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Morocco Week in Review 
May 22 2021

Virtual Magazine of Morocco on the Web

Searching for Nepal (RPCV revisiting Nepal)

Searching for Nepal chronicles the emotional and cultural journey of a former Peace Corps Volunteer as he retunes to Nepal, seeking out his adopted family in the aftermath of Nepal’s Maoist civil war. Filmed entirely on location, this exotic, soul-searching adventure explores the universal yearning to go home again. A multi- award winning film………………………
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Chargé d’Affaires David Greene Celebrates 200th Anniversary of American Legation in Tangier

Tangier, May 17, 2021 

Two hundred years today, the American Legation in Tangier became an official U.S. diplomatic mission, when U.S. Consul John Mullwany moved into the building. The Legation was a gift from Moroccan Sultan Moulay Suliman earlier in 1821.  The American Legation in Tangier is the first diplomatic property acquired by the United States, the oldest U.S. diplomatic property in the world, and the only National Historic Landmark outside U.S. territory.  It was the site of many significant events in American, Moroccan, and world history. These include negotiation of the Spartel Lighthouse Treaty, one of the first international conventions signed by the United States, as well as agreements with Morocco to facilitate shipping and trade. During World War II, the Legation served as planning headquarters for Allied operations in North Africa and was also used by the U.S. Office of Special Services to break Nazi codes. One of the two first U.S. diplomatic missions to receive Marine Security Guard detachments, the Legation was well known in the Medina for always having a U.S. Marine standing sentry outside its entryway. …
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Why a 200-Year-Building in Morocco Is the Only National Historic Landmark Outside the U.S.

The structure in the port city of Tangier has served as a diplomatic residence, consulate, espionage headquarters, museum and library

By Graham Cornwell  May 17, 2021

Morocco may seem like a strange place for a U.S. national historic site, the only one in a foreign country, but the North African nation may very well be the United States’ oldest friend. In 1777, as various European powers debated whether or not to intervene in the American War for Independence, the Moroccan sultan, Moulay Mohammed ben Abdallah, issued a proclamation recognizing U.S. independence from Britain, making his nation the first country to do so. The Sultan’s decree welcomed American ships to “come and traffic freely” in Moroccan ports. His hope was to increase maritime trade—and customs revenue—and saw the new nation as a potential trading partner. Compared to France, Britain and Spain, the U.S., once established, had relatively few interests in Morocco. Yet its location on a critical trade route through the Strait of Gibraltar and the challenge of Barbary pirates in the vicinity made a more official presence for the American necessary. Established 200 years ago, on May 17, 1821, the Tangier American Legation is a rambling mansion that spans two sides of the Rue d’Amerique in the southern corner of the medina, or old walled city, of Tangier, which at the time was Morocco’s diplomatic capital……………………………

The Diplomatic Intrigue That Gave Morocco a Cameo Appearance in the U.S. Civil War

Confederate agents seeking European support were imprisoned by the U.S. consul, which ignited international protest

In the winter of 1862, Union troops occupied Fort Henry and Fort Donelson on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederacy. Two ironside battleships, the Monitor and the Merrimack fought to a stalemate off Hampton Roads, Virginia. And on the coast of North Africa, 40 U.S. Marines landed in Tangier, Morocco, to help quell a riot and take possession of two Confederates who had been arrested by the U.S. Consul.

By Graham Cornwell  January 21, 2020

This bizarre Civil War episode came about mainly because of the infamous exploits of the C.S.S. Sumter, a Confederate blockade runner commanded by Raphael Semmes that had been terrorizing the U.S. Navy and Northern merchants throughout the Atlantic. On January 18, 1862, the Sumter docked in Gibraltar in need of fuel and repairs. Through clever persistence, the U.S. consul in Gibraltar, Horatio Sprague, had successfully kept the Sumter there by pressuring the town’s merchants to refuse the Confederates all necessary supplies. Without coal, they were stuck……Read more here:

Peace “Corps-ner” Display at the Legation

December 29, 2019December 26, 2019 Leave a comment by John Davison

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American Tourists to Morocco Reached Almost Half Million Before COVID-19

The US embassy’s charge d’affaires is satisfied with the cooperation linking his country and Morocco.

