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Morocco News meets the World

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    Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife (Photo courtesy The Independent)

    Rabat- Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife are facing a legal battle after their housekeeping staffer, who is a Moroccan Jew, filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming he “was mistreated and verbally abused by the Israeli leader's wife, Sara,” according to the the Independent.

    Meni Naftali, the former chief steward of Netanyahu's official residence, is suing the Israeli Prime Minister over the ‘‘unbridled outbursts’’ of his wife, Sara, according to The Independent.

    In the lawsuit, Naftali said that he was repeatedly subjected to abusive language, including an ethnic slur, by Sara Netanyahu during his 20 months on the job. “He is seeking around £110,000 in damages,” The Independent reported.

    Naftali said that Sara once told him, “We are Europeans, we are delicate. We don’t eat so much like you Moroccans. You are stuffing us and then, when they photograph us abroad, we look fat.

    Recounting his experiences, Naftali said that the Israeli first lady made him 18 hours a day, including at night, adding that no matter how hard he worked to met the Prime Minister’s wife’s demands, he was treated  with an “arrogant and demeaning behavior.”  

    “The Prime Minster’s wife woke me at 3am after a grueling day of work and with loud shouting reprimanded me for buying milk in bags and not cartons,”he was quoted by the same source as saying.

    Nanftali reported that PM Netanyahu has supported his wife, stating that whenever he “protested about the hour and the tone, the Prime Minister intervened and demanded I do all Mrs. Netanyahu requested so that she would ‘calm down’.”

    PM Netanyahu’ office described the charges as “evil gossip”, explaining that Naftali “was violating the couple’s privacy ‘in order to sully them with the intention of extracting money illegally from the Prime Minister’s office’”.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    Morocco and Israel flags

    Casablanca- Moroccan associations known for their hostility towards Israel have recently called upon the Head of the government, Mr. Benkirane, to criminalize any Moroccans who visit Tel Aviv of “spying for the enemy.”

    The announced visit of Amazigh activists to Israel has seemingly outraged Moroccan opponents of the normalization of relations with the Hebrew state.

    At a press briefing on Thursday in Rabat, activist Khalid Sufiyani and his supporters firmly denounced the said visit to Israel. He called on the Moroccan government to charge any Moroccan who enters Israel with "joining the enemy.”

    According to news website Yabiladi, the same opponents of normalization with Israel said that any Moroccan who visit to Israel “should be considered a ‘spy’ working for Israeli secret services.”

    The anti-normalization associations have also called on the Ministry of Justice and Freedoms and the ministry of Interior to “proceed immediately to investigate statements attributed to supporters of reconciliation with Israel,” according to the same source.

    These associations believe that those statements would “seriously jeopardize Morocco's sovereignty and stability ".

    These same anti-normalization associations have allegedly threatened to divulge, on March 30, 2014 (Palestinian Land Day), a list of Moroccan individuals and companies who cooperate with Israel. Moroccan Observatory against Normalization is expected to hold a meeting the same day.

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

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    banks of morocco

    Taroudant- Morocco’s BMCE and BCP banks are preparing to launch Islamic subsidiaries, according to Reuters. This announcement comes two months after the Islamist-led Moroccan government adopted a bill regulating Islamic banks and sukuk. The draft law, which still needs the approval of the parliament, will pave the way establishing Islamic bank in the kingdom. A national committee composed of Islamic scholars and financial experts will be created in order to ensure the control of the legitimacy of these transactions, and whether instruments and activities of the institution complied with sharia principles.

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    Morocco, Despair Leads a Man To Offer Himself Up For Sale

    Rabat- After spending half a month in a continuous sit-in,a Moroccan citizen offered himself up for sale on Saturday at “Almassira”yard in  Beni Mellal, Morocco.

    In an unprecedented and unusual move, a Moroccan citizen staged a new sort of protest against worsening social conditions in Morocco and his inability to make an adequate living to provide for his small family by offering himself up for public sale.  The man hung a sign around his neck and posted banners on the fence behind him saying For Sale in Arabic.

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, the man, identified as Mustafa Bouadoud offered himself up for sale in Almassira’’yard, downtown in Beni Mellal city, after the local authorities refused to find a solution for his harassment case.

    Mustafa Bouadoud was a street hawker, selling merchandise in Almassirayard before the local authorities seized his goods, the familys only money source.

    According to the same source, Bouadoud, the father of athree-year old daughter, complained about being assaulted by the local commander of the fifth district in the city. He claimed that the commander constantly assaulted him and seized his goods every time he came to the yard.

    The commanders assaults reached the degree of breaking into my small house where he insulted me in front of my daughter and my wife, Mustafa complained.I considered this act an excessive use of power,he concluded.

