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Morocco Week in Review 
September 7, 2019

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Morocco and the Influence of American Media

The American media, a window on the civilization of America, has for years acted as a strong means of intercultural communication with the rest of the world. This difficult task however is fraught with a multitude of dangers and pitfalls, mainly: propaganda, distortion, brainwashing, exaggeration, fake news, and exoticism.

By Mohamed Chtatou - Dr. Aug 29, 2019 Rabat

However, the media, given the nature of the political system of this country, enjoys a tremendous amount of freedom and independence, and consequently, has more room for maneuvering and creativity. The image US media projects of the American society abroad undoubtedly has its ups and downs. On the one hand, it glorifies such American ideals as: freedom, democracy, equal opportunity, multiculturalism, and gender equality, and on the other, it disseminates distorted information that enhances the already existing stereotypes and misconceptions. 
This analysis aims at investigating ways in which the media affects, positively and negatively, the world at large, taking Morocco as an example. 

The  impact  of the American culture
Crossing physically from one culture into another can be a traumatic experience; the move is not only a difficult, but one also has to learn the focal language and its intricacies, adapt to the climate and, most importantly, understand the culture (known as the silent language) and the way of life of the target country. Storti, in a book entitled: The Art of Crossing Cultures, argues that:
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Jihad Bnimoussa: Providing Emotional Education to Morocco’s Youth

Jihad Bnimoussa’s “Inspiration Corporation” Brings Mental Health Support to Morocco’s Young People.

By Sonya Chechik - Sonya is a junior at the University of Wisconsin - Madison studying Journalism and Middle Eastern Studies and hopes her work at MWN will be an opportunity to learn about the region first-hand. Jul 21, 2019 Rabat

Jihad Bnimoussa, CEO of InspireCorp, a non-profit organization which aims to build psychological resilience and social and emotional skills amongst Morocco’s young people, welcomed me into her office, and apologized if she seemed tired.  Between recent travels – like participating in a UN ECOSOC Youth Forum in NYC and a Stanford Amends Fellowship in Tunis – along with keeping up with the daily grind of a new company, she was feeling a bit worn down.

If she hadn’t mentioned her exhaustion, I wouldn’t have noticed as she didn’t show it in the slightest.  She spoke enthusiastically about her work at InspireCorp and the current mental health services in the MENA region.  At just 25 years old, she conducted herself in a way that made her seem much older, and while someone with as much knowledge as she has could perhaps be condescending, Bnimoussa was the opposite.  
She was easy to talk to and after we had introduced ourselves and I had settled into the bright yellow couch in her office, she explained her long-standing draw to supporting young people as well as the ins and outs of the region’s current mental health resources.  Throughout the conversation, Bnimoussa’s passion for her work and desire to touch as many young people as she can was woven into everything she said……….
Continuous here:

Women in Morocco : An Appraisal of their Current Status

In recent years, Morocco has made great strides in creating a legal framework for the protection of women’s rights.

By Mohamed Chtatou -Dr. Aug 21, 2019 Rabat

These changes include the ratification of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) in 1993, the reformation of the Moudawwana in 2004, constitutional changes for gender equality in 2011, and as well as countless others. While women are guaranteed more rights in a legal sense, there has arguablybeen minimal progress within their day-to-day lives. Reasons for this disconnect are active resistance, lack of awareness, and the patriarchal stronghold within the country.

Changes to the family law, Moudouwwana
The changes to the Moudawwana in 2004 were extensive and progressive. Among the most significant were: raising the minimum age for marriage to 18, permitting a wife to divorce her husband for domestic violence, abandonment, abstinence, or not following a condition in their marriage contract. The changes also allowed spouses to inherit from each other. The reforms also changed the laws relating to men taking multiple wives, a husband can now only marry a second wife with approval from a judge (Human Rights Education Associates). The Moudawwana did not abolish the institution of polygamy but instead implemented a strict set of guidelines.

A judge is able to grant permission to those who want to marry another wife only after they present detailed documentation of their finances, valid,signed consent from their first wife or wives, and proof that all their wives will receive equal treatment. The reform has successfully reduced the number of polygamous marriages in Morocco. The abolishment of repudiation is an equally important change to the family code. A husband is no longer entitled to divorce his wife through repudiation and women are able to file for divorce for the reasons listed above.

The changes in 2011 to the constitution include Article 19 stating, “men and women have equal civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms” and “the state shall work towards the establishment of parity between men and women. Morocco’s parliament recently reealed a penal code that allowed rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victims. The change came two years after sixteen-year-old Amina al-Filali committed suicide after being forced, by her parents and a judge, to marry her rapist. Subsequently, Article 475 of the penal code became the subject of international debate and placed Morocco under intense scrutiny, forcing the country to make a change, albeit a particularly slow one. These changes are all significant strides for women’s rights in Morocco, but still leave much to be desired in terms of their implementation and reforms that were not made. ...