By  Safaa Kasraoui - May 10, 2021 Rabat

The Charge d’Affaires at the US embassy in Morocco, David Greene, discussed the strong bonds between Washington and Rabat in recent remarks. The diplomat extolled cooperation between his country and Morocco during an interview  on Sunday in a TV program aired by MEDI1 TV. In the interview, Greene emphasized the quality of the cooperation between his country and Morocco in various fields, including tourism. Greene said that the tourism sector experienced a “great boom” before COVID-19. The number of American tourists who visited Morocco before COVID-19 reached nearly half a million, he said. Greene also expressed his hope to see the number grow after the pandemic. The US diplomat also touted security cooperation between Rabat and Washington, saying the two allies work in this field to preserve stability in the MENA region. Greene emphasized that Morocco and the US share common interests. He described Rabat as an “important” and a “close” partner for the US in several peacekeeping operations and counterterrorism missions…………………………..
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US Charge d'Affaires Supports Multifaceted Development in Al Hoceima

Michael Saners, May 20th, 2021 Rabat

US Charge d’Affaires visited different sites in Al Hoceima to illustrate the US’ commitment to Morocco’s regional development and cultural importance.

In a visit to Al Hoceima, the US Charge d’Affaires David Greene supported a wide variety of development projects in the region.  Greene met with different local leaders such as the Governor of Al Hoceima Farid Chourak, Provincial Council President Ismail Raiss, Vice Mayor Nourreddine Bellouki, Regional Delegate of the Ministry of Culture Larbi Mesbahi, and Provincial Delegate of the Ministry of Culture Jihane El Khattabi. The meeting commemorated the recent milestone of 200 years of diplomatic relations between the US and Morocco.  During the visit, the US diplomat visited the Torres Al Kalla, a 13th century fortress located in Al Hoceima National Park. The US-led Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) provided $170,000 (MAD 1.5 million) to fund the completion of the historic site’s renovations. The AFCP funded 11 other site restorations throughout Morocco……

Empowering Women to Combat Climate Change

Research indicates that countries with high representation of women in politics are more likely to ratify international environmental treaties and undertake stronger efforts to combat climate change.

By  Shivani Lakshman  - May 8, 2021

Climate change is likely the most urgent crisis facing us in the 21st century. Rising temperatures are causing increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters, more droughts and heat waves, precipitation changes, and sea level rise. Consequently, this is leading to high levels of food insecurity, mass displacements, the spread of disease, and many other social, economic, and political challenges worldwide.  Morocco is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Since the 1960s, Morocco’s climate has increased by 1°C, and projections indicate an increase of 1-1.5° until 2050. This temperature increase is associated with reductions in mountain snow cover and in rainfall; projections indicate a decline of 10 to 20 percent in average precipitation across the country by 2100.  Consequently, droughts are becoming more frequent. Sea level is projected to rise between 18-59 centimeters by 2100, threatening 60 percent of Morocco’s population in coastal cities. Some areas of the northern coast are already eroding by 1 meter each year. Lastly, water resources are also under increasing pressure, with water shortages now expected by 2020 and 2050 in many southern regions. ………………………………………
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“Telling a story is like holding a cup of coffee while climbing a hill”

Date: 29 avril 2021 Author: antopythoneng

For the first interview of this series, meet Bochra Laghssais, a professional Amazigh storyteller and a women & girls empowerment advocate. In this interview, she tells about the importance of storytelling for the Amazigh culture, and her relationship with the teachings of her storytelling master Hajj Ahmed Ezzarghani. She also explains what storytelling has done for women empowerment in Morocco and its potential to transform conflicts and build peace.