    Offering himself up for sale came after Bouadoud had already carried out two forms of protest, starting with a hunger strike that lasted for 48 hours, followed by an open  sit-in along with his wife and his daughter.

    In a statement to Akhbar Al Yaoum, Bouadoud explained that he is "fed up" with the authorities ignoring his plight.  I am ready to engage in new forms of protest to escalate the situation in the event that I dont receive any response from the local authorities.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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    Belgium, Far-right party followers chant fewer, fewer Moroccans

    Rabat- Belgian Vlaams Belang party activists were chanting “fewer, fewer Moroccans” during their party’s electoral congress on Sunday in Antwerp-Belgium, in support of the Dutch right-wing party leader Geert Wilders, who wants “fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands.

    According to the Belgian news website 7sur7, 2,000 activists appeared in support of the anti-Muslim Geert Wilders and chanted “fewer, fewer Moroccans!” as the Vlaams Belang party leader, Filip Dewinter, spoke about stopping immigration in Belgium, during the nationalist party’s electoral congress.

    According to the same source, the Vlaams Belang party invited the Dutch politician as a special guest at the congress, but Wilder cancelled his trip to Belgium for safety reasons, as so many people are turning against him after his anti-Moroccan remarks.

     The conservative nationalist party Vlaams Belang insisted on the same anti-Islam rhetoric used by Wilders. The Vlaam Belang leader, who was disappointed that Wilders cancelled his trip, expressed his sympathy, describing the Dutch right-wing leader’s case as a “defeat for democracy”, according to the same source.

    “It’s serious that the individual is no longer able to express himself freely and that bullying wins over freedom of thought!” the Vlaam Belang leader explained. “It’s a dark day for democracy,” he concluded.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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

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    Moroccan Police. (Abdehak Senna-AFP-Getty Images)

    Rabat- Moroccan authorities announced that a French citizen, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested on Saturday in Rabat, Morocco on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist network.

    According to Le Parisien, the French suspect is alleged to belong to a terrorist network active "in the field of recruiting volunteers to fight in several areas of tension around the world.

    The suspect will be tried once the investigation is completed under the supervision of the competent public prosecutor.

    The suspect was the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Spain. He was arrested after Moroccan security services launched an investigation in coordination with Judiciary Police (La Police Judiciaire).

    According to the same source, the suspect was arrested in the wake "of the dismantlement in mid-March of a terrorist network whose members were recruiting fighters in Laroui in northern Morocco, the Spanish enclave of Melilla and Malaga, in southern Spain.

    The members of this network are active "in the field of recruiting volunteers to fight in several areas of tension around the world," said a statement of National Directorate Security (DGNS).

    This terrorist cell, which is headed by a Spanish citizen,"has branches in Morocco, Belgium, France, Tunisia, Turkey, Libya, Mali, Indonesia and Syria, among others," reported le Parisien.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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

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    Rabat-   The Moroccan football federation (FRFM) unanimously adopted on Sunday its updated statute to conform with the FIFA laws.

    The document was adopted during an extraordinary general assembly in the presence of managers of first league, second league, regional and amateur clubs.

    The new text provides for a legal framework to support the development of football worldwide and secure to all components of Moroccan soccer representation at the general assemblies and steering committee.

    The text also stipulates the establishment of bodies that contribute to guaranteeing transparency in the management of football affairs and the respect of democratic rules.

    The meeting took place in the presence of representatives from FIFA, the African football confederation, the ministry of youth and sports and the Moroccan Olympic committee.

    FIFA annulled last November the election of Fouzi Lekjaa as the new president of the Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) and demanded a fresh vote.

    The world governing body accused the FRMF of failing to adopt the correct statutes before organizing the election.

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    Taroudant, Morocco- According to the Worldagroforestry, argan tree density in Morocco “has decreased from 100 to 30 trees per hectare in less than a century.”

    Despite the country's efforts to preserve and protect the argan tree, it is endangered and the number of trees per ha is in decline according to a study presented by Mohammed SghirTaleb during the World Congress on Agroforestry held in Delhi, India last February.

    Argan tree, which is located in the south west of the kingdom, represents 7% of Morocco’s forest resources covering about 870,000 ha.

    Mohammed SghirTaleb said, “The exploitation of argan is not sustainable.”

    “What we need is a national strategy on access and benefit sharing which could improve the livelihoods of local people through sustainable use and management of the resource at the local and regional levels,” the researcher added.

    Locally known as the tree of life, argan trees produce fruit (almonds like seeds). which are processed traditionally by women, who lately united in cooperatives, to extract the most expensive edible oil in the world, the argan oil.