The Benefits of Books for Women Artisans of Morocco

August 23, 2019August 23, 2019 by Karen Brock

Women Artisans of Morocco author Susan Schaefer Davis shares some great examples of how our books and her tours are improving the lives of women artisans in Morocco. Thanks, Susan!

While working on my book on Moroccan artisans, it was obvious that the women I spoke with hoped that being in a book would increase sales of their products–and I hoped for the same thing. My main goal was to present the women and their work, but I thought increased sales would be a benefit they would feel directly. And I’m pleased to report that it has begun to happen.

The first instance was when Lisa, a young woman who read Women Artisans of Morocco and then came on a trip to meet the artisans, made an order. She loved the Fes embroidery, resembling counted cross stitch but exactly the same on both sides. And she loved the artisans, a group of women with mobility challenges who have worked together for twenty years and have a great esprit de corps. They call their co-op “The Persistent Ones” because they face and overcome many challenges in their situation.

Towards a New Social Contract: Morocco as an Example

By Lahcen Haddad - Lahcen Haddad is a Member of the Moroccan Parliament. Aug 27, 2019

The Social Contract from Hobbes to Rawls:

The concept refers to an implicit contract between members of society whereby, for example, citizens exchange one thing, such as freedom, for another, given by the State, such as security and safety. The concept represented an essential theoretical basis for understanding the origins of political governance. Some date the concept back to the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Al-Mawardi, Thomas Moore, Ibn Khaldoun, and others. The idea of a contract determining the nature of the relationship between the rulers and the ruled has preoccupied human thought since ancient times. 
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (“Social Contract”, Encyclopedia Britannica), what distinguishes Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau’s thought from others is “their attempt to justify and delimit political authority on the grounds of individual self-interest and rational consent.” This means that they tried to normalize “why and under what conditions government is useful and ought, therefore, to be accepted by all reasonable people as a voluntary obligation.”

But the three philosophers differ according to whether their goal is to justify the system of governance or to protect individuals (ibid.). Hobbes says that the primitive nature was cruel and chaotic, a state of permanent warfare; therefore, individuals agreed to appoint a tyrannical ruler who would take away their freedom but protect them from chaos and war (Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil, 1651). Locke (in Two Treatises on Civil Government, 1690) argues that the nature of things requires the preservation of natural rights against insecurity.

Imilchil Wedding Festival: An Ancient Commemoration of Love and Tragedy

The festival is born from a tragic legend passed down through generations, the Amazigh equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.

By Juliette Owen-Jones - Juliette Owen-Jones is a journalist and editor at Morocco World News. Aug 29, 2019 Rabat

Every year in Imilchil, a small town in the Atlas Mountains, up to 40 couples convene to tie the knot as part of a long-running tradition known as the Imchil Marriage Festival. The festival is currently in full swing, running from August 23 to September 8. The festival is born from a Berber legend, the Amazigh equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. As with all folklore passed down verbally, the story is varied depending on who tells it – but the general legend is that two star crossed lovers from the Ait Hadiddou tribe in the region wanted to marry, but their family, sworn enemies, forbade them. 
Torn between their families’ wishes and their love for each other, the grief was so much that the couple cried themselves to death, and filled the two rivers in the region, now known as Isli (his) and Tislit (hers), with their tears.

Education Reform in Morocco

In most countries, the reform of the educational system has become a major priority.

By Moha Ennaji is an author and international consultant.Sep 4, 2019 Rabat

Surprisingly, the increase in the budgets of the ministries of education and reforms started over the past decade in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have not resulted in significant improvements in the quality of education, and the level of students remains uneven across countries and regions and within the same country. The quality of education in the region is a real challenge. Not all countries reach the international average in global assessments. The progress made will be insufficient to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely to attain quality education and reduce poverty and socio-economic inequalities. 
By international standards, the quality of educational systems in the MENA region is still relatively low, although governments spend far more than Singapore, one of the strongest countries that devote much less on the education budget than the Gulf area or other developed ountries…………………
More here:

In Morocco, 44 hours of lingering in a small village leaves a big impression.

By David Brown August 30 Washington Post

I had been feeling sick for a couple of days and was happy to be in a guesthouse with almost no guests in a village with only one paragraph in the travel guide. In front of me was a steaming bowl of pumpkin soup, sweet with onion and nutmeg, the perfect thing for a queasy stomach.
I’d had enough of destination travel. For the next couple of days, I thought to myself, I could stay right where I was — the town of Bhalil (pop. 12,000) in the Middle Atlas region of Morocco.