Bochra Laghssais is a 24 years-old Amazigh Moroccan storyteller. She worked as a storyteller in Café Clock, a cultural café in Marrakech. She advocates for girls education and empowerment and involved as coordinator and mentor for Project Soar Morocco, a non-profit organization advocating for girls education in Morocco. Currently, she is a Ph.D. researcher on International Peace, Conflict and Development Studies. She is also an advisory committee member of “Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage »………………………
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Morocco’s Startup Culture, What Works and What Must Be Done

By  Toms Dumpis  - May 9, 2021 Rabat

Doing business in Morocco as a startup has never been easier according to local entrepreneurs. Morocco has hosted international startup summits, accelerators, even Africa’s first Plug and Play office. As such, it comes as no surprise that even the likes of CNN have covered the country’s bustling ecosystem. Morocco has a long history of a startup culture that preceded recent reforms and digitization efforts. Yet these new initiatives will likely serve as catalysts to help Morocco’s young entrepreneurs to take advantage of their environment.

The self-described “Startup Evangelist,” founder of a variety of successful Moroccan startups, Mehdi Alaoui, told Morocco World News that he has been involved with startups since 2001. He has been competing, searching for funding, and investing in the sector for approximately 20 years. While Morocco’s startup roots traced back a couple of decades, possibly even more. But more broadly, Morocco’s population and the media began paying attention to the topic in 2010, as competitions, accelerators, initiatives, and general government interest in startups emerged. Morocco, like many countries undergoing development, is currently experiencing a transitional phase between the paper era and the digital age, a digital transformation that is likely to serve young tech-savvy entrepreneurs well…
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Laylat Al-Qadr: The Night That is Worth More Than 83 Years

With the holy month of Ramadan coming to its end, Muslims around the world are looking forward to celebrating Laylat Al-Qadr amid the COVID-19 crisis.

By  Youssra El Badmoussi  - May 9, 2021 Rabat

Celebrated every year toward the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Laylat Al-Qadr holds a deep significance for the Muslim community; it is considered to be the holiest night in the Islamic calendar.  Laylat Al-Qadr derives its names from the belief that it is the night with the greatest, unrivaled potential of bringing believers close to God in Islamic theology and practice. Etymologically, the word Al-Qadr evokes two main meanings: respect and honor. But it also means fate and destiny.  Al-Qadr is interchangeably translated as the Night of Destiny, Night of Power, or Night of Decree. But whichever translation one prefers, the main, unchanging consensus among Muslims is that it is the night when God’s mercy is boundless and His grace is fathomless. 
In the Islamic tradition, it is also believed that Laylat Al Qadr is the night when God shows great mercy in decreeing the fate of humans………………………
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Statistics Show Sharp Increase in Divorce Cases in Morocco

The statistics show the number of divorces increased from 7, 213 in 2004 to 55, 470 cases in 2019.

By Safaa Kasraoui - May 7, 2021 Rabat

Recent statistics show that divorces are increasing alarmingly in Morocco following the 2004 revision of Moudawana or the family code. The number of “repudiations,” an Islamic dissolving of the marriage that originally came exclusively by decision of the husband, also amounted to 26,914 cases, of which 7,213 resulted in a divorce judgement. Following the revision of the Moudawana family code in 2004, Morocco expanded repudiation law to allow both men and women to unilaterally request a dissolution of their marriage. Under the revised family code, a  husband is no longer  entitled to divorce his wife through repudiation……
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In the Kitchen: Artist Yto Barrada on the Moroccan Soup Recipe That Sustained Her (and Other Hungry New Yorkers) During the Pandemic

Yto Barrada served the classic Moroccan dish at the Wide Awakes soup kitchen.

