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Morocco Week in Review 
February 20 2021

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Robert Purvis, Moroccan-American Who Helped 9,000 Slaves Gain Freedom

The activist operated a network of secret routes and safe houses allowing runaway slaves to travel from the south of the US to the north.

By  Yahia Hatim - Feb 12, 2021

The US Embassy in Morocco has paid tribute to Robert Purvis, an American man of Moroccan descent who dedicated his life to the abolition of slavery.
“He helped over 9,000 American slaves to freedom, becoming a true hero and source of pride for both Morocco and the United States,” the embassy wrote.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1810, Robert Purvis was the grandchild of a woman known as Dido Badaracka. She was captured in Morocco at the age of 12 and transported to the US to serve as a slave.

According to American historian Margaret Hope Bacon, Purvis described his Moroccan grandmother as a “full-blooded Moor of magnificent features and great beauty. She had crisp hair and a stately manner.” During her childhood, Dido Badaracka worked for a white woman who treated her kindly, educated her, and allowed her to live separately. Robert Purvis strongly admired his Moroccan grandmother. “Through her, he developed a lifelong identification with the African race and a passionate hatred of slavery,” Bacon wrote……….
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Dear friends and colleagues –
We are delighted to share with you a new resource recently developed by the MRA team on “External Trigger and Drivers of Violence against Women in Morocco.”  This GBV and Gender Resilience Outline is Annex E to the complete Gender Analysis 2020 Report, prepared for USAID/Morocco by TALM in collaboration with MRA Mobilizing for Rights Associates.  Arabic, English and French links are below, with many thanks to the local NGOs who contributed input during our online consultations.  Hoping that this will be useful for your work…………….

Les déclencheurs et moteurs externes des violences faites aux femmes au Maroc (français) :
المحفزات الخارجية ومحركات العنف ضد النساء في المغرب (العربية):

External Trigger and Drivers of Violence against Women in Morocco (English):

Complete Gender Analysis report (English):        
Résume du rapport entier (français)/

Morocco Receives Certificate of Couscous’ UNESCO Heritage Registration

UNESCO gave couscous the special designation on December 16, 2020.

By  Zineb Bourchouk  - Feb 18, 2021 Rabat

Samir Addahre, Morocco’s ambassador to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), received on Wednesday the certificate of registration of couscous on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.  ouscous is Morocco’s 10th “element” on the list. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania presented a joint request to include couscous on UNESCO’s list in December 2018.  The official inclusion recognizes the North African dish, known and loved by many, as a shared cultural treasure. Other variations of the dish made their way elsewhere and can be found in countries such as Brazil, Italy, and Malta. …
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Workers Discover 3-Centuries-Old Underground Tunnels in Tangier Medina

By Yahia Hatim Feb 17, 2021

Construction workers discovered this morning, February 17, the entrance to a network of underground tunnels in Tangier’s medina — the city’s old district.
Four-meters deep and several-hundred-meters long, the tunnels date back to the 17th century, when Tangier was under Portuguese (1640-1661) and British occupation (1661-1684). The discovery of the tunnels was random. Construction workers in the medina found the tunnels’ entrance while working on a large renovation project. Initial explorations have shown that at least three tunnels, approximately 100 meters long and one and a half meters wide each, go from the medina towards the Mediterranean coast of Tangier.

Samir Machour: Unsung Hero Who Helped Morocco Secure COVID-19 Vaccines

By Yahia Hatim -  Jan 23, 2021

Samir Machour, a Moroccan scientist based in South Korea, has been one of the important actors who allowed Morocco to become the first African country to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Machour is currently the senior executive vice president for quality control at the Seoul-based biotechnology company, Samsung Biologics. In December 2020, the scientist declared that he had been in close touch with the leaders of British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, pressuring them to prioritize Morocco while delivering their COVID-19 vaccines. Machour’s efforts seem to have borne fruit. On Friday, January 22, Morocco received a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in India, becoming the first African country to receive vaccines.
Read also: India to Export COVID-19 Vaccines to Morocco
Samir Machour spoke about his efforts to help Morocco secure doses of COVID-19 vaccines earlier than neighboring countries during an interview on December 25 with Moroccan journalist Ridouane Erramdani……………..
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How Biden Can Ease Tensions That Trump Stoked in the Western Sahara