I had been visiting a friend who had an art residency in the northern city of Tetouan, but he was in a fit of creativity and had no time for sightseeing. I had rented a car, headed south, and visited Meknes, Volubilis and Fez for a week. Now, I was heading back, looking only for a place without much traffic. Lonely Planet called Bhalil a “curious village . . . worth a visit if you have your own transport.”…………………..
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Second Wave of Flooding Hits Southern Morocco

The southern regions of Morocco experienced widespread flooding in the last week.

By Yahia Hatim - Sep 2, 2019 Rabat

Videos uploaded on social media on the weekend of August 31 and September 1st show a river in Imlil, a town 66 kilometers far from Marrakech, has burst its banks. The ensuing flood in the city caused massive damage to property. One video shows the overflowing river,  carrying dirt and rocks  and destroying a bridge in the middle of Imlil. The cascade then damages cars parked on the side of the streets and building facades. People can be seen running for their lives away from the fast-moving flood water…………………..
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Arabic is now a must-learn language in China

Chinese university students see Arabic as a gateway to better career prospects

When Luo Zi Wei was deciding what language to study, Spanish was the most popular language course at her university and Arabic the least popular. But the week before she made her decision the Arabic lecturer gave a passionate speech listing the benefits of learning the language: good job prospects and the challenge of studying the hardest language in the world. Luo was persuaded. That was five years ago. Now she is part of a growing number of young Chinese who are choosing Arabic as the foreign language to study at university. According to Lin Feng Min, the director of the Arabic department at Peking University's language school, they have had to print 20 per cent more national test papers in the last three years, indicating a commensurate rise in the number studying Arabic. Ms Luo, 24, graduated in Arabic literature from Sun Yat-sen University, in Guangdong Province in 2016. She says the semester she spent in Jordan was revealing. "It's not so conservative. Teachers and Jordanians were open minded. Many Muslim women chose not to wear the hijab." However the Jordanians she met knew little about China. …………………
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Seven Top Tips for Climbing Morocco’s Highest Mountain

An easy to read guide to a successful hike to the summit of Mount Toubkal, the highest point in North Africa.

By Said Id Ahmad - Sep 1, 2019 Rabat

Mount Toubkal, at 4127 meters above sea level (ASL), is recognized as the highest peak of the Atlas Mountains. Its summit is also the highest point in North Africa.  The altitude is respectable, yet the mountain isn’t technically interesting for most professional climbers. Still, if your goal is to climb the world’s most prominent summits, you should add it to your bucket list! So let’s say you decide to climb Mount Toubkal. This means that in the near future you are going to take your body to a height of over 4000 metersASL, and in 99% of cases, this will be your first experience staying at such a height. Sounds exciting, right? …………..

Morocco 1st Maghreb Country in Tourism Competitiveness

“Morocco boasts the MENA region’s top TTCI scores on natural resources, North Africa’s best enabling environment, infrastructure, and tourist service infrastructure,” says the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019.

By Kawtar Ennaji - Kawtar Ennaji is a journalist and translator at Morocco World News, MA holder from King Fahd School of Translation
Sep 5, 2019 Rabat

The World Economic Forum has published its Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019. Morocco took 1st place in the Maghreb region and 2nd in North Africa. In the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) overall rankings, Morocco came 66th with a score of 3.9 exceeding the average in the MENA region, but barely over the global average. Spain, France, and Germany all took 1st place with a score of 5.4.

10 Most Delicious Moroccan Foods

We have all heard of Morocco’s famous couscous and tagines. But what else should be on your Moroccan food bucket list?

By Morgan Hekking - Aug 31, 2019 Rabat

While I was wrought with anxiety and homesickness on my flight to Morocco for my semester abroad, I cheered myself up by imagining all the delicious Moroccan foods I was about to have at my disposal.  I ignorantly assumed that Moroccan foods would resemble that of the Middle East. I was daydreaming about piles of falafel, hummus, tabouleh, fattoush, mana’eesh, and baba ghanoush. While all of these dishes are available in Morocco, the country has so much more to offer in terms of its own authentic cuisine. I won’t bore you by going over the varieties of couscous and tagines that are native to Morocco. They’re great, but their worldwide fame makes that discussion a bit redundant. Here are ten more Moroccan foods of varying popularity that you need to try during your visit–or make at home!

How to Make Moroccan Vegetable Couscous

The most quintessentially Moroccan dish, every true Moroccan cook knows how to whip up a delicious platter of couscous.