Sarah Cascone, May 14, 2021

While many of us continue to work from home, we’re checking in with artists about the creativity they’ve been cooking up in their kitchens. Read on for the first installment in our new series on artists’ favorite recipes. Moroccan artist Yto Barrada has become the keeper of her family’s recipes—just don’t ask her to make them for you. “I am not a cook,” Barrada told Artnet News. “I know how to do it, but that doesn’t mean I do it.” Still, she spent years putting together a family recipe book, asking her mother, aunts, and other family members about how to making classic Moroccan dishes, from baked goods to offal meats, and everything in between. The task was complicated by the fact that, in practice, there were no real, written-down recipes for the dishes Barrada grew up eating at home. “It’s the old generation’s way of learning. So the measuring is in their eye. There’s no precise instruction,” she said. “If you haven’t spent your life under the table in the kitchen—listening, looking, tasting—you haven’t learned.” Completed about two years ago, Barrada’s book (for family members only) includes photos and snapshots, making it something of a family album as well as a cookbook.……………………….
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Home-Cooked Iftar in Morocco

First Time Fasting for Ramadan + HUGE Moroccan Food Feast!!
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How the Amazigh of Morocco get dressed in weddings

Moroccan fashion and Amazigh wedding clothes
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Thousands of migrants swim from Morocco to Spanish enclave of Ceuta

By Al Goodman, May 19, 2021 Madrid (CNN)

At least 6,000 people, including around 1,500 minors, swam from Morocco to the bordering Spanish enclave of Ceuta on Monday in the largest influx of illegal migration there in a single day, Spanish authorities said. The migrants swam from two locations, with some entering southern Ceuta at Tarajal beach, and a larger group entering the north of the city at Benzu beach, a spokesman for the Spanish government in Ceuta told CNN. One man drowned in the process, the spokesman added. At both locations, migrants swam around rocky breakwaters jutting out into the Mediterranean that mark the border between the countries. The spokesman said it was a short distance in each case. Ceuta is an enclave of some 84,000 Spaniards on Morocco's north coast and, crucially for migrants attempting to enter, it is on European Union soil. "I have never seen a situation like this one, it is unprecedented, I have never felt so frustrated and sad," Ceuta President Juan Jesus Vivas, told Spanish broadcaster TVE on Tuesday. "This is a chaotic situation, so chaotic that we can't tell the exact number of migrants at the moment," he added. "We need to gather all the ones who have arrived and allocate them in a specific location, so they are not just wondering around the border."……
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Two Moroccan Scientists Enter Top 50 of AD Scientific Index.

Toms Dumpis May 19, 2021 Rabat

Two Moroccan scientists have made it into the top ranks of the international 2021 AD Scientific Index. Two researchers at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Rajaa Cherkaoui El Moursli and Farida Fassi, have both made the list of top 50 scientists worldwide based on a variety of criteria. El Moursli, a professor of nuclear physics, now holds first place across the board, in Morocco, Africa, and the “Arab League.” Globally, she holds 33rd place.  El Moursli is an internationally renowned professor of nuclear physics, at the faculty of science at the Mohammed V University of Rabat. In 2015, she received the L'Oreal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science for her contribution to the proof of the existence of the Higgs Boson. She was the first Moroccan woman to receive the prestigious award. …
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International Day of Argania May 10th

Endemic to Morocco, argan trees are cultivated using ancient agroforestry practices like the Matifya - a rainwater reservoir carved into a rock. These dry-stone terraces are extremely resilient to water scarcity and soil erosion.

The multifaceted argan tree

The Argan tree (Argania spinosa) is a native species of the sub-Saharan region of Morocco, in the southwest of the country, which grows in arid and semiarid areas. It’s the defining species of a woodland ecosystem, also known as Arganeraie, which is rich in endemic flora. It is resilient to a harsh environment under water scarcity, risk of erosion and poor soils. This ecosystem of extraordinary beauty is not only important in terms of conservation, but also for research and socio-economic development, due to its forestry, agricultural and livestock use. The Argan tree woodlands provide forest products, fruits and fodder. The leaves and the fruits are edible and highly appreciated, as is the undergrowth, and constitute a vital fodder reserve for all herds, even in periods of drought. The trees are also used as fuelwood for cooking and heating. The world-renowned Argan oil is extracted from the seeds and has multiple applications, especially in traditional and complementary medicine and in the culinary and cosmetic industries……
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Learn How to Plant an Argan Seed with HAF (video)

