Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria’


Horror on the Desert Road

November 14, 2013

‘’Nawarty Masr’’ said the driver, holding my name in a piece of paper and waiting for me at terminal 3 of Cairo airport. He probably thought that I am a tourist coming from Casablanca and excited to discover the wonders of the land of the pharaohs. ‘’is it your first time in Egypt?’’ he asked me while putting the baby’s stroller on the back of the agency’s Hyundai. ‘’I lived in Egypt for 4 years now’’ I replied tiredly as I wanted to put an end to the conversation since I just had a hell of a 5 hours flight with a sick 5 months baby who didn’t stop vomiting on me. At that moment I didn’t suspect that the real horror was still waiting for me on the road.

Finally, I was in a car holding my sleeping baby and relaxing, while thinking of nothing but a hot bath and a comfortable bed after a fruitful mission in my home country: Morocco. After one hour stuck in Cairo’s famous jam, Hussein the driver said desperately looking for some kind of conversation to kill the time ‘’who did you vote for Madame?’’, ‘’I am not Egyptian, I don’t vote, and you who did you vote for’’ I replied carelessly just not to ignore him. ‘’I voted for Mursi as he is the best among the worse’’.

I was half asleep, at 00:30h 5 kilometres before the gates of Alexandria, when all of a sudden a light blue Chevrolet Optra with no car plates came out of nowhere of the you-turn and tried to hit our car. In the beginning, I didn’t realise what was happening to us and thought it must be some drunk young men heading to the north coast. Then the car hit us again and came right in front of us and stopped suddenly. We went straight into the strange car, and the sock woke up the baby and made the driver shout loudly ‘’Thugs! Thug!’’. The brave Hussein, drove the car with all its speed backward and made some Hollywoodian manipulation and went towards two trucks which were on the Cairo – Alex desert road. Meanwhile, our aggressors didn’t give up, seeing that there was only the driver and I in the Hyundai. They came on our right and started hitting us again trying to get us outside the main road. At that moment, my eyes crossed the eyes of the Optra’s driver. Cold evil eyes of a dark skin man who has many scars on his face as a witness of a criminal past. He was holding a firearm and knocking on his ride’s window asking us to poll out of the road and stop. Seeing the gun and the scary faces of the two ‘’Baltagiya’’ on that Chevrolet, I had the reaction of holding tight my baby and getting down under the seats, as the first thing that came to my mind was the possibility that they might start shooting our tires if we don’t stop.

I don’t know how many minutes I spent under that seat, but for me time was frozen, and I was looking at my baby and thinking: what if they shoot him? What if they rape me? I started trying to remember the valuable things I have in my luggage to offer them in order to convince them not to kill us. I thought of my friend Karim who got stopped on this same road by thugs who stole all his goods, his car, and even the coins of money on his pocket. Yet, I am not Karim, I am a woman with a baby, and when it happens to someone else no matter how close he is it’s not the same when it happens to you. I also remembered when I was in Rio with my friend Majd, when a men holding a M16 raised on the highway and started shooting, and how our driver laughed at us and said ‘’ it’s normal! welcome to Brazil!’’ while deviating him with his bullet proof taxi. 

Hussein’s voice interrupted my scared thoughts when I heard him saying ‘’you can come up Madame, I can see Alexandria’s gates’’, as if Alexandria’s gates were the doors of paradise where the deliverance from our nightmare was waiting for us. I was still under chock and the tears fiercely came down my frightened pale face. Hussein, him was shouting ‘’we deserve El Adly, I regret voting for Mursi. I should have voted for Shafik! This f…… country needs security!’’.

At Alexandria’s gates, we stopped at the police checkpoint and told the officer about the description of the car and what happened to us hoping that they will send a patrol to get the Baltagiya. In the contrary, the officer stared at us and said carelessly ‘’this happens often. We know these thugs. It’s normal’’ I prefer abstaining from saying what I think of that officer because the problem is way bigger than what happened to me, and I chose to tell the story as it happened without side comments or analysis, because it doesn’t need any.