By Layla Dahamou - Sep 1, 2019 Rabat

Vegetable Couscous is prepared in most Moroccan households every Friday, to be eaten after Friday prayers. Families unite around the huge couscous dish once a week and enjoy the taste of tradition. While modern families enjoy couscous with a fork or spoon, some older Moroccans eat with their hands, rolling one-handed balls of couscous. A far cry from the dehydrated, just-add-water couscous of European supermarkets, Moroccan couscous is steamed as many as three times for a fluffy, moist texture. As with most traditional Moroccan recipes, the methods of preparation and ingredients differ from region to region, and from family to family. In the southeast of Morocco, Amazigh people prepare couscous with kale which is abundantly available in this region.

Preparing for Friday Couscous: Thursday Morning in the Souk

Regardless of which type of couscous being prepared for Friday’s traditional meal, gathering the ingredients is a universal Moroccan experience requiring patience, bargaining skills, and a sturdy bag.

By Morgan Hekking - Aug 24, 2019 Rabat

Shortly before 5:30 am on a Thursday morning, Mohammed and Jamila Bakkari are woken by the call to prayer coming from the large mosque across the street from their Temara apartment.  After praying, the couple will either go back to sleep, get ready for the day, or go for a run with their friends. Today, they go back to sleep.  At 9 am, they wake up a second time. Mohammed showers and helps his wife prepare breakfast. They eat together and leave a portion for their youngest son, who is still sound asleep, before driving to Rabat with large reusable bags in tow. It’s time to do some shopping for tomorrow’s couscous.

How to Make Moroccan Amlou, Mixture of Argan Oil, Honey, Almonds

The perfect combination of argan oil , ground almonds and honey is an ideal accompaniment to baghrir, bread, or anything you choose. Better than Nutella, or peanut butter, Amlou is a must for every kitchen.

By Layla Dahamou - Aug 18, 2019 Rabat

The perfect combination of argan oil , ground almonds and honey is an ideal accompaniment to baghrir, bread, or anything you choose. Better than Nutella, or peanut butter, Amlou is a must for every kitchen. Argan oil, which is produced predominantly in southern regions of Morocco, is a key ingredient in today’s sweet, and nutty delicacy. The oil with its distinctive, nutty taste can be used in salads, tagines, and simply for dipping bread, however, when mixed with ground almonds it’s positively addictive.


How to Make a Moroccan Lamb and Vegetable Tagine

After Eid Al Adha, every Moroccan freezer is full of succulent lamb. Have you thought of using it in a tagine with seasonal vegetables for a delicious lunch time treat?

By Layla Dahamou - Aug 12, 2019 Rabat

While Morocco is known for a variety of sweet and savory dishes, including our moist corne de gazelles, made with ground almonds, Marrakech’s renowned Tangia, and the quintessential mint tea, perhaps the most famous of Moroccan dishes is the Tagine. Tagine is actually the name of the earthenware cooking pot. The tagine can be used to cook almost anything, from eggs, to ground beef, to bread. Today I’m going to show you a simple meat and vegetable recipe – once you have the basics you can do anything with a tagine!’ The tagine is cooked slowly at a low temperature, resulting in an aromatic, deep flavor and the all-important sauce to soak up with a chunk of warm bread.

Friday Morning in a Moroccan Kitchen

Jamila has been making traditional Moroccan couscous since the age of 14.

By Morgan Hekking -Aug 25, 2019 Rabat

Friday is Jamila Bakkari’s favorite day of the week. Not because it signals the upcoming weekend, but rather because she gets to spend the morning carrying out one of Morocco’s cherished traditions: preparing couscous. Jamila has been making traditional Moroccan couscous since the age of 14.
Every Friday morning, she and her seven sisters would help their mother and grandmother cook the massive meal for their large family. Jamila began helping by washing vegetables, but she was later appointed to managing the meat.

BFI London Film Festival to Feature Moroccan Movie ‘The Unknown Saint’

The movie was released on May 15, 2019.

By Morocco World News - Aug 30, 2019 Rabat

After making its debut last May during the Cannes Film Festival, “The Unknown Saint” will be showcased during BFI London Film Festival, which will take place from October 2nd to 13th. The movie is the first feature film by Moroccan director Alaa Eddine Aljem. BFI London Film Festival is one of the most important annual film festivals in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1953 by the British Film Institute (BFI) and it is sponsored by the British newspaper The Times. Every year, the festival features more than 300 films and documentaries of various lengths, from around 50 countries.
After projections in Melbourne (Australia), Marseille (France), and Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), the movie will be projected in the British capital twice, on October 2 and 4.

