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    Agadir’s Devastating Earthquake

    Casablanca- The earthquake that took place in Agadir in 1960 was the deadliest in Morocco’s history, as around 12,000 were killed.

    Moroccan press recently recalled the tragedy of Agadir on the anniversary of one of the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the Kingdom.

    Daily Al Akhbar casts light on the tragic memory that still haunts many Moroccans today. Many Moroccans lost their lives, and others became homeless, orphans or physically disabled. 

    According to Al Massae, many Moroccans had to travel outside Morocco to benefit from special medical treatments because of their severe psychological shock.

    Ironically, the tragedy was a celebration for other people. While many Moroccans were mourning their dead relatives and material losses, others seized the opportunity to search for any precious properties they could find in the ruins.

    Gangs were formed, and their principal mission was to look for and find other people’s valuable belongings to resell them in other cities. Those people were unmindful of the victims they run across, who were in urgent need for their help.

    Others became even wealthier after the tragedy by constructing large-scale businesses on the ruins of demolished homes. To illustrate this, Al Akhbar tells the story of a poor Moroccan carrier who became a wealthy man after Agadir’s earthquake.

    Al Massae highlights how Agadir’s tragedy was “the break” for other people who exploited the devastating earthquake’s unethically and inhumanly to become wealthy or to double their fortune. 

    The daily newspaper tells the story of a night guard who became the director of a company after he had come across the ruins of Bank Al-Maghrib, a gold mine from which he fully profited.

    After that, the night guard vanished to make his family believe that he was dead, only to reappear later as a wealthy businessman.

    Al Massae also recalls the story of the nurses who inhumanly robbed their vulnerable patients instead of taking care of them.

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    Sa Majesté le Roi Mohammed VI, a accueilli, dimanche (02/03/14), à l?aéroport international Félix Houphouët-Boigny à Abidjan, Son Excellence Alassane Ouattara, Président de la République de Côte d?Ivoire, au cours de la cérémonie de son retour à Abidjan,

    Abidjan- King Mohammed VI welcomed, Sunday at the international airport of Félix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, during his return ceremony to Abidjan, after a period of recovery abroad.

    During this meeting, which was held at the VIP lounge of the airport, the King reiterated his sincere wishes for a speedy recovery and good health to President Ouattara to continue his tireless work for the Ivorian people.

    This welcome reflects the historical, unique and exemplary ties binding the two brotherly countries and the constant will of King Mohammed VI to make of the Moroccan-Ivorian cooperation a model for South-South partnership. It is also part of the strong relations between the two heads of State.

    A warm popular welcome was reserved for President Ouattara on the occasion of his return to his country

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    Mohamed Bahi, Moroccan man who saves a child from drowning in Belgium

    Rabat- Mohamed Bahi, a 69-year old Moroccan living in Belgium jumped into a river to save a child from drowning in Brussels and broke his leg.

    The Belgian media hailed Mohamed Bahi’s brave act, saving the life of the Belgian child from drowning in the Meuse River on Wednesday, calling it an “heroic gesture”.

    Although he is 69 years old, Bahi immediately jumped into the river when he saw a two year old child drowning in the Meuse.

    Mohamed Bahi saved the child’s life, but he broke his leg. In a statement to La Libre, Mohamed Bahi said that he didn’t “think, I just jumped into the water. I caught him and I managed to hang on to the edge”.

    The child, who went home safe on Wednesday, came back with his family to visit his hero in the hospital and thank him for saving his life.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Taroudant, Morocco- The statement made by the Secretary General of the Independence Party Hamid Chabat in a video posted on YouTube on Saturday calling for the adoption of English instead of French as the second official language in Morocco gained widespread popularity among social media users.

    Regardless of the context and political motives that lead the Secretary General to turn his back to the language of the colonizer, which has been enjoying until now an important position in the schools and government of Morocco, I, personally, can only commend the Istiqlal leader’s  brave political statement. I add my voice to that of many Moroccans who saw in Chabat’s announcement a way out of the huge difficulties that paralyze our education and economy.