By Nicolas Niarchos February 10, 2021

One of Donald Trump’s last acts of foreign policy was a tweet. On December 10th, he announced that he had signed a proclamation recognizing the Moroccan government’s claim to the Western Sahara, a sprawling and bitterly disputed former Spanish colony that Rabat annexed in 1975. In return, Morocco agreed to recognize the state of Israel. Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and the orchestrator of the deal, claimed that the Administration’s goal was humanitarian. Kushner said that the American declaration of a Moroccan victory would improve the lives of members of the Polisario Front, who have called for the independence of the Western Sahara for forty-seven years. “We want the Polisario people to have a better opportunity to live a better life, and the President felt like this conflict was holding them back,” Kushner said.

Trump and Kushner’s statements reflected a mix of opportunism, cynicism, and ignorance. In his tweet, Trump said, “Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!” That language appeared to have been cribbed from an interview that the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave to a Moroccan newspaper in 2007, which used the phrase “serious and credible” to describe a Moroccan plan for creating an autonomous Western Saharan region without full independence. Kushner’s statement about wanting to help “the Polisario people,” rang hollow, too. The indigenous people who live in the disputed region are called the Sahrawis; Polisario is the name of their left-leaning rebel group. And most of the hundred and seventy thousand Sahrawi refugees who are currently living in desert camps in Algeria do not want to return to the lands that Morocco seized. They fear the kingdom’s secret police, who have limited freedom of speech and have frequently beaten and detained activists.The United Nations Human Rights Commission’s working group on arbitrary detention recently cited the Moroccans for the arrest and torture of the Sahrawi journalist Walid el-Batal, after videos emerged of him being beaten by police in the city of Smara.

Trump’s recognition-by-tweet of a decades-old Moroccan territorial claim has left the Biden Administration in a dilemma. Weeks before Trump made his announcement, fighting between Morocco and the Polisario erupted for the first time since 1991. A renewed conflict could destabilize a region already beset by active insurgencies in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. Algeria, which backs the Polisario, has been weakened by a constitutional crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. (The President of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, was incommunicado for two months last fall, while he received treatment for the disease in Germany.) “I think there’s a lot of potential for this to inject more volatility into a region that doesn’t need more volatility,” Andrew Farrand, an expert on North Africa and the author of “The Algerian Dream,” an upcoming book about the country, told me……………………….
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Nestle Inaugurates First Private Solar Station in Morocco’s El Jadida

The station produces 1.7 gigawatts of electricity per year, a project in line with Morocco’s renewable energy goals.

By Safaa Kasraoui  - Feb 16, 2021 Rabat

Nestle Morocco inaugurated today its first private station in the city of El Jadida, near Casablanca. The station covers a land of 7,000 square meters adjacent to the company’s factory. The solar station operates some 2,600 photovoltaic panels, and produces 1.7 gigawatts of electricity per year. Nestle’s El Jadida solar project is the third station installed in the Middle East and North Africa after the inauguration of similar plants in Dubai and Jordan. Moroccan state media said that the station also eliminates the emission of more than one million kilogram of CO2 per year. The inauguration of the project is part of the strategy by the Swiss multinational company. The company seeks to reduce Nestle’s CO2 emissions by 2030. The strategy aims for zero emission by 2025. Qair, a company that specializes in renewable energies, built the solar station in collaboration with the Swiss company for a budget of MAD 12 million ($1.34 million).
Morocco’s Minister of Energy Aziz Rabbah attended the inauguration ceremony, where he recalled the country’s interest in the renewable energy sector...
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Moroccan Recipes 101: Taktouka

In Morocco, salads are usually served on the side of the main dish.