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

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    London  -  The Kingdom of Morocco is a key partner for the United Kingdom in the region of north and west Africa, wrote a report by the foreign affairs committee at the British parliament.

     With its stable form of government, relative prosperity by comparison to its southern neighbors, and strong internal security and intelligence services, Morocco is identified as key partners for the UK and other Western countries in addressing the security challenges of the Western Sahel, said the report entitled "UK response to extremism and insecurity in north and west Africa".

    "Morocco appears to have genuinely embarked on a path towards greater democratic openness, with the agreement of a new constitution in 2011, and significant political reforms, it said.

     "Relations between the UK and Morocco are warm and mutually respectful," it noted, highlighting that "Morocco has involved itself in efforts to rebuild Mali after the crisis, and has promoted dialogue between the government and Tuareg nationalists".

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    King Mohammed VI and Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta

    Rabat-  Action plans for economic and trade cooperation were signed by the Moroccan exports center "Maroc Export", Casablanca fairs and exhibitions office (OFEC) and Mali's trade and industry chamber (CCIM), following the visit by  King Mohammed VI to Mali in February 2014.

     According to a joint statement, the objective of the agreement, signed by Industry, Trade, Investment and Digital Economy minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy and the Malian trade minister, is to enable Morocco and Mali benefit from synergy of efforts made to promote exports and sectoral strategies.

     It also provides for strengthening institutional cooperation and developing promotional activities to boost trade relations between the Moroccan companies and their Malian counterparts, in order to facilitate the mutual development of their business, the source added.

     Two follow-up meetings to give concrete substance to this agreement were held, in this regard, in Casablanca in February and March between Maroc Export, the OFEC and the CCIM to set their 2014-2016 action plan.

     This plan provides for the collaboration of both parties for the organization of the Bamako International Fair to be held in September 2014, where Morocco will be the guest of honor, said the same source, noting that this collaboration will also involve the organization, in 2015, of Moroccan B to B missions to Mali for the sectors of construction, ICT, and textile and leather, while the food processing and energy sectors will benefit from similar missions in 2016.

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    the Minister of Education, Mohamed El Ouafa

    Rabat- Minister of General Affairs and Governance Mohamed El Ouafa has released his income history since he was a student, as a response to the member of opposing party Istiqlal and the editor-in-chief of the daily Al Alam, who had challenged him to make a public declaration of his salary.

    Mohamed El Ouafa, former member of the Istiqlal party and the current Minister of General Affairs and Governance, presented a press release to many Moroccan news websites on Monday, in which he announced his monthly income since he was a student.

    Hespress, a news website which received a copy of the press release, reported that El Ouafa announced his salary in the context of a controversy which broke out between him and the parliamentary member for the Istiqlal Party, Abdullah Bakkali.

    Mohamed El Ouafa declared his income in response to Abdallah Bakkali, who “challenged the Minister to make a public declaration of his assets,” reported Hespress.

    On Monday afternoon, Mohamed El Ouafa responded to the request of Mr. Bakkali by publishing a list of his assets since he was a student at the Mohammed V University School of Law in 1968, up to today.

    According to the press release presented by El Ouafa, as a student he lived on the university’s Agdal campus, and “was receiving a monthly scholarship of MAD 200 ($24 US)”

    In 1967, El Ouafa became a university professor. This position allowed him to earn a “salary of MAD 3,000 ($360 US),” according to the press release. Between 1977 and 1997, El Ouafa worked in parliament, where “he was earning monthly salaries franging rom MAD 10,000 ($1,228 US) to MAD 30,000 ($3,685 US).”

    According to the same source, the minister owns two apartments, the first located near the Hotel El Mouahidine in Casablanca; the second was acquired as part of a real estate program called Jardins Dar Es Salam, which will be signed over to him in 2015.

     El Ouafa‘s family has two cars, and they currently live in an apartment owned by his wife, in Hay Tayyarat, Youssoufia district in Rabat,” said the press release.

    Mohamed El Ouafa reported his current salary as a minister, stating that he earns “MAD 56,000 ($6,879 US) since he was appointed a minister in the second Abdelilah Benkirane Government.”

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    Casablanca Mohammed V airport

    Casablanca- The Moroccan Authorities decided to deport a group of Syrian citizens who had tried to reach the Moroccan territory via Algeria.

    According to  Yabiladi, the group, composed of 21 people, had tried to reach the Moroccan territory from the Algerian border, but were caught by the Moroccan police.

    The group of  Syrian citizens, composed of men, women and children, fled from Algeria to the Moroccan city of Saidia on the Moroccan-Algerian border and were taken to the Saaidia police station. They were then transported by bus to Mohammed V Airport in Casablanca after spending 8 days in Saidia.