    As I made clear in a previous article about the French language, French is equal to English, as are all languages of the world, as long as they are used for communication purposes.

    Yet, we have to be pragmatic and strategic in choosing the language that best serves the needs of our society and the challenges of the world today. For this sole reason, English language offers the best opportunities for our education and economy to benefit from the chance to advance and catch up with the developing countries and economics of the world.

    Recent statistics available online show that English is used by 55.5% of all the websites on the internet, while French is used by only 4%.  The figures provided by UNESCO concerning the number of internet users by language show that English users outnumbered other users.

    The Future of English?, a guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century, by David Graddol estimates that “eighty-five percent of international organizations now use English as one of their working languages.” The data provided by Gradol confirms the online statistics that place English as the language of publication par excellence. “English is the most widely used foreign language for book publication: over 60 countries publish titles in English,” the same source added.

    These statistics and reports that call English the language of the future should be taken seriously. The problems that university students in our country face because of a lack of English proficiency when they have to write a research paper is striking evidence of the usefulness of English. Moroccan students, who for many reasons did not study English extensively, during their baccalaureate classes, found it hard to perform well in their university disciplines. Regardless of the courses they take, students at a certain level, require English, especially when conducting research, because the references they need are often in English.

    This is the case for not only science students, but also art and humanities students. I remember how many of my friends at university who were studying Arabic linguistics stuck at their graduating year, because most of the sources about new linguistic theories were exclusively in English. Those who could understand the books written in English were able to come out with new research topics and managed to enroll in graduate programs.

    English dominates universal information resources and provides the largest amount of data in printed and electronic materials. Therefore, to take advantage of the broadest information resources in many fields, namely science and technology, Morocco has to reconsider the position of English. The kingdom is invited more than ever to reinforce the teaching of English in schools and to adopt it as the medium of instruction in science subjects and as the language of business, finance and economics.

    It seems nonsensical to keep our economy, culture and education subjected to those of France, which, some believe, is in decline, while the opportunity to catch up with the global language of business, diplomacy, and technology looms on the horizon.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Casablanca- Is suicide becoming a new social plague in Morocco? After a high-ranking security official committed suicide in Hrawiyin neighborhood in Casablanca last week, a judge committed suicide Monday.

    According to Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum, a judge from El Jadida committed suicide on Monday in Casablanca after he was charged for corruption.

    According to the same source, the judge, who was found dead in his apartment in Casablanca, had already tried to commit suicide by drinking poison two weeks before his death.

    Akhbar Al Yaoum reported that the judge was caught receiving a bribe of MAD 780.000 in Mars 2013. After that, the magistrate started suffering severe depression, which led him to eventually commit suicide, leaving behind two children.

    The judge’s suicide, according to daily Annass, has shocked people who knew him, including his colleagues.

    In the same context, the Ministry of Justice sanctioned two judges in 2013. However, the Ministry refrained from announcing the names of the judges because of the outrageous reactions that a similar list of names had stirred when it was announced in 2012.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Casablanca, Man Chased by 250 People after He Tried to Rape a Child (Copyright, DR)

    Casablanca- Cases of child rape in Morocco have recently become rampant. After a shopkeeper was arrested in Casablanca for rapping two minors, 250 people recently caught a man who attempted to rape a child in Casablanca.

    According to daily Al Massae, a man had attempted to rape a six-year-old child last Monday in Sidi Moumen Neighborhood in Casablanca before he was chased by more than 250 people.

    The crowd unrelentingly chased the suspect, who attempted to run away after he was caught trying to rape a child in a deserted street of Sidi Moumen Neighborhood. 

    The suspect was eventually caught and immediately handed to the police. He subsequently admitted that he was trying to molest the child before the large crowd caught him.

    According to the same source, the child had thought that the suspect was trying to steal his bike, whereas the man’s true intentions were more sinister than that.

    According to Al Massae, the suspect, who is married and father of a daughter, had already been incarcerated for a rape.

