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Morocco News meets the World

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    King Mohammed VI and Ban Ki-moon

    Tetouan- King Mohammed VI held on Saturday a phone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, says a release of the Royal office.

    The talks covered latest developments and the present timetable related to the Moroccan Sahara issue, says the release.

    On this occasion, the King reiterated Morocco's constant commitment and constructive cooperation to reach a final political settlement to this regional dispute, within Moroccan sovereignty.

    The King further drew the UN secretary General's attention to the imperative need to preserve the negotiations parameters as they were defined by the Security Council, safeguard the presence framework and modalities of the UN involvement and avoid biased approaches and risky options, the statement goes on.

    Any straying from this track will be fatal for the ongoing process and holds dangers for any UN involvement in the issue.

    The conversation also covered the King's sustained actions and laudable initiatives for the stability and development of the African continent.

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    King Mohammed VI receives Georges Soros, chairman of ‘Open Society foundations’

    Tetouan- King Mohammed VI received this Saturday at the Royal Palace in Tetouan, the Chairman of "Open Society Foundations", Georges Soros, says a release of the Royal office.

    Soros is presently visiting Morocco to take part in a meeting of the board of trustees of the "International Crisis Group", a think-tank group gathering renowned personalities committed to peace and stability in the world.

    The meeting covered particularly the deep mutations going on at the regional and international contexts and Morocco's contribution to the efforts needed for the establishment of peace and stability in various regions, mainly in Africa, as well as the defense of humanitarian and democratic causes, especially as regards the fields of health, education and food security.

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    U.S. Africa Command chief Gen. David Rodriguez

    Taroudant, Morocco - The Obama administration has called on Morocco and Turkey to train the Libyan military.

    More than two years after the toppling of former Libya’s strong man Moamar Gaddafi and the constitution of a new transition government, the North African country is still grappling with a fragile security situation. This is compounded by a weak military that has so far failed to extend its grip throughout a territory that has become a fertile ground for Al Qaeda operatives.

    To help the Libyan government strengthen its authority, the American government has called on Morocco and Turkey to train the Libyan military.

    According to the World Tribune, the Obama Administration is seeking the help of Morocco to rebuild Libya’s weak military.

    “Between the four European partners, the U.S. and the Moroccans, they’ve committed to train up to 20,000 people in that force,” U.S. Africa Command chief Gen. David Rodriguez was quoted by the World Tribune as saying.

    “The U.S. right now is waiting on money coming from the Libyan government to begin to fund the training in Bulgaria,” he added.

    Morocco is major non-NATO US ally and is one of only 15 at the global level and two on the entire African continent.

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    Rachid El Morabity

    Taroudant, Morocco- Moroccan Rachid El Morabity won Friday's third stage of the 29th Marathon des Sables (MDS) ahead of his fellow competitors, Abdelkader El Mouaziz and five-time winner Mohamad Ahansal.

    Morocco’s Rachid El Morabity maintained his dominance of this year’s Marathon des Sables by winning stage three.

    Already victorious of the first two stages, El Morabity "completed the 37.5 kilometre leg in a winning time of three hours, four minutes and 0.5 seconds," according to Euronews.

    Known simply as the MdS, the Marathon des Sables is ranked by the Discovery Channel as the toughest footrace on earth.

    Mohamad Ahansal is the reigning champion of the Marathon for five times. He won all the stages of 2010 edition with a faultless clear route.

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

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    Fouzi Lejaa, New President of Moroccan Football Federation

    SkhirateFouzi Lakjaa was elected on Sunday president of the Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF), during the FRMF general assembly

    Lekjaa, the only candidate to vie for this position, was elected for a four-year mandate, renewable once. Lekjaa, is the vice-president of the Berkane’s “Renaissance Sportive,” a club playing in the first division of the Moroccan soccer league.

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    Chairman of the Moroccan economic, social and environmental council (CESE), Nizar Baraka

    Washington - Chairman of the Moroccan economic, social and environmental council (CESE), Nizar Baraka, presented on Saturday in Washington the democratic and economic reforms adopted in Morocco to promote more inclusive and job-generating growth.

    Baraka who spoke during a conference held by the International Monetary Fund on "Arab economic transformation among political transition," stressed that Morocco has succeeded in speeding the reform process in order to better meet the citizens' aspirations to a better future, noting that transition in Morocco started in early 90's.

    He went on that the constitution adopted in 2011 has given more credit to institutions and helped speed up structural reforms by giving prime importance to integrated sectorial strategies that are meant to promote youth access to decent jobs.

    During the conference, Baraka also spoke about Morocco's African calling, recalling, in this context, the recent tour undertaken by HM King Mohammed VI to four African countries and the establishment of a fertilizers plant for Africa which illustrates Morocco's commitment to agriculture and food security in the continent.

    The CESE chairman further noted various measures to support small and medium-sized enterprises, including tax reduction from 30 to 10pc.

    The conference, held on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank spring session was moderated by head of the IMF Middle east and North Africa department, Masood Ahmed.

