi stated, “The education system is facing enormous challenges and turmoil, for which the government is severely criticized.” Speaking of some of the challenges, El Khalfi stated that the number of children who drop out of school stands at 270,000 every year, compelling the government to implement the program called Tayssir (Arabic for “facilitation”) to target families in the rural areas to help parents financially to enroll their children in primary school.

Interfaith Music in Morocco: Sacred or Profane?

During Pope Francis’ recent visit to Morocco, a stunning interfaith musical medley performed for the pontiff and Morocco’s king sparked controversy.

Sebastian Bouknight May 4, 2019

Pope Francis visited Morocco at the end of March, his first visit to the Maghreb and the first papal visit to the kingdom since 1985. King Mohammed VI, who had invited the pontiff, sat next to his fellow religious leader at a welcoming event in Rabat. Speaking to a rain-soaked public, they delivered a shared message, espousing “interfaith dialogue, mutual understanding between the faithful of the two religions . . . [and] values of peace and tolerance.” Several hours later, an arrangement of music reflecting passages from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions performed for the two leaders and a packed lecture hall stirred up a debate that highlighted the complexity of putting that message into musical practice.

Moroccan Woman Pioneer Creates Social Enterprise to Empower Rural Women

Manal Elattir, founder of Morocco-based social enterprise ASILA, is using traditional handicrafts and fashion to promote women’s empowerment, ethical fashion, and sustainable development in the North African country.

By Soukaina Rachidi April 20, 2019

Women in Morocco are fearless social warriors and economic leaders, and Manal Elattir, the founder of ASILA, wants more people to know it. “ASILA” (“authentic” in Arabic) is a social enterprise that nurtures the leadership potential of Moroccan women and girls and encourages them to create positive change in their communities. For over a decade, Elattir has championed sustainable growth, as well as youth and women empowerment in Morocco. However, her passion for advocacy was ignited in a different context.  

The Spark that Ignited the Fire

Elattir was born in Agadir, in the south of Morocco. At age 13, her family moved to the capital, Rabat. Elattir’s father loved the U.S. educational system, having completed his doctorate at the University of Minnesota. He dreamed that his daughter would move to the U.S. to pursue an education and a professional career. So, at the age of 16, he sent Elattir to Minnesota to live with an American host family until she finished high school.

A Visit to Marrakech’s Contemporary African Art Museum with President Othman Lazraq

"I’m not a militant, I’m not an activist, I’m just engaged. And I’m pretty sure that’s the only, only, only way for Morocco and for Africa to become a hub and to attract people–not only for the belly-dancers but for the culture."

By Sarah Goodman March 30, 2019

The outside world often classifies Morocco by identifiers such as “Arab” or “Mediterranean.” In other contexts, Morocco may be used as an exemplar of a Muslim-majority nation. However, in 2017, Morocco rejoined the African Union after a 33-year absence. As Morocco begins to play a bigger role in pan-African politics, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) represents another example of an internal alignment of Moroccan and African aims. MACAAL is notable for firmly positioning Morocco as an African nation and placing Moroccan artists within the panoply of African art.

Fairuz and the Rahbani Brothers: Musical Legends Who Shaped Modern Lebanese Identity

Lebanese musical icons Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers, Assi and Mansour, are credited with revolutionizing modern Arab music. They are also renowned for using their artistic voices to champion social and political causes in Lebanon and the wider Arab world.

By Soukaina Rachidi March 24, 2019

“Ambassador to the Stars” and “the Moon’s Neighbor” are just some of the many titles used to describe legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz. During her prolific career with Assi and Mansour Rahbani, it is estimated that the trio produced over 100 albums and 1,700 songs. To understand their impact on Lebanon, it is important to understand the history and geography of their homeland. Lebanon, with a population of just over six million people, is an Eastern Mediterranean country that shares its borders with Syria in the north and east, and Israel in the south. Throughout its history, Lebanon was invaded and ruled by various powers including the Muslims, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans, and French. Such invasions resulted in a wealth of social and religious diversity, but they have also been a source of conflict throughout Lebanese history. That is the unique context that shaped the epic musical careers of Fairuz and the Rahbani brothers.

When Bigotry and Intolerance Reigned: The Expulsion of Moriscos from Renaissance Spain

Muslim Moriscos converted to Christianity under duress, faced racial discrimination and systematic marginalization by mainstream Catholic Spaniards in Renaissance Spain. They were eventually exiled from their Iberian homeland, but their legacy remains.

By Youssef El Kaidi October 14, 2018

Etymologically speaking, the word “Morisco” is derived from the word “Moor” or “Moorish,” which refers to the Muslim inhabitants of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. The term “Morisco,” however, was a designation given to Muslim converts to Christianity in Medieval Spain. Moriscos, thus, were a racial and cultural minority within mainstream Spanish Catholic society. Despite having converted to Christianity, Moriscos continued to embrace their racial and cultural identities through various deep-rooted cultural practices. The reproduction and perpetuation of their cultural traditions, however, was seen as a threat by the Catholic authorities, who accused them of maintaining loyalty to the Muslims of North Africa and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. King Philip III decided to expel them from Spain on September 22, 1609, decreeing that “all Moriscos be taken from this kingdom and be expelled to Barbary [North Africa].” The Morisco population set out in search of safety and shelter by taking routes that took them as far as North Africa, France, Turkey, and even colonial Latin America

“Second Wave” of Arab Spring Protests Revives Dream of Liberty for Arab People

The persistence of peaceful mass demonstrations in Algeria and Sudan appear to be bearing fruit in a region desperate for change.

