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Social Change

   Language Attitudes: Amazigh in Morocco by Tania Reino Swarthmore College
Based on original ethnographic fieldwork I conducted in Morocco during the months of July 2006 and August 2006, I examine the complex interrelationship between Berber-Arab identities with a focus on social attitudes towards the Amazigh language and culture. First, a brief background on the history of Morocco is presented, with highlights on the Arab invasion of the seventh century, and the French colonization period from 1912 to 1956. The thesis then turns to the present situation of Amazigh in Morocco, regarding its economic position, and its official status in the spheres of education and religion. The role of the IRCAM, the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture, located in Rabat, is also presented as an important factor in the shift of language attitudes. I have incorporated two case studies, Bentahila (1992) and Ennaji (1997), that analyze Berber use and attitudes based on questionnaires and interviews conducted in Morocco. The thesis culminates with a report on my fieldwork, where I examine language attitude trends among Moroccans. An extensive selection of quotes is included, where the reader will be able to see vividly Moroccans’ language attitudes and reflections on identity issues. This study suggests the complexity of language attitudes. However, a positive trend could be identified among Berbers, and neutral or ambivalent feelings among the non-Berber participants. 

   Despite its limitations, Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Committee should be recognized as the Arab world's first experience in transitional justice, argues Mohammad Ahmad Bennis in “The Equity and Reconciliation Committee and the Transition Process in Morocco (Arab Reform Initiative, October 2006).

   Morocco's top-down reforms have improved economic, social, and human rights conditions significantly but have not changed the distribution of power or the nature of the political system, argue Marina Ottaway and Meredith Riley in “Morocco: From Top-Down Reform to Democratic Transition? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Paper no. 71, September 2006).

   Confronted with challenges such as maintaining legitimacy, dealing with Islamist oppositions, and supplying basic needs to growing populations, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia face three possible regime scenarios: Islamization of the political sphere, continuation of the authoritarian status quo, or accelerated evolution towards democracy (Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, “Maghreb Regime Scenarios”, Middle East Review of International Affairs, vol. 10, no. 3, September 2006, 103-19).

   In dealing with the challenges of Islamic radicalism, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, have made changes to their constitutions and political systems to allow the inclusion of Islamist groups in formal politics and head off any possible challenges to the survival of the regimes, according to Michael Willis (Mediterranean Politics, vol. 11, no. 2, July 2006, 137-50).

Don't look now, but a bit of Europe has come to the Maghreb. What next—full-fledged EU membership?
By Emily Flynn Vencat Newsweek International

Oct. 9, 2006 issue - Leila Ahlaloum, 25, is the very image of a modern European career woman. She works as a manager in a chic hotel, goes clubbing most weekends and, like many singletons, is on the prowl for Mr. Right. With her designer clothes and hip sunglasses, you'd never suspect she's a mainstream Muslim in an Islamic North African country. But as much as Leila represents a Western archetype, she's also the personification of modern Morocco. "Of course we love our own culture," says Leila, who lives in the cultural capital of Marrakech. "But ours is now a European way of life."

What a transformation. It's been 50 years since Morocco declared independence from France, yet the country has never been more European. The change can be seen in the sleek nightclubs opening in Marrakech and glossy tourist resorts springing up along Morocco's sunny Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. But it shows far more powerfully in the widespread adoption of European political, judicial and financial reforms, which are reshaping Morocco's record on everything from immigration to press freedom and women's rights. "Without a doubt, the country is the freest it has been in its history," says Theodore Ahlers, the World Bank's Morocco country director. "It's completely integrating with the rest of the world."  MORE

   Moroccans pay £144m a year for monarch
By Kim Willsher in Paris (Filed: 23/01/2005)

The Moroccan king, Mohammed VI, spends £3.6 million a month on staff wages, £97,000 on car repairs and almost £53,000 on animal feed, according to a breakdown of the palace budget that has enraged his poverty-stricken subjects. Details of the lavish spending - the first time that the finances of a royal Arab household have been revealed - show that the king costs Moroccan taxpayers £144.6 million a year, 18 times more than Queen Elizabeth II.

   The Challenge of Implementing Morocco's New Personal Status Law
By Stephanie Willman Bordat and Saida Kouzzi

In February 2004, the Kingdom of Morocco enacted reforms to the Mudawwana, or the law governing marriage, divorce, parentage, inheritance, child custody and guardianship, that have the potential to expand women's rights. Moroccan activists initially hailed the reforms as a major victory for women and for the democratic process more broadly. Whether the new law will advance women's rights in practice, however, remains to be seen.