We headed to Alexandria where our loved ones were waiting for us to get back safe. We didn’t pay attention that we left the radio on during the entire incident, where a nationalistic song was singing ‘’you are the dear Oh my country! And you are the most beautiful Oh my country! If things get bad, we will fix them, and if things get wrong, we will sing for you. Oh my country! Oh my country!’’.


I am a Prostitute, a Witch, a Drug Addict, a Zionist

August 29, 2010

Today I woke up with a BBC Tweet that says “Arab Drama continue to depict a negative image of Moroccan women during Ramadan series”. I am not surprised by this attitude as I have been facing it since I started travelling in the Middle East many years ago, but this time I decided to do a small test. I took my phone and call randomly 10 different Arab friends from different countries to ask one simple question: 

Friend N˚1 Egypt: “You know in Alexandria we love Hash and everyone knows that the Moroccan Hash is the best. I always dream to go to Morocco to try it firsthand, and off course you have very very beautiful liberal girls (very liberal in Egypt mean Prostitute)”

Friend N˚2 Jordan: “You are very famous with the Couscous, the belly dancers, and you have a king like us but you kiss his hand!”

Friend N˚3 Syria: “Morocco is known for Magic craft, they say you have the best sheikhs ever who can solve anything. You have nice jewelry and lots of problems with the poor people of the Western Sahara”

Friend N˚4 Saudi Arabia: “You should educate your girls, they are all, I am sorry to say that, acting against God and against Islam and many of them are prostitutes. But I am fun of your traditional cloths and of your skills in Magic. How do you do that? Do you get any special education on Magic Craft?”

Friend N˚5 Palestine: “You sent us many Jews and frankly speaking and don’t take it personally, you are a country which support Zionism and you stand against the right of people to determine their fate in Western Sahara”

And it went on and on and on…

Nothing surprising about the reactions I received especially that I chose people who don’t know me very well and who ignore that I can get very irritated about the image of my country when it comes to exaggerated stereotypes. The truth is that I tried to stay very diplomatic all this years while explaining how much Morocco is an amazing country and that what they talk about are cultural aspects  of the Moroccan identity blablablabla. Today I decide not to be diplomatic anymore and to respond to what they accuse us of: 

I am a Prostitute

From my boyfriend who thinks I am constantly cheating on him, to all the taxi drivers who sexually harass me when they know I am Moroccan, to the police men in Jordan airport who refused that I enter the country because Morrocan females under 34 are considered public danger, to the men who come at night nock on my hotel door during civil society events hoping that I will open with a red underwear and invite them to come in. I say wake up and see the reality! 

Moroccan women are more honorable than many oriental manipulative little girls who practice superficial sex, anal sex to preserve their virginity and bay a Chinese spear virginity in case they lose it, and still they will act like virgin Mary “Achraf mini Echaraf Mafiich”. At least we are honest, we assume our bodies. If we choose to be virgin until marriage it is a free choice and if we choose to lose it we don’t find ourselves a corrupted gynecologist to sew it. We don’t hide behind tiny veils and wear the “Spanish” hijjab with a mini skirt, tight leggings and 5 kilos of makeup. When we choose to wear the veil it is in general by conviction and decent, and when we choose to show our golden bodies we show them proudly as a master piece.

Many people who make all this fuzz about Moroccan prostitutes, never met a Moroccan girl before in their lives and when they do they die out of frustration to date her of marry her. I toured very well in the Arab region to say that every country have its prostitutes and some countries even have neighborhoods full of prostitutes mostly local ones, not to mention the famous 5 km Al Haram Street with all the beautiful belly dancing shops.