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    The plight of neglected animals at Casablanca's Ain Sbaa Zoo

     Rabat- A zoological park is one of the most popular sites frequented by Moroccans on weekends and holidays.  Families head towards the nearest zoo to strengthen their ties with nature.  However, this particular Casablanca zoo has become a hotbed of illegal activities other than just exhibiting and breeding animals.

    Ain Sebaa Zoo in Casablanca is currently in crisis.  Animals are dying from hunger, and retired security guards have built slums that are expanding onto the zoo’s grounds.  In addition, the zoo’s grounds have become a hot spot for late night sexual encounters.

    Every day, visitors bring bread and leftovers to feed the animals who are starving in their cages. Bears fight over the pieces of dry bread that visitors throw at them from time to time.  Monkeys dine on carrots and lions patiently wait for a monkey to die in order to be served as a meal to them.

    While Casablanca’s city council has an annual budget of 1 million MAD just for the food of animals, but it seems that this money  is not spent on those creatures. The zoo contains about 600 types of animals, and the budget is not sufficient to fully cover the needs of the zoo.

    Civil society does not seem to react and the only person who dared to reveal information about the zoo preferred to remain anonymous.  Known only as an activist in Casablanca, he disclosed to Al-Akhbar that, “In the zoo, there is a café where all sorts of drugs are being smoked and used.  It is a club of former prisoners.”

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers


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  • 03/04/14--17:31: How to Piss Off a Moroccan
  • Moroccan couscous (Photo courtesy bewilderedinmorocco)

    Casablanca- Inspired by the series of articles "How to piss off.." published on Matador Network I decided to come up with the "piss off" list for Moroccans. It can't be missed! Living in Morocco for, so far, half a year, I have learned many interesting things about the language, the culture and the people. Here are some tips on what pisses off Moroccans. Use them wisely!

    Note before reading: if you are a narrow-minded, self-proclaimed patriot with an inferior complex and can't see the sarcasm, irony and mock stereotypes, under no circumstances should you read this article.

    1  Say Moroccan food is so so

    I am the realest foodie and Moroccan food simply pampers my taste buds! I love most of the foods here but there are some exceptions. I once made a comment about this thick, green, stinky soup called bisara and I was literally yelled at! When I dared to say that sweet-salty bastilla was disgusting for me I was screamed at! If you wish to hurt the feelings of your Moroccan fellow, go for it and don't appreciate his mother's dinner. It will be the end of your friendship.

    Go mad if they are late

    The old proverb "Westerners have clocks. Arabs have time" says everything and is more than enough in this case! Always take your time, never rush, breathe-in and breathe-out... Thirty minutes late is not the end of the world! Neither sixty is. Chill out and take another tea while waiting. Pick up your laundry, go shopping, check your news feed on Facebook once again, cook a dinner. There is still some time till your friend shows up, well, if he or she shows up.

    And when they finally come, start yelling at them, calling them disrespectful and careless. Brace yourself, your belated friend will come up with a thousand of excuses (traffic jam, flat tire, grumpy boss, burnt dinner, cat's funeral, terrorist attack...). Like the realest storyteller!

    Don’t value Amazigh roots

    Berbers are very proud of their cultural heritage, language and history. You have to know that Amazigh and Arabic languages are completely different in all aspects: words, the accent and even the alphabet. Many people tend to confuse them what makes Moroccans go crazy. No wonder why, I also go crazy when people confuse me with a Russian or Swedish or are surprised when I say that I don't speak Russian and in Poland we have a different language... Remember that your ignorance may be very unpleasant. Once again: use it wisely.

    4  Call Morocco a Middle-Eastern country

    Some blame it on the educational system. I blame it on both; education and human's ignorance. Or rather lack of interest in different cultures. I met many people who asked me where Poland was. Some thought it was in America, some others knew it was somewhere in Europe but the exact localization remained mysterious. It pisses me off. It works the same with Moroccans. (Morocco is often confused with Monaco, therefore many people place it in France instead of North Africa).

    5  Argue about religion

    No arguments with Moroccans when it comes to religion! They know it best. If you're brave enough... Give it a try and see what will happen.

