Archive for April, 2008

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Moroccans Don’t Read The Coran!

April 27, 2008

According the latest investigation on Moroccans and Religious values, initiated by three famous Moroccan researchers: Mohamed El Aydi, Hassan Rachik, and Mohamed Tozy 60% of the Moroccan population have never read Coran before!
I wanted to share with you the outcomes of this research because I’ve found it very interesting, and I was personally choked to notice how incoherent Moroccans can be towards their religion. In fact only 5.6% of Moroccans read Coran everyday, 28.1% read it from time to time, and 58.9% have never read Coran. Well, I can situate my self with the 28%, but I couldn’t believe that even with our strict Islamic educational manuals which impose on us to learn by heart many Sourat and the traditional religious education in the countryside, 60% of the population still have never read their holy book. Probably the statistics are the same in a county like France regarding the bible-readers. Yet, France is a secular country whereas we are an Islamic county if we believe our constitution. Moreover, religious symbols are everywhere: mosques, clothing, education, Imarat Al Muminin…
In the same investigation, 40% of Moroccans think that even if you don’t fast during Ramadan you are still considered as Muslim. 57% disapprove mixed beaches, so maybe I’d better not go swim with a bikini this summer. 83% of the interviewed Moroccans think that women should wear a veil, so I really shouldn’t go swim with a bikini this summer. However, 84% of the population disapproves Takfiir! I feel released, because even if I swim with a bikini and even if most people wouldn’t like it but I would still be seen as a proper Muslim girl!
In addition, more than 99.9% of Moroccan thinks that Islam is the best religion ever and that there is an answer for everything in the Coran, starting from the social organization to the political, economic, and even technological matters. I just wonder why don’t they read Coran so often if there is an answer to everything in its pages? Well, maybe I should go read Coran right now to find an answer to this issue!
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Find Your Voice

April 17, 2008

Find Your Voice:
A Cross-Cultural Forum on Political Participation and Civic Activism

Rabat, Morocco
April 25-26, 2008
Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), along with the Institut National de la Jeunesse et la Démocratie (INJD), are organizing a conference for youth leaders and youth activists in Morocco under the name of: “Find Your Voice: A Cross-Cultural Forum on Political Participation and Civic Activism.”

This two-day conference will be a multilingual dialogue on the necessity of youth mobilization in the political process and empowering emerging leaders in political parties and civil society. Bringing together Moroccan and American experts on media, political party participation, youth mobilization and citizen journalism, participants will engage the speakers in debate, hold small group discussions, and partake in youth mobilization workshops. The participants will also develop and ratify policy recommendations to be presented to government representatives.

Topics will include:

Space for youth in political parties
The role of civil society
Media and democracy
Youth mobilization through citizen journalism

The conference will take place in Rabat, Morocco from April 25-26, 2008. American and Moroccan students and young professionals are encouraged to apply. We seek an ideologically and geographically diverse group of participants. Space is limited, and up to 50 participants will be chosen by a competitive application process.

Lodging and most meals will be provided to participants. Participants are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from the conference. A limited number of modest travel scholarships are available for highly qualified applicants.

For more information go to www.pomed.org or contact rabatconference@pomed.org.

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The Communist Minister of the his Majesty

April 8, 2008

The Moroccan Minister of Social Welfare Nezha Squalli is taking off her politically-correct face and unveiling her hardcore communist face. In fact Nezha Squalli shamelessly asked for the banishment of the call for prayer of Al Fajr, because she claims that it is disturbing the wellbeing of the foreign tourists during their exotic staying in Morocco.

Well, I would just remind Madame Squalli, that she belongs to a government of an Islamic country and she is “for the moment” the Minister of Amir Al Mu’minin the Prince of the Faithful. Therefore, asking the Minister of Islamic Affairs Ahmed Ataoufik to find a legal way to ban the call of prayer not to disturb tourists is an insult to the high symbols of this nation. Furthermore, the tourists coming to Morocco are supposed to respect the local customs, as Moroccans would do for the Bell rings in Christian countries.

Maybe the Minister, who was a militant of the Moroccan Communist Party, still believes deep-inside that “Religion is the Opium of the People”. Yet, the outrageous thing about this story is that the PPS, the Party of Progress and Socialism is defending their Minister and calling the Press to stop judging Nezha Squalli. For their pat the Islamist movements inside Morocco as well as the more traditionalist streams of the Moroccan Civil Society are calling the Minister to submit her resignation as soon as possible, because she don’t represent the Moroccan population.