I don’t want to be vulgar or to hurt anyone. I know that most Arab women in all Arab country are very brave, proud, beautiful, respectful mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. As I personally met many Moroccan prostitutes in the planes to Gulf countries seeking for jobs. So this is just warning to think about the stereotypes you have about us, and after all there are 17 million Moroccan women in the world, do you know them all?

I am a Witch

Not mentioning that no one in my family or direct friends in Morocco believe even in Magic Craft. I just want to say that most probably the people I meet in the Arab world know much more about the subject than my whole town. I have been asked many times by colleagues, friends and even by my hair dresser to bring them strange staff that I don’t know even how to pronounce!

During my whole international career, I heard rumors about me that I made a special spell on my boss to get promoted, that I wear a special magical square to attract men, and that I read a special prayer to make people obey me! The reality is that I have been bleeding without reason for two years, have been unlucky in love, and jumping from one job to another without reason… so if I know the way to cure all this I would have done it longue time ago, and even if I know it I will not because of my faith in God and in the fact that certain boundaries should not be crossed in metaphysics.

We do have schools to teach Magic Craft supported by the state like “Sidi Zouin”, we do have saints that are known to control humans and djins like “Bouya Omar”, we are still a land where miraculous healings happen and where people are very superstitious. Yet, this is nothing but the traces of the paganistic believes and Jewish mysticism before Islam. Magical symbols are living with us in our carpets, jewelry and furniture like in any important civilization. As the Egyptians are proud of their pyramids and hieroglyphs (which are magical by the way), we as well we try to keep some of our heritage alive.

I am a Drug Addict

No one can deny that Moroccan Hash is the best from the US to the Nederland and from Alexandria to Istanbul, nor that we are a mass producing country of this strong hallucinogen, but this doesn’t mean that we consume it with our mothers’ milk since birth, and that it is available everywhere on the closest Carrefour supermarket. 

What people ignore is that we are far more open minded about consuming alcohol than about consuming Hash, except from in some town in the north where the Chira Plant that produces Hashish is more or an ancestral agriculture like any other. 

My grandfather is 67 years old and he used to work in the police and he told me that he never saw hash in his life until 1976 when they arrested some drug dealers. At the same time in secondary school I saw myself some of my classmates eating a chocolate mixed with Hash called “Lma3joun”, but this doesn’t make it socially accepted or a normal product to use in everyday’s life.

I am Zionist

Yes we used to be a Jewish kingdom under Al Kahina until the arrival of Islam, Yes we had an important Ashkenazi and Sephardim Jews, Yes 20% of Israel’s Jews are Moroccans, but what does that really mean? All Arab countries had a Jewish community, people who were born and grow up in that country and didn’t knew any other until they chose to leave or were kicked out like dirty pigs. And just for your information out of 30 millions of the Moroccan population there is only 10.000 Moroccan Jews left. And we are very proud of our compatriots from the Jewish confession like other Arab countries are proud of their Christian compatriots (which we don’t have by the way).

A big confusion between being Jewish and being Zionist exist in the mind of Arabs with a sparkle of conspiration theory. Even if Moroccan Jews who choose to stay in Morocco are all against Zionism and many of them in official meetings declare supporting the Palestinian cause.

What is even more choking about this is the fact that we are labeled of a betrayal we didn’t even participate in! We don’t even have diplomatic relations with Israel, not like many Arab states who have Embassies and military and diplomatic representation. Most of the people in Egypt for example ignore that the fruits they are eating this Ramadan is made in Israel and the flowers they are offering on Valentine’s day are made in Israel.

I know we are geographically very far (it takes me halve ½ hour to go to Spain and 5 hours to come to Cairo), we are also emotionally far as I care more about the elections in France than I care about the successor of Hosni Mubarak, but still we have common history, common language. We watch your series during Iftar and you eat our couscous with sugar during Suhur. So why don’t we concentrate on the common and confess that we both were wrong. You didn’t make an effort to understand our culture, and we were too busy to impress the west that we forgot our Arab soul.