    The members of the Syrian group requested asylum in Morocco and objected to being deported but the authorities denied their request.

    According to Al Massae newspaper, the deportation took place today on Monday despite appeals by human rights associations. The Syrians were promised that they would be deported to Lebanon, but they expressed concern that they would be taken to Turkey instead.

    The father of the family, Akil Kassim said in an interview with Yabiladi that he refused to take the plane to Turkey. He defended his right to stay in Morocco and not be deported to Turkey.

    We refuse to take a plane to Turkey. I defended our right to stay in Morocco. We want to live here and not return to Turkey, he was quoted by Yabiladi as saying.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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

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    "Tarik Mounim is the founder of Save Cinemas in Morocco, an organization dedicated to preserving traditional theaters to promote public cinema in Morocco."

    Philadelphia- Tarik Mounim first learned of the derelict state of Moroccan cinemas when he returned to his home country from Paris in 2006 for a role in the film Goodbye Mothers, which included scenes shot in an old theater in Tetouan.

    “When I saw how amazing the cinema was, and how run down it had become, I met with the theater owner to ask what had happened. He explained to me that as less and less people were visiting cinemas, many were in disrepair or closed,” Tarik says. Other cinema buildings were purchased and repurposed for other businesses.

    Internet piracy and the rise of movie multiplexes have each played a role in the decline of traditional cinemas in Morocco. “Now you can buy a pirated movie on any street corner in Casablanca for 4 or 6 dirham,” Tarik explains. “It kills creation, it kills culture, it kills cinema.”

    The Moroccan Cinematographic Center, in charge of funding and regulating film projects and institutions, put money into producing movies while neglecting to restore old cinemas; instead, they built multiplexes, and stopped sending new releases to the old theaters. At 60 dirham per ticket, the multiplexes are unaffordable for many Moroccans.

    The young actor knew that to lose the historic cinemas would mean a loss of vital cultural venues for Moroccans. “It is the only place for people to share the experience of watching a movie,” Tarik says. “If you watch a movie on a big screen, you are in the movie. Cinema is a mirror to society, a way to understand society and to broach formerly taboo topics.”

    Mounim founded Save Cinemas in Morocco in 2007 to raise awareness and funds for the preservation and promotion of traditional movie theaters. Without funding or publicity, the organizers began by selling t-shirts at an international film festival in Marrakech to make money and garner media attention, and by sharing stories and pictures of the cinemas on social media.

    [caption id="attachment_126393" align="aligncenter" width="742"]save cinemas in morocco theater picture "The Cine Theatre Palace Marrakech, pictured above, is one of the oldest theaters in Marrakech, and was the subject of one of Save Cinemas in Morocco's first organizing events."[/caption]

    “We found the original owner of the Ciné Théâtre Palace Marrakech, one of the oldest movie theaters in Marrakech, and he had old pictures of the cinema that people had never seen. We posted the photos and a lot about the story of the cinema as a way to show that cinemas have a story and an architectural style, and that they could make a nice cultural center in the middle of Marrakech, were there was nowhere for concerts or films,” Tarik says.

    From the beginning, SCIM received enthusiastic support from students and young professionals. “We made an active campaign to mobilize people and convince the authorities that they should not destroy the theaters. Some investors were interested in buying the cinemas to make supermarkets, so we got in front of this, and the more we communicated about the story of the cinemas, the more people joined our cause.”

    Eventually, more than twenty old cinemas were declared historic landmarks thanks to the efforts of Save Cinemas in Morocco.

    SCIM recently developed an exhibition with English artists for the Biennale heritage month to push authorities to buy a theater for renovation that could then be made more accessible with lower ticket prices.

    Tarik hopes that restoring old cinemas will pique interest in subsidizing theater tickets to encourage public engagement with art. He sees the buildings as the symbolic heart of visual art. “Cinemas are temples of culture,” he says. “Making cinema affordable will encourage people to share movies, their culture and their hearts.”

    Without major donors or public funds, Save Cinemas in Morocco has managed to gain the support of the Minister of Communications for the preservation of cinemas as historic monuments. Now, SCIM is looking for funding for their newest project. “We want to put cinemas where there are none - El Jadida, Ouazazate, Essaouira, Agadir, and many other cities,” Mounim says.

    Tarik, who is also the director of development at Sandman Productions, says that starting an NGO in Morocco can be challenging. “It is difficult to find funding, and there is little existing structure.” However, he advises aspiring organizers to learn by doing. “It is the best school,” he says. “When you work for someone else, you have to sacrifice your passion; when you work for yourself, you are surrounded by people who believe in your project.”