From My side I would kindly advice our dear Minister to look to her face in the mirror and ask herself who is she? Since, if a Minister in the government of his Majesty still struggles with her religious identity how can she be an example for the rising generations?

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The Real Faces Of Life

April 8, 2008

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Diaries Of A Young Pen: I Do Not Tolerate, I Care

April 6, 2008

When I was packing my bags to go to the Catalonia, Spain to the Euro- Med training on Gender and Religion, I was wondering if it’s not just some other futile training full of theory and which never come up with any practical projects or achievements. Well I was wrong!

During the training course Jews, Christians, Muslims, and non-believers had to live, travel, work and party together for 10 days in the Comarruga Youth Hostel. We all came with our education, our religious backgrounds, our stereotypes, and methods of work. Yet, the 23 participants from all over the Meditareenian Sea were all ready to learn and to tolerate people from other confessional roots.

The fourth day we went in a field trip to Tarragona to visit the various religious communities there. Guess what, there was no Jewish community in this old Roman marvellous city because of the 15th century hatred, whereas the strong Muslim community is still struggling to build a mosque for its believers. Spain is a secular country according to its constitution. Yet, the state still supports the Church by giving 8% of the taxes’ incomes to the Catholic Christian Church. In addition, Spain still seems much occupied by its bloody past full of Judaic & Islamic phobia of the early Catholic Kings of Spain.

Michael, Paulo and I weren’t affected by this Spanish mood. A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim succeeded in becoming friends very easily during this training course. Micha is a Russian Jew who left his family in Moscow at the age of 16 to go to Israel living in a Kibbutz and serving 3 years in the Israeli Army. He is now a traditional and modern Judaic jewellery designer in Jerusalem waiting for the Devine call to become a committed Religious Jew. Paulo was born in Roma in Italy, with a balcony on the Vatican and the sounds of thousands of bells ringing all over the place. Paulo even shacked-hands with the formal Pope John Paul II when he was a child, but since he is a social sciences graduates Erasmus student, he just decided to question his given dogma and travel around the world looking for Secular answers instead of Religious ones. As regards me, I was born in a conservative Moroccan Muslim family. I discovered other religions very early, and have chosen to remain a very spiritual Muslim out of conviction. My studies of journalism, diplomacy and communication thought me how to be very politically correct with people different than me without really caring about them.

In this training we were just three human beings willing to learn and go forward. Micha was sharing with us his stories in the army when he caught a 9 years old Palestinian kamikaze. Paulo was telling us that he sees the bible as a literature book and questions the nature of the Christ. When, I was telling them how important for me to stay Virgin until marriage because of my belonging to the Prophet Mohammed’s genealogical tree. We were so different in education, faith and hopes, yet, we all enjoyed heavy metal songs, the smell of tobacco or extra olive oil on our meals.

In one of the simulations of the course, each of us has to play a role other than his real life’s role. I had to be the representative of a very conservative party. I’ve had to stand against the building of a Muslim mosque in Spain. After the simulation was over; I felt very bad because for few hours I had to be the persecutor of my own community especially that many Moroccan immigrants in Europe suffer from the same right wing discourse everyday. I discovered how hatred is easy and how tolerance and acceptance is hard to reach as far as religious issues are concerned.

By Tomorrow I’ll be back in my country, where I am surrounded of Muslims everywhere and where the Media and the different ideological discourses are the only resource to discover people from other religions. Nevertheless, this time I’ll be taking with me in my bags the souvenir of three friends from different backgrounds who learned to tolerate each other, to accept each other as we are, to coexist for 10 days in peace, and above all to care about one another. This caring is the main achievement one can get as a human being.

* This article is a MEYI property (http://www.shababinclusion.org)

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The Moroccan Monkey

April 6, 2008

Everybody knows the story of the three Japanese Wise Monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil). Well let me tell you the story of a young journalist, who feels like that monkeys. Yet, this Monkey seeks no wisdom. She just feels that her senses are being paralyzed by too much frustration in a Middle Eastern country called Morocco.