    6  Ridicule a guy in public

    Most of Moroccan men are proud of their manhood. If you try to question it, you push their button! Do it wisely and the guy will remember you for the rest of his life...

    7  Suggest that they are the 3rd world country

    Being located less than 20 kilometers from Spain, Morocco is a bridge between Europe and Africa. Many Moroccans claim that al-Maghrib is just like Europe. No differences, no boundaries. Some other say that it is like Europe... But in the '50s.

    Try to make a comment comparing Morocco to developing countries, third world, communism and stuff like that. A question "do you have Internet?" is a nail in the coffin!

    8  Say "Western Sahara" instead of "Moroccan Sahara"

    If you try to argue about the Sahara you have to brace yourself! Endless arguments, shouting, screaming, yelling and many other attractions waiting for you! Suggest that Sahara has never belonged to Morocco and you'll hit the spot.

    9  Send them this article

    To be taken with a pinch of salt. Cheers!

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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    Rabat- Othman Benjelloun, owner of BMCE Bank, was ranked the richest billionaire in Morocco, followed by Miloud Chaabi, while the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fishing, Aziz Akhenouch, occupied the third place.

    Through his company FinanceCom, Benjelloun, the 81-year- old businessman, has investments in banking, insurance, and telecom in Morocco. His BMCE Bank is one of Morocco's largest banks. Its activities in more than 15 African countries generated 44% of BMCE Bank's earnings last year, according to Forbes magazine.

    According to Forbes’s new World’s Richest Billionaires report, Othman Benjelloun is ranked the top billionaire in Morocco and tenth in Africa's 40 Richest , with a net worth estimated at $2.8 Billion.

    The diversified, self-made businessman, Miloud Chaabi, is the second richest billionaire in Morocco and the 17th in Africa, according to the same report.

    Chaabi began in 1948 by as a housing developer, then expanded through his privately owned Ynna Holding into hotels, supermarkets and renewable energy. Now, his net worth is $1.9 Billion.

    The minister of Agriculture and Marine Fishing, Aziz Akhannouch, is ranked the third richest billionaire in Morocco and the 20th in Africa, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 Billion.

     Aziz Akhannouch debuts on the Forbes Billionaires list this year due to his stake in Akwa Group, a multi-billion-dollar Moroccan conglomerate with interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals through its publicly-traded subsidiaries Afriquia Gas and Maghreb Oxygene, as well as in media, real estate development and hotels, according to Frobes magazine.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    haifae wahbe

    Casablanca- Lebanese diva Haifaa Wahbi seems to have some loyal fans in Morocco. Numerous Moroccans on Twitter have recently demanded that the Egyptian singer be invited to the 2014 Mawazine Festival, Rhythms of the World.

    The hashtag #WeWantHaifaWehbeInMawazine, which was launched by Moroccans on Twitter last month, asks for the same thing: to invite famous Egyptian star Haifaa Wahbi to Morocco’s most celebrated music festival, Mawazine.

    Hafiaa Wahbi has already performed at numerous Moroccan festivals, including the Casablanca Festival and the Jawhara Hayat Festival.

    The Lebanese diva’s Moroccan fans now demand that she participates in Mawazine, one of the most internationally recognized festivals.

    The names of some of the international stars who will perform at the 2014 Mawazine Festival have already been revealed.

    American superstars Jason Derulo and Justin Timberlake are on the list of invitees. The two singers have a huge fan base in Morocco.

    Paul van Haver, better known as Stromae, will also perform in the 13th  Mawazine Festival. Many Moroccans are fans of the Belgian rapper, whose French songs have swept through all Moroccan radio and TV channels. The 13th annual Mawazine Festival will take place in Rabat from May 30th through June 7th, 2014.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    a person commits suicide in Morocco (Photo courtesy

    Casablanca- Yet another suicide in Morocco; this time, the victim was a 25-year-old woman.

    According to news site Le360, a 25-year-old woman committed suicide on Tuesday in Idrad, Tangier.

    According to the same source, the young girl, who had attempted suicide before, jumped off the roof of her house, located in the Maadnouss neighborhood of Tangier. The reasons for her suicide are still undetermined.