     The SCIM founder sees broader significance in preserving traditional cinema. “The language of cinema is the language of dialogue between people; it is about peace and understanding - an international language. A country where there is no cinema is missing something.”

    “We will not save all the cinemas, but we know one thing: there is less and less space in our cities for cultural events. For us, it is vital to explain to the authorities that there is a demand for this kind of place, for people to have a place where they can express their creativity, especially young people,” Mounim says.

    “The more people who join us, the more we will change the mentality of authorities and engage them in issues of cultural politics in Morocco. We are happy to organize partnerships with artists or anyone who is interested in supporting our efforts, and we invite them to join us.”

    For more information about Save Cinemas in Morocco, visit their website,, follow them on Facebook, or email inquiries directly to savecinemasinmarocco[at]

    This article is part of a series on young artists, creators and organizers pursuing unconventional paths. Read about Off-the-Wall Pilgrimage, the first Palestinian-Israeli arts festival in Paris, and an interview with rapper Soultana.

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

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    surf in Morocco

    Taroudant, Morocco- For several decades, Morocco has been a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, attracted by the fascinating imperial cities, uplifting landscapes, vast desert and delicious food.  Yet, recently surfers found in the Moroccan coastlines challenging waves that afford almost ideal conditions for any surfer.

    In winter, the European costliness don’t offer conditions due to the cold and wind. Wave quality, pleasant climate, geographical proximity to Europe, and exciting waves that pound its Atlantic coastline turn Morocco into a destination for professional surfers.

    Surfing in Morocco is increasingly gaining popularity and many "surf camps", with courses and accommodation packages sold by travel agencies have been installed in the coastlines of the kingdom.

    [video id="18118541" type="vimeo"]

    According to CNN, Abdullah Aitdir has converted his father’s grocery store in the nearby village of Taghazout, into a surf school.

    "Surfing is more profitable," he explains. "Even if it's seasonal, it's still good."

    Aitdir confirms the profitability of the business of surfing, calling for the implementation of more rules to regulate the sports and make it more organized.

    "It used to be chaos," says Aitdir. "Everyone would just come and try to [enter] the surfing industry without paying any taxes, and there were no regulations. Now, there are more rules," he adds.

    The potential of the Moroccan surf in terms of tourism development is considerable. With nearly 3,500 miles of diverse beautiful coastline, Morocco stands as an ideal haven for the international surfing.

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

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    El Ouardi

    Rabat- Tuberculosis still infects thousands of Moroccans each year.

    El Hossein El Ouardi announced on Monday in Casablanca that Morocco registers over 27,000 new cases of tuberculosis (TB) every year.

    On the eve of World Tuberculosis Day, the Moroccan Ministry of Health announced its latest records of the number of people afflicted with TB in the country.

    According to Akhbar Al Yaoum, Minister of Health El Hossein El Ouardi announced that Morocco saw 27,000 new cases of TB in the last year.

    According to the same source, tuberculosis spreads in the working class neighborhoods of large cities such as Casablanca, Salé, Fez and Tangier. It affects mostly young males between 15 and 45 years old.

    “Casablanca recorded the largest percentage of cases at 20%, registering 5,000 of the cases reported in the kingdom overall,” El Ouardi said.

    El Houssein El Ouardi said that the Ministry of Health has developed a new plan to fight tuberculosis. “It will depend on providing free medicine, bringing the treatment to remote areas, signing partnerships with non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as controlling socioeconomic determinants to eliminate the disease,” El Ouardi said.

    El Ouradi explained that with this new plan adopted by the Ministry of Health, entitled “Early Detection for 95% of Cases,’’ the treatment success rate increased by 85%, and the number of cases  has been reduced by 3% compared to last year.”

    “The Ministry of Health has allocated a budget of MAD 30 Million($3.5 million US), to the new plan, in addition to a grant from the  Global Fund to Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for 2012-2016, which is estimated at MAD 85 million ($10.5m US),” the Minister of Health concluded.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    King Mohammed VI Flies To Mali

    Kuwait-city - King Mohammed VI addressed a speech to the participants in the 25th Arab Summit which is being held in Kuwait on March 25-26.

     Here follows the full text of the speech read out by head of government Abdelilah Benkirane:

     "Praise be to God; May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin

      Your Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al -Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait, Chairman of the Summit,

       Your Majesties,

       Your Highnesses,

       Your Excellencies,

       Mr. Secretary-General,

       Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It gives me great pleasure to extend my sincere thanks to my brother, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al -Sabah, the Emir of the State of Kuwait and to the Kuwaiti people for hosting this Summit. I would like to congratulate His Highness on the excellent preparation for this important meeting.