In this video Hajiba Boumasmar, High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Program Coordinator, and Hassan Ait Ba, Caretaker at HAF's Imgdal Nursery, teach us the proper steps for planting an #argan​ seed. Along with the IMAGINE #empowerment​ program, argan trees are an important aspect of HAF's efforts to increase #womenempowerment​ and financial security in #Morocco​. More than half of the world's #arganoil​ comes from Morocco, whose arid climate is ideal for growing #argantrees​. In 2018 HAF partnered with FRÉ Skincare-HAF to plant 2,000 argan trees for the 40-women Izouran cooperative of Essaouira’s Smimou municipality. This provided not only income and environmental benefits, but also training workshops and school supplies for their children (helping combat high dropout rates still pervasive in rural areas). FRÉ and HAF significantly expanded their sustainability initiative in 2019 by planting 2,600 argan trees with three additional women’s cooperatives in Essaouira and 13,000 argan seeds in one of HAF's community-managed nurseries in the Marrakech region……
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HAF Celebrates International Day of Argania 2021  (video)

In celebration of the inaugural International Day of Argania, the High Atlas Foundation spoke with the women of Mogador and Mejji Cooperatives in Essaouira to learn about how the Argan tree has changed their lives.
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International Day of Argania, World Commends Morocco on Eco-Activism

Morocco celebrated the first annual international day of Argania and members of the UN praised the country’s conservation efforts.

By  Michael Sauers  - May 10, 2021 Rabat

Morocco celebrated its first international day of Argania, a holiday to honor the Argan tree and its unique impact on Morocco’s society and economy.  In March 2021, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed May 10 to be the International Day of Argania. Morocco proposed the resolution in early 2021 and 113 member states cosigned. The resolution sought to underline the economic and ecological importance of the Argan tree in Morocco. In 1988, UNESCO designated a space of more than 2,560,000 hectares as the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve. In 2014, UNESCO added the Argan Tree to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Since the inauguration of the Green Morocco Plan, the kingdom has worked diligently to employ new practices for sustainability and conservation efforts……
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Dutch Student Teams Get Ready for the Solar Car Race in Morocco

By  Toms Dumpis  - May 10, 2021 Rabat

Following the cancellation of the Australian World Solar Challenge race, Dutch students have set their sights on its equivalent in Morocco, to take place in October. Student teams from the Dutch universities of Groningen and Twente registered their teams for the 5-day long Morocco Solar Challenge slated to run between October 25, and October 29, 2021, reports Dutch media…
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In Photos: Cafe Maure, The Andalusian Face of Morocco

After concern that Cafe Maure would lose its unique charm, recent photos show that the restoration of Cafe Maure revived the Andalusian look of the Oudayas.

By Youssra El Badmoussi -  May 8, 2021 Rabat

On Rabat’s Atlantic coast, the Kasbah of the Oudayas welcomes visitors to view a representation of Morocco’s cultural heritage and history. Redolent with an Andalusian aura mixed with the smells of the Atlantic waves, the Kasbah of the Oudayas preserves a unique Andalusian-Arab style of architecture. The Oudayas — a UNESCO World Heritage site — is synonymous with alluring doors, opulent flower gardens, and undoubtedly the touristic Cafe Maure (Moorish cafe). Cafe Maure has hosted generations of tourists on its Zellige benches with its panoramic view. ……
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A hard but sweet-smelling slog on Mt Atlas – Morocco’s Valley of the Roses