    The 25-year-old was not the first young person to commit suicide this year. A 17-year- old boy committed suicide in Khouribga the night before Saint Valentine’s Day.

    The young boy threw himself off the top of Assa Bridge, located in the El Massira Neighborhood of Khouribga.

    Several high-ranking officials and legal representatives have also committed suicide recently. A high-ranking security official was found dead in the Hrawiyin neighborhood of Casablanca after he committed suicide for unknown reasons.

    A judge from El Jadida also committed suicide on Monday in Casablanca after he was charged with corruption.

    Clinical depression, mental disorders, and personal and professional failures seem to be the main reasons behind the recent increase in the number of suicides in Morocco.

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Rabat- Former CEO of Wana corporate Karim Zaz was put on trial on Wednesday March 5th, along with 11 others in Casablanca.

    “Casablanca’s public prosecution arrested Karim Zaz due to a complaint filed by Wana corporate against its former CEO for manipulations of international incoming and outgoing calls in Morocco,” Sahifat Annas reported.

    “The prosecutor in the Casablanca court interrogated Karim Zaz, who was suspected of forming a gang with other staff under investigation,” “he same source added.

    They were charged with crimes punishable by up to 5 years in prison, including manipulating incoming and outgoing calls and complicity in falsification.

    Karim Zaz is also a member of the Moroccan Royal Federation of Football (soccer).

    Edited By Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Assmae Boujibar

    Casablanca- News that Moroccan Asmaa Boujibar was hired by NASA went viral in recent days, with countless news outlets reporting on it and thousands of people sharing it on social media. MWN also reported it, though we noted that Asmaa Boujibar’s name does not appear on NASA's website as an official employee. 

    In our quest for accuracy, we were curious to know for sure if Asmaa Boujibar had joined NASA.After a thorough search, we can confirm that the news reported by Moroccan media was not accurate.

    A source from Washington D.C told MWN that Boujibar is not an employee at the American space agency, but is rather a “potential” post-doctorate intern.

    According to the same source, she is expected to start an internship with NASA this September, but “she is not formally accepted yet.”

    The same source noted that Asmaa would be an intern and not a full employee, one of the more than 300 post docs that NASA receives from around the world every year.

    However, in an interview with news website Medias24, Boujibar said that she was “the first Moroccan woman to join NASA.”

    Boujibar also told Medias24 that she only needed to obtain her doctorate to be fully qualified to join NASA.

    “I haven’t signed my employment contract yet, because I still have to finish my doctorate research,” said Boujibar.

    “At NASA, I will work on the chemical evolution of planets,” she added.

    The 27-year-old Moroccan researcher, who is from northern Morocco, is the daughter of a Moroccan architect, and a Tunisian mother. Asmaa Boujibar studied at Université Blaise Pascal – Clermont-Ferrand II in France.

    She obtained her master’s degree in 2010, after working on a thesis entitled “Study of chemical equilibrium between mantle and core in the context of the formation of terrestrial planets.”

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Sexual Freedom in Morocco and Mass Manipulation. Photo Courtesy of newscafee

    Rabat- Amnesty International’s Morocco branch leads a campaign for government support of women’s sexual freedom on International Women’s Day.

    In a bold move, Amnesty International leads its campaign under the slogan “My body’s rights”, and calls on the government to acknowledge sexual freedom as a part of human rights.

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, this campaign aims to break the wall of silence around sexual freedom, sensitizing Moroccan women to their rights so that they will advocate for them.

    According to the same source, Amnesty International Morocco director Mohamed Sektaoui stated that the organization asks the government to “include sexual freedom in its criminal code reforms, and acknowledge it as a part of human rights.”

    He added “sexual relations outside of marriage must not be considered a crime punishable by law.” He explained that “this hampers the achievement of sexual freedom”.

    The campaign strives to ensure sexual freedom for Moroccan women, and to encourage youth to demand their right to make their sexual choices freely, without any fear.