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    Morocco- Tchermil Prompts Ministry of Interior to Mobilize its Security Apparatus

    Rabat- Following the security campaign against Tchermil activity, a handful of teens with weird haircuts were arrested and had their hair cut by policemen on Saturday in Casablanca.

    The blue collar districts in Casablanca were the scene of a strange security campaign led by interior ministry officials and policemen against the unusual haircuts that distinguish Tchermil members.

    According to Assabah, security officials “armed” with razors were arresting teens with unusual haircuts on Saturday to forcibly cut their hair, without their parents’ permission, before releasing them again.

    According to the same source, this campaign initiated by the interior minister Mohamed Hassad targeted teens who were out of their homes at night.

    They were arrested and forced to have a part of their hair cut so that they will go to the nearest hairstylist to get their hair completely cut.

    To some, this campaign is to replace the role of parents who have abandoned their instructive duty toward their children.

    Yet others harshly criticized it, such as Rachich Chriai, the president of the Moroccan Center of Human Rights, who considers it a “violation of human rights”.

    Talking to Assabah, Rachid said that Tchermil is an alien phenomenon to Moroccan society, but “it should not be fought at the expense of human rights.”

     Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    Cohabitation in Morocco- a Crime or a Fundamental Right

    New Jersey - In a recent article by Zouhir Chbakou, he argues that cohabition is a fundamental right of any human being. However, much of his article lacked a solid foundation and his arguments lacked evidence.

    As a progressive Moroccan (and one who supports the idea of more freedom), I would like to argue that sometimes a line is drawn, and cohabitation is one of those cases. It is not a fundamental right as Chbakou says, but a crime in this society.  

    I agree that many Moroccans, especially the young generation, are living in confusion and struggling between the old values of their parents and the new values they get from the media. The increasing problems of unemployment and financial insufficiency, added to so many other social crises, widen the gap of uncertainty among this large portion of Moroccan population. The impact of institutions such as family, mosque and school in correcting these confusions, is challenged by new forces of media, particularly the internet and the television.

    Due to all these circumstances, we will continue to have drug and alchohol problems, as well as all other kind of corruptions. However, we will not have cohabitation as “a fundamental right” for one simple reason: Morocco has always been a family-based community and will stay this way forever. Its culture is mainly defined from its religion, meaning it is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah (the Prophet’s tradition). Hence, cohabitation, premarital sex or any personal commitment between a man and woman is considered immoral. When the couple is not even allowed to court or date before the wedding and must meet only with their families present, the cohabitation is entirely out of the question.

    Because of this country’s strategic location, it has benefited from the knowledge of all people, which has kept this culture strong and dynamic for ages.  I agree that we would love to see Morocco enjoy and allow even more freedoms.  But, to make “Morocco a sexually liberated country,” as Zouhir Chbakou dreams of, would not be intrinsically a disaster, it will just provide the space for millions of disasters to occur.

    Excessive increase of sexual freedom will cause a reaction in the opposite direction. We could end up with an unhealthy sexualized society that struggles with sex addiction, pornography, or other immoral sexual practices. The absence of moral restraint will certainly appeal to the destructive and disintegrative instincts and provoke greedy, self-centered and hence unhappy individuals.

    What we really need in Morocco is to raise ideal, well-balanced men and women, who acquire some norms from their society and principles  from their cultural background. Without those social norms and cultural rules, the Moroccan society would not function as it currently does.  Alexis de Tocqueville said once: "The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality".

    I am surprised to see Zouhir Chbakou tackling cohabitation in a way that makes it a major problem in Morocco, while his examples concerns a bunch of people who have no relation with the Moroccan culture at any point of their lives. He has given the example of some activist and someone who studied abroad or even might be raised in a different culture and brought a girlfriend from there. Those examples do not represent Moroccans at all. Most Moroccans, especially young adults do not favor cohabitation, because they are aware of the benefits of marriage.

    Another problem with cohabitation is that it leads to domestic violence and family instability. Studies conducted by Linda Waite, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, show that, “16 percent of cohabiting women reported that arguments with their partners became physical during the past year, while only 5 percent of married women had similar experiences.”

    Although surveys showed cohabiting couples expect their relationships to be faithful, the surveys also showed that 20 percent of cohabiting women reported they had secondary sex partners, while only 4 percent of married women reported they did, according to Waite.  

    The Moroccan Family Code (Moudawana) projects an ideal lawful cohabitation, based on good conjugal relations by drawing up a contract of marriage that legally protects both parties. No documentation can be established for cohabitation outside of marriage. As a result, should a woman have a child and end up breaking relations with the man she is living with, she would be unable to protect herself and the children. She cannot have any property rights or be entitled to any financial support in caring for her children. Even worse, her children will never have any documentation that will allow them schooling or any other basic civil right of a citizen. So, what Zouhir Chbakou calls “mutually consensual sexual consent” is indeed a crime against those children, who will eventually find themselves in the streets with no security of a home or even a society that would embrace them.