By  Zineb Bourchouk  - Feb 14, 2021

Moroccan cuisine holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up with its delights and those who only had a feeling taste of it while visiting the country.  rom the beautiful colors of its dishes to the complexity of its flavors, it leaves everyone longing for the next time they will experience its coziness and warmth.  In Morocco, salads are usually served on the side of the main dish. Not only do they add a visually pleasing decoration to the table, but they also bring a wide range of flavors and textures to the meal.  If you want to impress your family or you simply want to enjoy this delicious and soul filling dish, I invite you to make this easy Taktouka recipe. ……
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In Photos: One Cyclist’s Coddiwomple Across Morocco

By  Perri Huggins  - Perri Huggins is an editor at Morocco World News. Feb 14, 2021 New York

Britain-based cyclist Eoghan (Owen) McHugh has experienced many literal and figurative ups and downs while biking across Morocco over the last few months.
Avoiding Europe’s current political troubles, Eoghan opted in October for sunshine, cycling, and cultural exploration. And thus began an adventure that would take him from Morocco’s rugged northern mountains to the sparkling waters off its southern coast……
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Leila Slimani: Islamism Is Not Terrorism

Slimani argues that French media’s continuous conflation of ‘islamist’ and ‘terrorist’ is dangerous and islamophobic.

By  Zineb Bourchouk  - Feb 16, 2021 Rabat

Renowned French-Moroccan writer Leila Slimani is not happy with France’s gradual descent into islamophobia and context-free generalizations when discussing Islam and Muslims.  Appearing on Cliquea popular French television show, to discuss the recent Le Pen vs. Darmanin debate on counterterrorism in France, the writer said she was disappointed that the two politicians appeared to equate Islamism with terrorism.  The two  politicians inconsiderately and interchangeably used the words “Islamist” and “terrorist” without taking a pause to explain the difference between the two terms, Slimani charged.  She argued that the continuous confusion between ‘islamist’ and ‘terrorist’ is dangerous and islamophobic. “This obsession with religion makes me very angry and very uncomfortable,” she expressed.  Conflating Islam with terrorsim is commonplace in France’s mainstream media narrative. In an attempt to explain  the misconception, Slimani brought up the Moroccan government by calling it islamist. “The Moroccan Prime Minister is an Islamist,” she exclaimed, “but that does not make him a terrorist.” ……………………………
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‘Essaouira Debates’ Discuss Morocco’s Diversity, Jewish History

By  Zineb Bourchouk  - Feb 16, 2021

High school and middle school students in Essaouira, western Morocco, took part in the Royal Initiative on February 13-14, to introduce the study of the history of Moroccan Judaism in Morocco’s school curricula.  The seminar took place in Bayt Dakira or the “House of Memory,” a cultural center dedicated to the history of Judaism.  To promote tolerance and diversity, Moroccan schools will integrate the history of Jewish-Moroccans who constituted a large portion of the country’s community.  

Andre Azoulay, advisor of King Mohammed VI and founding president of the Essaouira-Mogador Association, announced that over 100 clubs were created at the request of students, only a month after launching the first “Club of Tolerance and Coexistence”.  During the Essaouira debates, students embraced the idea of a “united Morocco” as a way of combating religious bigotry and other forms of discrimination.  Azoulay took pride in the student’s excellent representation of Morocco and its educational system.  Essaouira also witnessed many events between February13-14. While discussions were hosted in Bayt Dakira, other learning and cultural institutions played a pivotal role in organizing the event……. 
Continuous  here:

Rate of Women Engineering Graduates in Morocco Among Highest Worldwide

By  Yahia Hatim  - Feb 13, 2021

Morocco records one of the largest women graduation rates in the world in the field of engineering. According to a recent UNESCO study, women make up 42.2% of total engineering graduates in the country. ith engineering being one of the few disciplines that remain largely male-dominated, the rate of women graduates in Morocco is far higher than in some developed countries that boast about gender equality, such as Canada (19.7%), the US (20.4%), Germany (21.1%), the UK (23.5%), Norway (23.9%), and France (26.1%). While student’s personal preferences can significantly impact the rates, they can still be very indicative of the gender-inclusiveness of engineering schools in each country. The few countries with higher rates of women engineering graduates than Morocco include Uruguay (45.9%), Bangladesh (46.1%), Peru (47.5%), and Benin (54.6%). On the other hand, countries with the lowest rates include Saudi Arabia (2.7%), Niger (7.5%), and Burundi (8.0%)………………
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13 Netflix TV Shows and Movies Filmed in Morocco (2021)