I CAN’T SEE. In my country we have only two TV channel, and both are controlled by the state. There are people I don’t like to see, like the characters they show on TV who look like living on another planet. There are people I would like to see, like the political leaders or my municipality civil servants. Unfortunately, these people sit on desks situated in very high towers which my sight can’t reach. And there are things I’m forced to see, like the thousands of doctorate holders protesting in front of the parliament, the poor youth being brain-washed trying to bomb them selves, or many others who venture on the Mediterranean Sea risking their lives to make a living.

I CAN’T HEAR. I’ve grown up in the middle of the Economic crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. We had no music of our own then. We used to listen to music made by other people to other people. I live in a place where we hear rumours all the time, because we are somehow afraid of the truth. Sometimes I hear machines and constructions around. However, even deaf; I can still understand that these houses and infrastructures are not for me, but for wealthy people who can pay for it.

I CAN’T SPEAK. My tongue is chained by three chains called: Religion, Patria, Monarchy. I can shout on strikes, on football games, or on public markets, but what can I have to say if I can’t speak about the main components of my identity, as noted in our constitution: Islam, Morocco, and the King.

The Moroccan Monkey is handicapped in his senses. Still, he has a heart full of hope, honour and ambition. With his heart he can see him self in the mirror of reality, hear the hymn of change and shout loud for glory!

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Who is the Elephant and who is the Donkey?

April 6, 2008

The Moroccan people are a bit different than the rest of the Middle East in terms of International relations. For example, International news has a very small place in our Press and TV. People don’t really care about what is happening. They are becoming more like Western people who are busy making a living. Yet, Moroccans still react sometimes when there is a psychological geography feeling with some countries like Palestine or Iraq. However, the 24 hours channels hammered a lot these subjects to the point that everyone sees these conflicts now as daily routine. Even in universities, we still don’t have strong International Relations’ departments or analysts, like the Egyptians or the Palestinians. In this mix, Moroccan young public opinion is still very reactive instead of well informed.

Even if the US Elections are very crucial for Morocco, Young Moroccans don’t seem really to distinguish between Democrats and Republicans or Donkeys and Elephants, apart from some rare elite or International Studies’ students. Morocco needs the US support not only in its big battle for the Sahara issue but in all development and military affairs now on. Therefore, the modern Moroccan kingdom is still more concerned about what’s going on in France more than what’s going on in the US. I have even experienced a fever of enthusiasm among the supporters of Sarkozy and Royal during the French 2007 elections. I may suggest that the Transformational Diplomacy of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hasn’t been well implemented in Morocco. One can just visit the US Embassy’s web site http://www.usembassy.ma/ to notice that nothing have been done to inform the average Moroccan about the US elections! The truth is, the revolutionary diplomacy of Rice about going to the normal people and explaining to them what is happening, and making diplomats like field people, is nothing but wonderful dreams.

I really think, it would be good if I can make a small opinion poll among Moroccan youth on the US elections battle. From what I know and have been discussing with my friends, Moroccans favour the Clinton family. Hilary Clinton has good ties with Morocco. She even created in my University a Centre for Women Empowerment which operates in the Atlas region http://www.aui.ma/VPAA/hrcwec/index.htm. Hilary Clinton also received an honorific Master degree for her work. Moreover, Bill Clinton has a reputation of a man of peace in the Moroccan mind after what he did in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ex-president visited Morocco and was the architect of the free trade agreement between the two countries, whereas, President Bush just sent a letter of apology to the Moroccan king for not being able to come to Morocco in his Middle East tour.

Yet, the US has impregnated for the last years an image of a “Macho” & a “Racist” state. Therefore, I often hear my peers saying that “even if Americans look very democratic, but they are still a patriarchal conservative state, which won’t allow a woman to rule them”. Furthermore, young Moroccans also may tend to think that Americans won’t accept an afro-American president like Obama, even with Operah’s support.

From another perspective, young Moroccans are big consumers of the American film industry. Thus, American serials like “24 Hours” or “Commander in Chief” have contributed to make the idea of having a female or an afro-American president of the World’s greatest power more acceptable for the world’s mass.

Waiting for the Transformational Diplomacy’s revolution http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/59306.htm to gain more concern about the American political matters, the young Moroccan is still in general lost between the Elephant and the Donkey. But to be fairer with the Moroccan public opinion, let’s wait and see how the mass will react on the elections’ eve once they have more information.