By Youssef Igrouane and  Helal Aljamra May 3, 2019

The ongoing protests in Algeria and Sudan show that, despite the mostly negative outcomes of the so-called Arab Spring of 2011, people across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are continuing their fight for freedom from autocracy. The 2019 protests differ from those in 2011 in several respects and may yet end with more promising results. The ensuing question is whether their possible success could pose a threat to the stable monarchies in the region. In what some are calling a second wave of the Arab Spring, Algeria and Sudan have experienced consistent mass demonstrations in recent months, both resulting in the ouster of long time leaders. That the protests have not yet abated indicates that radical change remains a priority for the people even as authoritarianism continues to prevail across the Arab world.  Popular protests against President Omar al-Bashir’s repressive regime in Sudan began in December 2018 and have continued since. The pressure eventually put an end to al-Bashir’s 30-year rule on April 11, and unseated two of his senior leaders, Defense Minister Awad bin Auf and intelligence chief Salah Gosh. A military council took over the transitional rule of the country, but demonstrators continue to call for a civilian-led transition.

Jews and Islamophobia

By Josh Marshall May 6, 2019

I don’t find this terribly surprising. But it is a highly notable, really key part of the broader debate about how the right-wing uses and distorts the debate over anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and religious diversity in the United States. The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding has a new public opinion report out on Islamophobia and Americans’ attitudes toward Muslims. The report covers a lot of ground and includes an easily accessible range of charts that makes it easy to dip into. I recommend it to you. What I want to focus on is one key finding: of all religious or ethnic groups in America, Jews have by far the most positive attitudes toward Muslims. Equally striking: by far the most negative attitudes toward Muslims are held by white evangelicals. ….

Meet Morocco’s First Female Mountain Guide.

Hafida Hdoubane, Morocco’s first female mountain guide, is leading the way to gender equality in Morocco’s tourism industry.

By - Katya Schwenk is an intern at Morocco World News. May 6, 2019 Rabat

Twenty-five years ago, there were no certified female mountain guides in Morocco. In 1994, Marrakech-born mountaineer Hafida Hdoubane changed that when she became the first woman to receive an official mountain guide license. Hdoubane has since found spectacular success in Morocco’s mountain trekking industry. She has her own tour company and leads mountain treks and cultural exchanges with international touring companies Intrepid Travel and Peak DMC. Yet men dominate the tour guide industry in Morocco (making up 97% of guides, according to Zina Bencheikh, the manager of Peak DMC Marrakech). At the hands of Moroccan women, that landscape is starting to change.

The Challenges of Morocco’s Many Languages Lead to Academic Debate.

The Moroccan language debate over Darija, Amazigh, Arabic, French, and English asks which ones should be prioritized for new generations of Moroccan students. Morgan Reisinger is a soon-to-be-graduated history and international studies dual major at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts. May 5, 2019 Worcester, Massachusetts

During an informative lecture in Morocco in November 2016, respected Kuwaiti businessman and scholar Tareq Al-Suwaidan became frustrated when he found only French instructions as he tried to set up his microphone. He condemned the language for its uselessness in the contemporary world and insisted that Moroccans quickly make English a priority. Al-Suwaidan argued that English is the language of science, tourism, civilization, business, and more. This engaging display of dissatisfaction resurfaced a 60-year-old debate among Moroccan society: Should the country embrace English as its second language instead of French?

Morocco to host Fes Festival of World Sacred Music

On June 14-22, spiritual notes at UNESCO medina. 

07 May, 2019 RABAT

Music as a bridge between populations and a universal language will be at the center of the 'Festival des Musiques Sacrées du Monde' scheduled in Fes on June 14-22. Squares and palaces will open their doors to the festival, whose title is 'Fes, convergence of cultures'. The event that has been organized for a quarter of a century focuses on the theme of integration. Selected since 2001 by the United Nations as an event contributing significantly to dialogue among cultures, the Festival of World Sacred Music welcomes artists from over 30 countries and musicians such as Sami Yusuf, who has been described as one of the greatest Sufi voices by Time Magazine.

Morocco to Host Program to Raise Awareness on Climate Change Impacts.

The Peace Boat program will come back to Morocco for the third consecutive year on May 28, in Tangier.

By Hamza Guessous - May 8, 2019 Rabat

Partnering with the UN SDG Action Campaign and the Moroccan NGO Atlas for Development and the Council of Young Leaders of Tangier, the program gives young people from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) the opportunity to travel abroad on a boat to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change. The initiative is part of the Ocean Ambassadors and Climate Change Program that will start on May 24, in Malta. The young leaders from the Pacific Ocean, who volunteered in climate change issues and the deterioration of the ocean, will tour the capital city of Malta, Valetta, passing by New York, Granada (Spain), Tangier (Morocco), Ponta Delgada (Portugal), and many other cities. #######################################

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