Heading to Morocco? These Netflix TV shows and movies filmed in Morocco will help you prepare for your trip from the comfort of your couch. Here are 13 TV shows and movies set in Morocco on Netflix streaming in the US as of January 23, 2021. Many are also available in other countries. Watch them while you can, because content disappears as licensing agreements expire. Morocco’s a popular filming destination. It often serves as a safe stand-in for other Middle Eastern countries. Don’t miss the bonus lists below of Morocco movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime Video.

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Holocaust: Morocco Renews Strong Attachment with Jewish Diaspora, Heritage

Morocco was home to the Muslim world’s largest Jewish community before Israel became a state in 1948.


Morocco was the special guest of a virtual seminar on the Holocaust hosted in Colombia on Wednesday,  which  marked the International Day to commemorate the memory of victims of the mass genocide. Moroccan Ambassador to Colombia and Ecuador, Farida Loudaya represents Morocco during the seminar. She emphasized Morocco’s approach and efforts to promote the culture of peace, intercultural, and inter-faith dialogue. The diplomat said that Morocco will continue to be a land of tolerance, openness, and multiculturalism. During her participation, Loudaya recalled how late King Mohammed V categorically refused to hand over Moroccan-Jewish people to the Nazi regime despite the “implacable reaities imposed by the French protectorate,” she said. The ambassador emphasized Morocco’s approach against the Nazi regime, which she described as “barbarism and the application of any racist law against Moroccan Jews.” ………………….
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Corruption: Sofia el Mansouri Talks Global Issue, Local Impact

Morocco World News spoke with renowned Moroccan compliance expert Sofia el Mansouri on the origins and impact of corruption on a variety of scales.

By  Jasper Hamann  - Feb 13, 2021 Rabat

The issue of corruption continues to dominate headlines from the local to the international level. Observers often see this complex and pervasive problem in black-and-white, with little regard for its intertwined and universal nature. Affecting everybody in some way, corruption feeds off and reinforces inequalities. In order to understand, unpack, and analyze this important topic, Morocco World News spoke to compliance expert Sofia El Mansouri. Sofia El Mansouri is a Moroccan-born and US-educated compliance professional. After completing her undergraduate studies in the US, she returned to Morocco to find few opportunities for someone with her expertise. Instead, she moved to the UAE where she worked for 12 years.  Her very first assignment was at a company that was subject to a monitoring program the US imposes when they catch a company engaged in “illegal activities.” Her employer had made improper payments (bribery) in the Middle East and was part of the oil for food scandal in Iraq. In response, the company now faced a three-year monitorship…………………….
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Moroccan Professor Wins 2021 King Faisal Arabic Literature Award

By  Nihale Azahhaf  - Feb 12, 2021

On February 11, Mohamed Mechbal, a professor of rhetoric and literary criticism at the university of Abdelmalek Essaadi in Tetouan, won the King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Language Literature. he jury of the King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Language and Literature awarded the Moroccan professor with the prize in recognition of his project that focused on the theme “The New Rhetoric,” . The New Rhetoric project of Mohamed Mechbal aims to connect  rhetorical research with the fields of literature, language, communication, as well as with theoretical and procedural foundations of the beginning of modern Arab rhetoric, said the jury. Mohamed Mechbal works’ are characterized by his depth, relevance, originality as well as theoretical and realistic mixing, added the jury of the prize. The King Faisal Foundation initiated the award in 1977. The award recognizes the exceptional contributions of five groups of individuals and institutions. These include,  service to Islam, Islamic Studies, Arabic language and literature as well as medicine, and science………..
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