   Moroccan compares nation's struggles to civil rights movement The Associated Press - ATLANTA, April 17 , 2004
The Moroccan ambassador to the United States toured the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site on Friday, comparing King's struggle to his own nation's civil rights movement and fight against terrorism. "Unfortunately, in the world you always find people who think they are different, or that other people are different from them and don't deserve what they have," said Ambassador Aziz Mekouar. "The struggle keeps on going." Morocco, in northwest Africa, is considered an ally of the United States in the war on terrorism. The U.S. has provided training, gear and intelligence to Morocco and other friendly nations in the region. But Morocco has also been the site of violence and is the home of suspected terrorists. The Spanish government believes the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group _ an organization with ties to al-Quaida _ may have been responsible for the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people and injured about 1,800. That group is also believed to be linked with suicide bombings last year in Casablanca, Morocco that killed 45 people, including 12 attackers. Mekouar said Moroccan officials are committed to destroying terrorist cells and that Moroccans were as shocked by the Casablanca attack as Americans were after the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. "Morocco is a very safe and quiet country," he said, standing yards away from King's tomb. "Unfortunately, this shows no one is immune from terrorism." U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat who joined King during many of the key moments of the civil rights movement, joined Mekouar for about an hour-long tour of the King site. He said he thinks it's important for leaders of all nations to learn about King's message of nonviolence. "Especially when we have all of this violence and warfare going on as we do today," Lewis said. "I wish our own president would listen and take heed to the words of Dr. King." MORE

 Morocco eyes better human rights
by Pascale Harter in Casablanca Saturday 10 January 2004 7:58 PM GMT
Ali L'Mrabit was jailed for insulting the king. Moroccan magazine editor Ali L'Mrabit looked pale but jubilant as he walked out of Sale prison a free man. A member of the new Justice and Reconciliation Committee called it "an historic day for Morocco" and "a turning point in the history of human rights in the country". Supporters queued up to kiss L'Mrabit and congratulate him on the Royal Pardon, which saw his threeyear prison sentence cut short after just eight months. Since his conviction in May 2003, the case of the satirical journalist imprisoned for "insulting the King" with cartoons and articles lampooning the royal family, has become a cause celebre for critics of Morocco's human rights record.
While US Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly praised King Muhammad VI for his "bold" democratic reforms, in private the United States, neighbouring Spain, and Morocco's closest ally France, were all expressing concern over the jailing of the journalist.

The thorough reform of Moroccan law bearing on the status of women announced last month by King Mohammed VI, which would recognize them as adults, is expected to put that country's women on a par with Tunisia's. This would leave only Algeria among North African former colonies of France where the traditional family code continues to significantly limit women's civil rights. "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence and marginalization?" asked the king in his address to the opening session of Morocco's parliament last month. Since the promulgation of a series of family laws in 1957 and 1958, the status of Moroccan women in civil law has been governed by the Code of Personal Status, known as the Mudawwana and based on the Malikite school of Islamic law. Under the code, women are treated as legal minors, have no say in their marriage contracts, have very limited access to divorce and are required to obey their husbands in all matters. "The personal status code, part of Morocco's civil law, establishes a system of inequality based on sex and relegates women to a subordinate status in society," said Human Rights Watch in urging the Moroccan government to change its legal code. "Women face governmentsponsored discrimination that renders them unequal before the law ... and restricts women's participation in public life," the group said. MORE

   Homegrown change in Morocco
Frederick Vreeland IHT Thursday, October 30, 2003
A monarch's vision MARRAKECH, Morocco While the Defense Department is dreaming of how its Iraq policies will transform Arab states into democracies, one Arab country is quietly working a democratic revolution without any apparent outside influence. King Muhammad VI of Morocco opened this autumn's session of Parliament by laying before the legislators a sweeping reform that effectively grants women equality with men. Since the early 1990's, civil rights groups have clamored for reform of the 1957 decrees that institutionalize the secondrate status of Moroccan women, but no one had predicted that Morocco's centuriesold discrimination against women could be reversed in one fell swoop.

    Morocco: When the Spirit Moves By Satellite
By David Kithcart For CWNews June 6, 2003
The Muslim world may restrict the Gospel, yet the Christian message is still getting through to hungry people. Many testify of having dreams and visions about Jesus, while others hear His message in more conventional ways. Morocco is a country of exotic people and culture. It's an Islamic country that is home to one of the largest mosques in the world, Mohammed IV, where people come and go often. 

  Spain to Morocco's child migrants: Go home Human rights groups urge compassion toward minors crossing illegally from Africa to Europe
By Sara B. Miller | Special to The Christian Science Monitor CEUTA, SPAIN, May 02, 2003 (The Christian Science Monitor via COMTEX)
The homes in northern Morocco's impoverished villages are roofed with metal sheets held down with rocks or broken appliances. Parents send their children to unpaid jobs, instead of school, hoping that at least they will learn a trade.