10 May 2021

To earn a dollar, rose picker Izza in Morocco's Atlas Mountains wakes up at dawn to collect three kilos of flowers – eventually distilled into precious oil costing $18,000 per kilo. "We earn just enough to live on," she says, her hands gloved against the thorns and her head covered against the hot sun bearing down on the Valley of the Roses in the kingdom's south. The harvest begins at dawn, and it takes about six hours – before the sunshine damages the shocking pink petals – to fill the big bags that the women carry on their heads to the weighing station. Izza Ait Ammi Mouh, a Berber woman of "about 40" – she doesn't know her exact age and can't spell her name – doesn't complain. The work allows her to feed her family of five, picking 20 kilos (45 pounds) to take home just under $7 a day during the short April-May season. A kilo of essential oils requires between four and five tons of flowers. The heady aroma of the Rosa Damascena, a variety introduced in the days of the caravan trade, perfumes hedges and fields irrigated by two wadis between the mountains and the Sahara desert. Everything revolves around roses: the names of hotels, cosmetics sold in countless stores, necklaces offered by children in the streets……
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Scientists Discover 66 Million Year Old Marine Lizard in Morocco

By Toms Dumpis - May 14, 2021 Rabat

Scientists in Morocco have discovered a new species of mosasaur, a type of marine lizard that went extinct approximately 66 million years ago.  An international team of scientists from the UK, France, and Morocco, recently published a scientific paper in the Cretaceous Research journal describing a new species of Mosasaurids, named Pluridens serpentis. The scientists reconstructed it “based on two complete skulls and referred jaws” found in Morocco. The reconstruction of the species suggests that the new Moroccan species grew up to eight meters in length, unlike most of its relatives which usually were only a few meters long. The marine lizard had “elongate and robust jaws, small teeth, and specialized tooth implantation,” for hunting smaller prey…
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New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri’s new photobook is a celebration of Morocco

17 May 2021 Khaoula Ghanem DUBAI

“A gift to Morocco and the rest of the world,” is  how New York-based photographer Jinane Ennasri describes her new photobook, “Live From Morocco.”  The new photobook focuses on sharing the diverse beauty and culture of the North African country by way of grainy, pastel-tinged film photographs of people and everyday life in the Moroccan cities of Tangier, Fes, Oujda, Berkane, Al-Hoceima and the photographer’s birth city Taza. The candid photos, which were shot and collected between 2016 and 2019, capture the Northern region of Morocco in its rawest and purest form. “I find it beautiful that modernization and imported technology have not distorted Morocco to the extent of losing its substance or its essence,” shares Ennasri with Arab News. “Morocco has accepted these things and made a place for them, while safeguarding its sense of values and its history.”……………………………
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Female Empowerment Can Drive Development in Morocco

In this context, female empowerment could be the vital ingredient to achieving a more inclusive, open, and prosperous society - with, of course, a heightened focus on supporting the overall development of Morocco.

By Molly Case -  May 9, 2021

Despite Morocco’s international reputation as a reformist country, Moroccan women continue to face significant obstacles. Their social, economic, and political participation is either downplayed or denied altogether. Progressive revisions of the Moudawana Family Code (2004) and amendments to the Moroccan constitution (2011) have aided in the national promotion of liberty and equality, but the persisting, yawning gender gap in Morocco is the result of longstanding cultural norms and a resistance to change. In this context, female empowerment could be the vital ingredient to achieving a more inclusive, open, and prosperous society –  with, of course, a heightened focus on supporting the overall development of Morocco. …………………………………  
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Lakeville man promotes International Day of Living Together in Peace

Tad Johnson May 13, 2021

Day set aside to find ways to spread peace

When Lakeville resident Khaled Elabdi grew up in the small city of Larache, Morocco, he said he had Muslim, Christian and Jewish neighbors, each with their own traditions and customs. To further expand his horizons, his Muslim parents enrolled him at El Patronato, a Spanish school run by nuns. “They were strict and kind at the same time; strict in their teaching and kind in their care, especially in feeding us – delicious lunches and snacks,” Elabdi said of the nuns. “Sometimes their blessings coincided with the call to prayer from a close-by mosque. It was almost like one holy site was claiming us back from another. This atmosphere in which I grew up made it easy for me to accept others the way they are.” ……
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Tangier: A Crossroads of Timeless Creativity and Modern Innovation