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    Over a thousand Athletes to Participate in the 29th Marathon des Sables

    Rabat-Over a thousand Athletes to Participate in the 29th Marathon des Sables.

    The marathon organizing committee reported that over 1,079 athletes representing approximately 45 countries will take part in the 29th annual “marathon des sables,” which will take place from April 4th to 14th in southern Morocco.

    Gathering the biggest athletes in the world, the 29th “le Marathon des Sables”, or Marathon of the Sands will attract more than one thousand competitors to the Moroccan Sahara. 

    According to Moroccan daily newspaper Assabah, the participants in the marathon will represent various age brackets, from 16 to 76, and diverse professions, including doctors, professional athletes, business managers, students, and retirees.

    Marathon manager Patrick Bauer said that the 29th marathon will feature “the participation of 165 women”.

    Enjoying the diversity of the Moroccan landscape, the athletes will run in 250 km in six stages through the most beautiful Moroccan topography, including mountains, oases and desert.

    This event aims to highlight the beauty and natural wealth of southern Morocco for thousands of runners and millions of T.V. viewers worldwide.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

     © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Casablanca- According to news website Le360, a homeless woman was found dead in Tangier because of the cold weather there.

    A homeless woman was found dead in Tangier last Wednesday, March 12. The cause of her death was the city’s very cold weather.

    According to the same source, the homeless woman apparently did not have anything to cover herself with against the bitter cold reining over the streets of Tangier at night.

    The homeless woman was found wrapped in a plastic bag, which she might have used to warm herself against the cold.

    Her picture, which has gone viral on Moroccan social networks, has touched the hearts of many Moroccans, who have called for an urgent help for the homeless people who are exposed to harsh weather conditions in Morocco’s coldest streets.

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    Rabat- Nador’s Commerce and Industry Chamber has launched a unique industrial park called “Salouane” in Nador in partnership with the developer-planner of the national industrial parks, Med Z, with the aim of supporting young developers.

    Nador’s Commerce and Industry Chamber (CCISN) presented the “Salouane” project to Moroccan and Spanish investors detailing the offer in terms of its value and infrastructure at an information day held on Thursday.

    According to Moroccan daily L’Économiste, Salouane is a unique project in Morocco, because it is the first time a state’s business Chamber has taken part in the capital of a private company.

    In an innovative partnership, the developer-planner of the national industrial parks, Med Z, and the CCISN created the development company of the industrial park, Salouane (SAPS). More specifically, the company’s capital is estimated at 70 million DH with 68% held by Med Z and 32% by CCISN.

    According to the same source, the park will house a Business Incubator Center whose mission is to offer support for young developers and various start-ups.

    The park will make available 200 containers for rent, limited to three years, to benefit a large number of developers’ projects. It will also include production facilities, and modular offices.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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    Mbarka Bouaida, Morocco’s Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs & Cooperation

    Rabat-  Morocco has undertaken a series of major reforms to strengthen the principles of fairness and gender equality, said Friday in Rabat, Minister-delegate for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mbarka Bouaida.

    "The integration of the gender equality is reflected in real actions, measures and provisions through strategies, programs and action plans, and on several levels," she said on the occasion of the celebration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the United Nations in Morocco of International Women's Day.

    The issue of human rights has led, over the past two decades, to "unprecedented interest in Morocco," Bouaida said, noting Morocco's keenness to promote the issue of women's rights.

    For Minister of Solidarity, Women and Social Development, Bassima Hakkaoui, Morocco, with its democratic and constitutional achievements, works to consolidate the integration of the gender approach in public policies.

    For her part, Representative of UN Women in the Maghreb, Leila Rhiwi, said the organization of this event, on the occasion of the International Women's Day, reflects the strong determination of Morocco for the promotion and protection of women's human rights, a commitment reaffirmed in 2011 with the adoption of a constitution that can be considered a pioneer in the region in terms of gender equality.

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    Ali Anouzla's detention

    By Ahmed Chaoui

    Washington DC— The issue of freedom of the press remains a touchy subject for the Moroccan government. Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) criticism of Rabat’s press record has touched a raw nerve with local officials.