Initiator of Marrakech’s ‘Holocaust Memorial’ Told to Leave Morocco

Even after the authorities in Ait Faska destroyed the controversial Holocaust Memorial for “lack of legal authorization to build,” Bienkowski continued to talk about the issue on social media.

By Morocco World News - Aug 31, 2019 Rabat

The initiator of the recently demolished “Holocaust Memorial” site in Morocco’s Marrakech-Safi region has been told to leave the country in the next 72 hours, local outlets have reported. The move comes amid what appeared to be a controversy, sparked by news of the building and then the demolition of a Holocaust Memorial site, about the history of Jewish suffering as well as Morocco’s position on the sensitive topic of anti-Semitism.
Olivier Bienkowski, a German national and the founder of Pixel Helper, the non-profit group which conceptualized and built the now demolished site, has since said that his goal was to raise awareness about anti-Semitism, minority rights, and peaceful cohabitation.

10 Good Reasons to Visit Morocco

If Morocco isn’t on your bucket list yet, here’s why it should be.

By Morgan Hekking - Aug 24, 2019 Rabat

Plenty of people around the world have added Morocco to their list of dream destinations. Tons of other people can’t even locate it on a map–and don’t care to. For the people in between, who are on the fence about whether or not they should venture into the unfamiliar terrain of North Africa, here are ten reasons to visit Morocco. 

The primary concern for many globetrotters is the assurance of safety in a given country.  Morocco is often referred to as “a good house in a bad neighborhood.” I personally would not recommend referring to the continent of Africa as a bad neighborhood, but perhaps the saying brings you some comfort. The primary takeaway is that Morocco is very safe for travelers.  The greatest threats tourists will face in Morocco are scammers, catcallers, and the occasional petty thief. Rumors of dangerous anti-Western sentiment have little basis. To my fellow women: no, you will not be stoned to death for revealing your shoulders or holding hands with someone of the opposite sex. And no, you don’t have to wear a hijab. 
Tourists should follow the safety precautions they would take in any other country: keep your valuables where you can feel them, and don’t walk through busy areas with priceless goods in tow. If you tend to be a nervous or stressed traveler, there are dozens of top-rated travel agencies that will arrange your transportation, accommodation, and guides.

Gueliz Through the Eyes of an Expat: The Streets Which Ground Our Lives

Throughout our lives we live on many streets. We may refer to them as my street or our street, the neighborhood street, or the street I live on. 

By Morocco World News - Aug 10, 2019 By Barbara R Deraoui Rabat

In my case, they had many names over the years. They have been both in my home country and overseas. In some ways, I think they help to define and shape our lives. Our streets may only be home to residences or maybe a mixture of shops, homes, and larger businesses. Some may be older, while others are new. There may be a lot of history tied to them. Some are tree-lined or have flowers or fruit trees while others are bare and pristine looking.  Streets are also defined by each country in which they exist. They even have their own personalities and style.  For example, some use a lot of signage while others have to be learned by memory or landmarks. Some are narrow or winding while others are wide and straight. My current street is well over 70 years old and hosts a nearby cafe with hotels and interesting shops. It is in the heart of Marrakech called  Gueliz.  It’s located by one of the main and busiest streets in the city called Mohammed V. It also serves as a connection between two larger streets.

Hiking the Mgoun Summit, Morocco’s Third Highest Peak

The changing landscapes and dramatic rock formations of the Mgoun summit trail in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains make it one of my top hikes to date.

By Margot Eliason - Margot Eliason is a writer at Morocco World News. Aug 11, 2019 Rabat

The drive from Casablanca to the remote valley of Ait Bouguemez, the starting point of the Mgoun summit trail, is long, 10 hours long, give or take time for lunch and a mint tea break. We leave the chaos of Casablanca’s traffic behind and head south-east towards the small regional capital of Beni Mellal on a shiny new, quiet freeway.  It’s mid-summer, hot and dry. We make a quick stop at a service station for a rooster, onion, and olive tajine, then we get back on the road.

39% of Moroccans Haven’t Heard of Climate Change

By Yahia Hatim - Sep 5, 2019 Rabat

A report published by Afrobarometer, on February 14, 2019, shows that a large proportion of the Moroccan population is not aware of climate change and how it affects the environment. The report was based on a study completed by interviewing a diverse sample of Moroccans. The results of the study show that 4 out of 10 Moroccans (39%) have never heard about climate change. Climate change awareness is higher within formally educated Moroccans. The climate change awareness rate goes from 17%, for people who never went to school, to 85% for those who received a university level education. About half the interviewees agreed that droughts (52%) and floods (54%) have become much more intense over the past 10 years.

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