    I also wish to commend my brother the Emir of the State of Qatar, Chairman of our previous Summit session, for his efforts to promote joint Arab action.

       Your Majesties,

       Your Highnesses,  

       Your Excellencies,

    Amid the swift regional and international changes affecting the world, there have been important developments with regard to the Palestinian cause, particularly the recognition by the United Nations Organization of the State of Palestine, granting it non-Member Observer State status, as well as Palestine’s admission to UNESCO as a full-fledged member.

    Furthermore, thanks to the untiring efforts of the U.S. Administration, the Palestinian and the Israeli sides have returned to the negotiating table with a view to reaching an agreement that covers all final status issues.

    In this respect, I should like to emphasize that the Arab Peace Initiative remains a realistic proposal for the achievement of comprehensive peace, which would benefit the region and the world.

    Our strong commitment to support the United States’ efforts and ensure the success of the negotiations, together with the keenness of the Arab delegation from the follow-up committee to the Arab Peace Initiative to closely follow the negotiations and support the Palestinian position in these negotiations clearly show how committed we are not only to the option of peace, but also to its process which guarantees the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent, viable and geographically contiguous state, with Al-Qods al-Sharif as its capital, living side by side with Israel, in peace and security.

    As Chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Al-Qods al-Sharif Committee, I was keen to convene the twentieth session of the Al-Qods Committee, which was held in Marrakech and which I chaired in person. For the first time ever, the Committee meeting was attended by a fine group of eminent representatives of the UN Secretary-General, the five permanent members of the Security Council, the European Union and the Vatican.

    The meeting provided a suitable opportunity to emphasize, once more, that there can be no peace without determining the final status of East Jerusalem - the core issue of the conflict in the region - and that the responsibility for achieving the desired peace lies with the entire international community.

     I also underscored the importance of acting on the ground, through the Bayt Mal Al Quds Al Sharif Agency, in order to support the steadfastness of the inhabitants of Al-Qods on their own land, and to oppose the Judaization policy applied by Israel in the holy city.

    However, given Israel’s continuing aggressive policies, I call for full and close coordination between the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. This will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our initiatives and endeavors, in addition to increasing our ability to muster our energies and resources with a view to upholding this just cause. 

    Just as I insist on closing Arab and Muslim ranks, I call on our Palestinian brothers to rise above their differences and to achieve genuine national reconciliation that strengthens the Palestinian negotiating hand. I wish to reiterate my continuing support for the efforts exerted in this regard by my brother Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine and President of the Palestinian National Authority.

     As we are nearing the agreed end-of-April deadline for reaching a final status agreement, I should like to insist that any extension of the negotiation period should lead to the formulation of a new approach that puts an end to the occupation, results in to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state and comes up with consensus-based solutions to all issues, using a specific timetable.

     In this regards, we utterly refuse that Israel should be allowed to use the extension to buy time, change things on the ground or impose a fait accompli.

       Your Majesties,

       Your Highnesses,  

       Your Excellencies,

    The Arab world has seen far-reaching developments which have led, in some countries, to changes of varying degrees.

    In other countries, because the spirit of dialogue and compromise was not embraced, because narrow considerations were permitted to prevail over higher national interests and because sectarianism was allowed to expand and grow, peoples’ hopes and aspirations for freedom, dignity, progress and democracy have, regrettably, been thwarted.

    I wish to refer, in particular, to the tragic situation experienced by our brothers in Syria. The humanitarian tragedy gripping them is calling out to our conscience as Arabs and Muslims, and, beyond that, to the conscience of the international community as a whole.

    In this regard, the first thing to keep in mind is what the UN Secretary General said when he indicated that what is happening in Syria is the greatest humanitarian crisis facing the world.

    It is truly a humanitarian tragedy, a dark, shameful chapter in the history of mankind. It is also a dangerous, unacceptable situation which the international community should address and in which it is called upon to bear its responsibility in full.

     In this regard, I wish to stress the need for the Security Council to continue to work effectively for the implementation of the first Geneva Conference declaration, to put an end to the suffering of the valiant Syrian people and to enable them to achieve their legitimate aspirations for unity, democracy, development and dignity.

       Your Majesties,

       Your Highnesses,  

       Your Excellencies,

    The Arab world is currently going through a sensitive stage, with heightened political tensions, worsening economic and social conditions, growing sectarian strife and a tendency towards extremism and terrorism. All of these are testing our will to promote joint Arab action.