    Maid in Morocco
By: Anouar Majid
Young girls from poor backgrounds are often entrusted to middle or upper middle class families to work as maids and servants. They work hard, sleep very little, eat leftovers, and practically have no days off. One would think that our radical intellectuals would be up in arms about this lamentable situation, yet notwithstanding the growing attention to the problem everyone seems to downplay this form of child labor...............

    Finding a voice in Morocco
Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, By Stephanie Irvine/ BBC Focus on Africa Magazine
There are a few jokes going around Morocco at the moment about the new female members of parliament. For example: when the women get together in committees, instead of discussing policy, they will be exchanging recipes and the names of their dressmakers...............

An Amazigh customary legal system has been set up over thousands of years in North Africa covering all aspects of life. In fact, there were customary laws regulating the individual, collective, cultural and political life, and the system of ownership of lands, forests, water and minerals. The Amazigh tribes were organized in confederations according to lands owned jointly, to the geographic space or natural boundaries that allow mutual defense

    NEW HOPE, OLD FRUSTRATIONS Morocco: the point of change
"In Morocco, government is all about rain", Maréchal Lyautey is claimed to have said. The truth of his aphorism is dramatically clear this year as a persistent drought grips the land, worrying city-dwellers and obsessing the government. Morocco remains an agricultural country.......

    A Spanish bridge to Islam
Spain's Muslim converts reach out to Moroccan immigrant women and children. By Sara B. Miller | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
MADRID - As a teenager, Elena Rodriguez Arteaga visited the Alhambra, Granada's great Moorish citadel, and became intrigued with Spain's Muslim past. She studied its role in her overwhelmingly Catholic country, and the more she learned, the more she wanted to know.

    Moroccan Women Press For Change. , INTERVIEW, February 18, 2002 Posted to the web February 18, 2002 Washington, DC
Earlier this month, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies organized a Senior Leader Seminar which brought together military and civilian leaders from all over Africa to discuss issues related to security. Nouzha Skalli Bennis, member of the PPS, Morocco's former communist party, and municipal counsellor from Casablanca, represented the Democratic Association of Moroccan Women at the conference. he spoke with about her work.........

    Morocco acts on human rights.
Monday, 10 December, 2001, 
King Mohammad of Morocco has announced the creation of a human rights ombudsman.   The announcement was delivered in a message read by his brother,  Prince Moulay Rachid, to mark international human rights day.  The prince said the new post was part of efforts to offer support to  other bodies working to redress injustice and protect liberties.  On Saturday, the Moroccan Human Rights Association published the names of more than 40 senior officials and officers whom it accused of  responsibility for the disappearance of political activists during the1960's and 1970's. 

   Journey to limbo, by way of hell
Sandro Contenta MIDDLE EAST BUREAU. CEUTA, Spain Sep. 9 THE SEA WAS a calm black sheet that summer night when Ghali Hacen and his two comrades stood on a Moroccan beach, stripped down to their underwear and began a three-hour swim toward their dream.

   9 illegal migrants feared drowned off Spain.
Giles Tremlett in Madrid, The Guardian Monday September 10, 2001
The bodies of 13 illegal immigrants who drowned while attempting a clandestine trip across the Straits of Gibraltar to Spain were washed up on a Moroccan beach yesterday, as the search began for 46 others believedto have died after their boat overturned.

   Morocco's king hits back at Spain.
By the BBC's David Bamford in Rabat. Tuesday, 4 September, 2001
The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, has responded vigorously to criticism by Spain that his country is not doing enough to control the hundreds of migrants entering Europe illegally from Morocco.

   Morocco launches 'war on slums'
by David Bamford in Rabat Tuesday, 21 August, 2001,
Morocco's King Mohammed VI has ordered his government to tackle worsening poverty in an attempt to curb the growing shanty towns around the country's main cities.

   Morocco considers Berber rights.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco has promised to set up a body to preserve the language and culture of the country's Berbers, who make up a majority of the population. Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, on the BBC.

   King launches charm offensive: Desire for change could turn into overt political opposition.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco has launched an apparent charm offensive to win over critics to mark the second anniversary this month of his accession to the throne.
By David Bamford in Rabat  Wednesday, 25 July, 2001 on the BBC

   Moroccan woods hide Africa's lost souls.
July 28, 2000. Agence France-Presse Claude Juvenal BEN YOUNECH, Morocco, July 28 (AFP)
Within the green woods that lie inland from Morocco's northern coast, there are signs of life barely visible from the surrounding hills. They are all that can be seen of the illegal immigrants who, in the course of their journey to Europe's promised land, have lost their way in the scrubland.


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