    RSF’s “2013 World Press Freedom Index “ ranking Morocco 136 out of 179 countries, just ahead of Ethiopia and well below Algeria and Afghanistan, was widely denounced as unfair and inaccurate. In a fiery reply, Morocco's Communications Minister Mustapha Khalfi decried RSF evaluation methods in determining the ranking.

    While there is no “assault against press freedom” in the Kingdom, the Moroccan authorities have targeted certain journalists and publications for there “unfavorable coverage”.  Yet, to rank Morocco 136 is too harsh and dilute some of the recently enjoyed press freedoms. Unfortunately, Mr. Khalfi’s remarks did not cover specific cases and avoided the delicate “Anouzla case”.

    As observers predicted, the decision to persecute the editor of the website, Ali Anouzla, under the anti-terrorism law came back to bite Moroccan officials. As RSF stated, there is “an independent press and the number of titles has increased rapidly in recent years, creating a degree of pluralism” but questions remain about the degree of freedom these outlets enjoy.

    The persecution of Anouzla has sent chills up the spines of Moroccan independent journalists. Under such duress, some independent columnists either self-exiled in Europe and the United States or went to writing hiatus. Rather than facing criminal charges or defamation suits, some of the country’s boldest essayists have either stopped writing or drastically reduced their contributions. The now defunct “Le Journal Hebdomadaire” is a prime example of such tactics.

    As a result of the Moroccan authorities’ attempts to silence “unconventional” media outlets, Morocco suffers a lack of publications with distinct and diverse ideas and opinions. It is hard to find extensive investigative reporting or in-depth critical writings about the political system in the Kingdom.

    Articles criticizing Prime Minster Benkiran and his government are abundant and don’t generate a buzz anymore. The Moroccan public is turning numb to stories about “low level” corruption and ministerial miss-management. On the other hand, readers are hungry for debates around the machineries that make the most critical decisions in the country.

    The conditions for managing “free journalism” are difficult in Morocco. To have healthy debates and to counter extremism, independent journalists must not fear a state sponsored witch hunt whenever they approach delicate subjects.

    Moroccan government decision to arrest and jail Anouzla played a major role in RSF pronouncement to rank the Kingdom in the bottom of its list. In fact, this incident continues to cast a long shadow over Morocco’s record on human and civil rights.

    RSF was excessive in placing the Kingdom in such low ranking. However, the press rights organization was correct in asking the Moroccan authorities to strike prison sentences from Article 41 of the press law and to stop using “financial penalties to keep the most outspoken media in line. RSF noted that “the press was more often threatened with excessive fines than with prison sentences against journalists.”

    Ahmed Chaoui  – –is a  freelance journalist based in Washington DC. Mr. Chaoui is native of Meknes, Morocco. He received a Masters in communications from the University of Maryland. Ahmed worked as a political adviser for several Non-Governmental Organizations in the Washington DC area.

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

    © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    Five of King Mohammed VI’s Bodyguards Sanctioned for “Professional Blunders”

    Casablanca- Five of HM King Mohammed VI’s personal bodyguards were sent back to the Royal Institute of Police in Kenitra for “professional blunders” during the monarch’s visit to Cote D'Ivoire.

    According to the daily Moroccan newspaper Assabah, five of the bodyguards who had accompanied the Moroccan sovereign during his recent visits to neighboring African countries were sanctioned for professional misconduct.

    According to the same source, the sanctioned bodyguards committed professional blunders during King Mohammed VI’s visit to the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire.

    The five guards worked under the command of Jaidi Aziz, head of the Security Department of the Royal Palace, who is also assumed to be among the bodyguards who were sanctioned.

    Many rumors have circulated concerning the absence of Jaidi among the team of bodyguards who were supposed to accompany the King to Mali.

    Some rumors  say that Jaidi might have returned to Morocco because of health issues.

    According to Assabah, the National Security Directorate, led by Bouchaib Rmail, may have sent Jaidi back to his home in Rabat instead of subjecting him to the same sanctions as the other four bodyguards.

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