    It has become imperative that Arab countries turn our organization into a more effective bloc that is able to keep up with those changes and developments. We therefore need to adopt a new approach in our joint action based on trust, dialogue, good neighborliness, responsibility and a will to put our inter-Arab differences - the real ones as well as the fabricated ones - behind us and look to the future when dealing with Arab issues.

    Our best course of action, in this respect, is to make the most of the tremendous potential for unity and complementarity, and to avoid divisions and disagreements.

    We also should be more aware of our own resources and boost our self-confidence in order to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of our peoples. This can be achieved provided we believe in the common good and serve Arab citizens, particularly young people, and uphold their right to development, democracy, security, serenity and stability. 

    Such lofty objectives can only be attained by our Arab countries through the integration of Arab nations into strong regional blocs which command respect for their legitimate interests at the regional and the international levels.

    In the Maghreb region, we still have not achieved the integration we yearn for. The regrettable hurdles faced constitute an unjustifiable squandering of development opportunities for the five Maghreb countries. By contrast, I see the Gulf Cooperation Council as an example of successful regional integration. I therefore call for the GCC to be further protected and to enable it to rise to the temporary challenges it may be faced with.

    The Kingdom of Morocco, which concluded a multidimensional strategic partnership with this major Arab bloc in 2011, is keen to ensure it remains a model of Arab regional integration, given the achievements made through a commitment to common denominators shared by its Member States, and the respect for its founding principles and values, particularly when it comes to safeguarding the security and unity of its members and combating external interferences that seek to undermine its stability.

       Your Majesties,

       Your Highnesses,  

       Your Excellencies,

    In previous Arab Summits, we made a number of important decisions aimed at serving Arab citizens. With the profound changes affecting the Arab world, we need to adopt innovative ideas and appropriate mechanisms to meet our peoples’ aspirations for further progress and prosperity.

    In this regard, I have always firmly believed that homogenous, integrated regional blocs within the larger Arab family can make the Arab house even stronger and further enhance its solidarity and efficiency.

    While Arab endeavors in the past laid special emphasis on strengthening political relations between Arab countries, today we know for sure that cooperation with countries from the South, on the basis of efficiency, productivity and credibility, is one of the best means for achieving economic growth and sustainable human development, both from the human perspective as well as from the economic and investment angle.

    In this respect, I call for capitalizing on the human, spiritual and historical bonds between the Arab world and Sub-Saharan African countries, in order to establish economic cooperation relations with African regional groupings. Morocco is keen to build on its experience and special relations with these countries to forge effective solidarity-based partnerships.

       Your Majesties,

       Your Highnesses,  

       Your Excellencies,

    The Kingdom of Morocco, which believes in all the factors Arab countries have in common, which is convinced that we share a common destiny and which is keen to lay the foundations for effective and innovative Arab cooperation, has spared no effort to serve common Arab interests.

    Given the tremendous human and material potential available to Arab countries, I think it is imperative to embark on a sincere collective effort to build a solid, cohesive Arab space, where there is no room for disputes and dissension - an Arab platform for the promotion of trust, solidarity, mutual assistance and shared interests, for the well-being of our peoples.

    To conclude, I pray that Almighty God grant us success and guide us for the benefit of our Ummah, its unity and dignity. 

    "And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love".

    True is the Word of God."

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    Abdullah Bakkali, member of opposing party Istiqlal discloses his assets

    Rabat- After Minister of General Affairs and Governance Mohamed El Ouafa released his income history since he was a student, Abdullah Bakkali, member of opposing party Istiqlal and the editor-in-chief of the daily Al Alam responded to the minister and disclosed his assets on Tuesday.

    Replying to the assets released yesterday by the Minister of General Affairs and Governance, the parliamentary member for the Istiqlal Party Abdullah Bakkali released his income history since he had graduated.

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, after the Minister of General Affairs and Governance released his income history yesterday, Abdullah Bakkali, parliamentary member for the Istiqlal Party described El Ouafa as “a petty puppet”.

    According to the same source, Bakkali explained that Mohamed El Ouafa is a “puppet, and whoever was moving him in the puppet show will throw him away, because he has expired.”

    The editor-in-chief of Al Alam stated on his Facebook page that although he has no contact with public money, because he has never worked in the public sector, “I will make a public declaration of my assets.”

    According to Bakkali’s Facebook status, after he graduated from the Journalism and Information Sciences Institute in Tunisia in 1985,  he “started working with the Cooperation Development Office the same year.”

    Next, he joined Al Alam newspaper, where he earned a “salary of MAD 2500 ($307 US), before it became MAD 300($369 US) at the beginning of the nineties.”