by Youssef El Kaidi | May 2, 2021

Tangier’s strategic location at the crossroads between continents has gained it international fame and inspired many Western artists since antiquity. Today, Tangier is the second busiest hub in Morocco and home to a rapidly growing economy. Situated on the northernmost tip of Morocco, nine miles from the southern coast of Spain, Tangier is a city at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Known in Morocco as the “Bride of the North,” for its romantic charm, the city of Tangier has always cast some oriental magic on its visitors. Many have found their safe abode or mystical muse in Tangier, travelers and wanderers, fugitives and spies, drug dealers and smugglers, mystics and hermits, and poets and novelists.

Tangier: Historical Background

The myth says that the Greek king Hercules the Great (known as Heracles in Greek) built himself a cave on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Spartel, 13 kilometers south of Tangier. He is said to have rested there after finishing his eleventh labor of fetching the golden apples of the Hesperides from Lixus (the modern-day Moroccan city of Larache, southwest of Tangier). ………………………….
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Nour Means Light: Marrakech Boutique Offers Independence to Handicapped Women

by Tom Pollitt | May 9, 2021

Hidden among the souks, spice markets, and carpet shops of Marrakech’s ancient Medina one can find the most modern of restaurants, riads, and boutiques. Tucked away on an unassuming street, not far from the main square of Jemaa el-Fnaa, one may stumble upon Al Nour. At first glance, Al Nour looks like any other luxury clothing boutique in Marrakech. However, as so often in the Medina, its door hides far more than it may appear from the outside. Al Nour has a unique mission: to train, support, and employ handicapped Moroccan women. Of the 40 employees, 34 are women with special needs. It is the only organization of its kind working in the country……
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Morocco’s Approach to Modernity is Unique in the Arab World

by Alessandro Bruno | Apr 17, 2021

Morocco was largely spared by the so-called “Arab Spring,” and in many ways, the country was already “modern.” With the stability of a long-standing monarchy that has typically garnered popular support, the Kingdom has continued to evolve politically and economically. Morocco’s modernity has been nurtured by a monarchy, the oldest ruling monarchy in the Arab world. The royal family has typically enjoyed popular support and has proven to be more stable and willing to embrace change than the various self-styled “revolutionary” regimes that have emerged in the Middle East since the period of independence. The monarchy is central to understanding Morocco’s apparent progressiveness, particularly in contrast to the rest of the Arab world. Morocco’s King is also known under the title “Amir al-Mu’minin,” or “Commander of the Believers,” and, in a sense, he is the Caliph (religious leader), for he holds temporal as well as religious authority. This power stems from the claim that the Moroccan royal family belongs to the Alaouite dynasty and descends directly from the Prophet Mohammed. In practical terms, this means that the monarch acts as the protector of the Maliki rite (one of the four main juridical schools of Islam, which prevails in North Africa) with a view toward tolerance of other faiths and against extremism……………………..
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Sayyida al-Hurra: Governor, ‘Pirate Queen,’ and Trailblazer

by Austin Bodetti | Mar 21, 2021

Often cited as an example of female empowerment in modern times, the historical figure Sayyida al-Hurra also established herself as a groundbreaking leader in her own era: in addition to ruling the Moroccan city of Tétouan, she commanded a horde of pirates. From the philosopher Ibn Rushd to the theologian Ibn Arabi, the historical region of al-Andalus produced some of the Muslim world’s top luminaries during the Middle Ages. The territory, which comprised the portions of the Iberian Peninsula that fell under Muslim control from the eighth century to the 15th, served as a proving ground for the Islamic Golden Age’s greatest minds. As Christian forces retook the land that would become Portugal and Spain, al-Andalus also played a brief role in the life of Sayyida al-Hurra, a North African ruler who went on to a life of piracy. Born in 1485 as Lalla Aicha bib Ali ibn Rashid al-Alami, the future ruler spent her early years in the Andalusian city of Granada. By 1492, however, Granada had fallen to the Christian armies of Spain, marking the end of al-Andalus and forcing al-Alami to flee across the Strait of Gibraltar to Chefchaouen. Part of a wealthy family, she studied several languages, mathematics, and theology during the remainder of her childhood on the North African coast…
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Remembering Fatima Mernissi (1940-2015): A Pioneering Moroccan Feminist