    According to the same source, Bakkali currently lives in “an apartment located in Harhoura, Rabat which was purchased with a 15 year mortgage.” He added, “I had bought another apartment in L’Oudaya, Rabat, before I sold it for MAD 180,000 ($22,150 US) in 2009… with this amount, I bought an apartment for my parents in Laarache.”

    According to the same source, Abdullah Bakkali stated that he owns another “apartment, near Tangier.”

    Abullah Bakkali concluded by saying, “You see, I have neither a villa in Hay Riad  nor an apartment in Agdal [two of the most prestigious districts in Rabat], and my wife is only an 11th grade teacher.”

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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

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    A Saudi Podcaster “Mocks” Morocco’s English Name

    Casablanca- Is there anything wrong with Morocco’s name in English? The video of a Saudi man recently uploaded to Al Arabiya’s website seems to claim so.

    “Why is ‘Morocco’ the English translation of its Arabic name, Al Maghrib?” asks the Saudi man in his video, after introducing the general topic of his short podcast: Arab countries’ names in English.

    The Saudi gives Morocco as an example of a country whose name in English does not correspond to its Arabic original name.

    Not only did he describe Morocco’s name as a ridiculous translation of its Arabic equivalent, but also as homonymous with Marka (sauce in Moroccan Arabic).

    “The English translation of Morocco’s Arabic name should rather be ‘sunset’” suggests the Saudi man satirically. “But that would even be more ridiculous” he comments.

    For the Saudi, Saudi Arabia, the English translation of its Arabic name Soudia, makes more sense than ‘Morocco’ as an English translation of its original name in Arabic. He concluded by suggesting that Morocco be renamed Al Maghreb to reflect its name in Arabic.

    While many people have viewed the Saudi man's video uploaded to YouTube, it has predominantly elicited angry comments. Along with that, the bulk of comments on the video denounced his “mockery of Morocco’s name.”

    Some of the comments referred the origin of Morocco’s name as being Amazigh rather than Arab, and disdained the Saudi's “ignorance of Morocco’s history.”

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

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    King Mohammed VI receives Secretary of State, John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

    AMMAN- US Secretary of State John Kerry will make long-delayed visits to Algeria and Morocco next week, his spokeswoman said on Wednesday, marking his first trips to both countries.

    The top US diplomat will on the April 1-5 trip travel to Algiers for meetings with top Algerian officials ahead of similar talks in Morocco. He had originally planned to visit both countries late last year, but had to change his schedule at the last minute.

    The trip will come after a week-long visit to Europe and Saudi Arabia, during which he arrived Wednesday on a surprise visit to Amman to meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the hopes of keeping Middle East peace talks on track.

    While in Algiers, Kerry will also co-chair the US-Algeria Strategic Dialogue with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, Psaki said in a statement.

    The dialogue, launched in October 2012, covers a range of bilateral and regional issues, "including political and security developments, boosting economic ties, and strengthening civil society," Psaki said.

    While in Rabat, Kerry will co-chair the US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue with Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar.

    He will also meet with senior Moroccan officials "to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues".

    Psaki did not give precise dates for the visits but said Kerry's trip, which also takes him to Brussels to join NATO talks on the crisis in Ukraine, will span April 1-5.

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    Morocco, PJD Member “Authorizes” Sexual Relations During Ramadan Daytime

    Rabat- A Member of Justice and Development Party (PJD) issued a new Fatwa legalizing sexual relations during Ramadan daylight hours.

    Abdelbari Zamzami is no longer the only Cheikh specializing in the “excitement” fatwas, but rather part of a new group of “jurists” who are leading figures in the political parties, participating in the governmental coalition in charge of the issuing of “sexual fatwas.”

    The latest politician to enroll was Ahmed Choukairi Dini, a member of the National Council for Justice and Development Party. Choukairi issued a new fatwa permitting engaging in sexual relations during Ramadan daytime.

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, Ahmed Choukairi Dini permitted “having sexual intercourse for the traveling couples.”

    Choukairi quoted some hadiths, reports of the deeds and sayings of the prophet Mohamed, in which he argues “Sheikh Ibn Outhaïmin allowed the traveler to sleep with his wife, with or without preliminaries  during a day of fasting.”

    According to the same source, the odd fatwa says “while fasting in Ramadan, a husband is recommended to caress and kiss his wife in order to get her ready for sexual intercourse after iftar (break the fast) later at night.”

    According to Akhbar Alyaoum, this fatwa stirred controversy, in particular because a PJD government coalition leader issued it. “Many people expressed astonishment that Mr. Ahmed Choukairi, the PJD member and the former member of the executive committee was busy thinking of having intercourse in a legitimate way, rather than chasing corruption,” Akhbar Al Yaoum reported.

    Edited by Liz Yaslik

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