by Youssef El Kaidi | Mar 14, 2021

Fatima Mernissi is one of the most prominent Islamic feminists, with a posthumous legacy of seminal scholarly contributions in the areas of feminism, women studies, and Islamic studies. Her books were widely received around the world and acclaimed for their audacity in engaging with the thorny questions of women’s issues in Islam and in Muslim societies. Born in Fes in 1940, Moroccan author and sociologist Fatima Mernissi grew up into Morocco’s most adamant advocate of women’s emancipation, and most prolific writer on the question of women’s rights in Islam. Her awareness of the position of women as being subordinate to men and socially, economically, and politically vulnerable started in her early childhood. In the harem, where she grew up, she realized the many physical/visible and mental/invisible hudud (sacred frontiers) set up for women not to trespass. While men cherished unconditional freedom to roam about, her kinswomen were confined inside the walls of the harem, and would promenade only when chaperoned, or disguised in men’s clothing. When she questioned the restrictive rules imposed on women, her maternal grandmother, Yasmina, explained that those rules were made by men to deprive women in some way or another. “But why aren’t they made by women?”[1] young Fatima would ask……………………
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The Importance of Cats in Morocco—and Islam

by Austin Bodetti | Feb 13, 2021

In contrast to much of the world, cats are the pets of choice in Morocco and they dominate popular culture. The reason stems from Islamic beliefs, which have generated a veneration of cats for over 1,000 years and made them ubiquitous across the Muslim world. In theory, I returned to Morocco from the United States in December to pursue a fellowship and take Arabic classes. In practice, though, I came back to the Moroccan capital of Rabat because of the cats. Whether dropping by the bank, shopping for groceries, strolling the marina, or walking to the mall, you will see cats wherever you go here. If you make the lucky mistake of carrying food with you, prepare to meet every feral cat in a five-mile radius. I, for one, often make several feline friends when I go to my favorite restaurant for French tacos in Rabat…
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Moroccan Land, Spanish Affiliation: Anachronism of Ceuta and Melilla

by Youssef El Kaidi | Jan 30, 2021

Indisputably African and Moroccan by geography, yet under Spanish colonialism for centuries, the Mediterranean towns of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco are the last colonies in Africa. Every time the issue of the towns is brought to the fore by Moroccan officials, it provokes angry reactions from their Spanish counterparts. When, thus, shall this dispute come to a resolution? The striking paradox of the towns of Ceuta and Melilla, being Spanish enclaves on African soil, is unmistakable to anyone who looks at the world map. The movement of tectonic plates millions of years ago set them as part of the African continent, yet Spain considers the issue indisputable and refuses any calls for dialogue over the future of the towns. How did the story of Ceuta and Melilla begin and what foreseeable prospects are there for a just resolution to one of the oldest burning, yet dormant conflicts in the world?

The conquest of Ceuta and Melilla dates back to the years 1415 and 1497 respectively, when the spirit of the Crusades was still at its zenith and imposing religion was the main incentive behind war, exploration, and conquest. Ceuta was seized by the Portuguese under the command of Prince Henry of Portugal who set out on August 21, 1415 on a crusading expedition that resulted in the fall of the town. This victory of which “heavens felt the glory, and the earth the benefit”[1] was acclaimed in Christendom and seen as God’s sign of satisfaction and pleasure at the “toil they [Crusaders] had undergone in His service.”[2] Ceuta’s great mosque was, therefore, immediately converted into a cathedral where a bishop was also appointed. Portugal formally transferred Ceuta to Spanish rule in 1668 under the Treaty of Lisbon, following the end of the Iberian Union in 1640…………………………………
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