    I am wondering what kind of happiness he meant when he said, “Youth would be able to enjoy the benefits of companionship and cohabitation” when both man and woman are probably living in constant threat because of uncertainty, lack of trust, and zero commitment. Neither man nor woman will find happiness and well-being in living this way in the Moroccan society, because the feeling of guilt, shame, and alienation will haunt them.

    Moroccans need to spread the awareness of the dangers of cohabitation and also to hold true to their values about sexuality and marriage. Most importantly, they need to teach their children to stand up for these values against the spreading selfishness combined with fear, insecurity, and anger against the society.  

    Edited by Saba Naseem

    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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    Ban Ki-moon andn Christopher Ross

    New York- The UN Secretary General released his annual report on the “Situation in the Western Sahara” on Thursday. The much-anticipated report, which will constitute the main reference for Security Council members in drafting their annual resolution on the Sahara, was somehow balanced.

    Unlike last year’s report, Ban Ki-moon did not make a clear recommendation on the need to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to include a human rights monitoring mechanism.

    Further, in this year’s report the UNSG praised the efforts made by Morocco to address human rights concerns in the territory, and its “cooperation with the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council,” while expressing his “satisfaction” with the steps taken by Morocco, such as those related to the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and the military tribunals.

    Nevertheless, the UN chief made a statement that I find troubling. “The end goal nevertheless remains a sustained, independent and impartial human rights monitoring mechanism, covering both the Territory and the camps,” he said.

    What is troubling about this statement is that it shows that the United Nations is deviating from its core mandate, which is finding a long-lasting and mutually acceptable political solution to the conflict, where none of the parties comes out as a loser.

    This statement makes one wonder whether the United Nations is really seeking to bridge the gap between Morocco and the Polisario in order to find a final solution to this territorial dispute, or its goal has become simply to establish a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara and the Tndouf camps.

    Every observer of the question of the Sahara is aware that the question of human rights has been used by Algeria and the Polisario in order to thwart Morocco’s attempts to find a political solution to the conflict based on the spirit of compromise and a win-win approach.

    The question of human of human rights is used by the Polisario, Algeria and their allies to weaken Morocco’s position vis-à-vis the international community and make it look as a country that “occupies” a territory and “abuses” the human rights of it population. The objective of this approach is surely not to reach a political solution to the conflict, but to adopt a politicized approach that would supposedly favor a party to the detriment of the other, with the ultimate goal being to allow the Polisario to establish an independent state in the Sahara.

    To publicize their claim and garner the support of the international public opinion for the establishment of a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara, Polisario supporters have been hammering over and over again at the claim that MINURSO is the only UN mission without such a mechanism. Kerry Kennedy and Javier, among the most vocal supporters of the Polisario, in addition to a number of human rights organizations, have been touring the world and claiming that MINURSO is the only UN mission that is not provided with a human rights monitoring mechanism.

    Yet, the reality is totally different. A quick search on the UN website suffices to show any observer that there are two other current UN missions that do not have such a mechanism, namely, the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the United Nations Interim Force in Abyei. In addition, several past UN mission did not include such a mechanism.

    By buying into the argument used by those who support the separatist claims of the Polisario, the United Nations would be simply deviating from its core mandate and favoring the interests and approach of one party to the detriment of the other. Yet the mandate of the United Nations as a broker is to help bridge the gap between Morocco and the Polisario and pave the way towards finding a political and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict, in line with relevant Security Council resolutions adopted since April 2007.  

    Even if the international community is seeking to uphold human rights in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps, which itself is a commendable effort, this highly politicized question should not turn into an end goal per see, but only into one of the tools likely to promote confidence building between the two parties and bridge the gap between them.

    Yet it is obvious that the question of human rights is not used by those who advocate it to bridge the gap between Morocco and the Polisario nor will it help promote confidence building between them. The ultimate goal of this approach is to use the human rights mechanism in the Sahara as a stepping stone towards bringing the Sahara conflict under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which will then preclude any political solution.

    As I have explained in my previous articles, if the United Nations is seeking to help the two parties to find a political solution to the conflict it has to be clear about what approach to take. If the end goal is a political solution, then any approach that may be used for political purposes or that deviates from the UN’s core mandate should be avoided.

    In addition, if it were to put an end to this crisis, the United Nations ought to take the reality on the ground and deal with the conflict with a realistic approach that is adapted to the changing realities of the second decade of the third millennium. The United Nations cannot keep trying to apply to nowadays conflicts the same outdated approach that was applied in the 1960s.

    If the United Nations is serious about finding a political solution to the Sahara conflict and promoting stability in North Africa and the Sahel regions, then it needs to reconsider its approach and throw  its weight behind efforts helping the two parties to iron out their differences in order to reach such a political solution.

    To achieve this, the end goal of the United Nations should not be the establishment of a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara or holding unfruitful meetings between the parties to the conflict. UN officials have to keep in mind that their core mission is to promote international peace and security, rather than promoting the creation of micro states that would provide a fertile ground for instability and chaos in the region and the world.

    You can follow him on on Twitter @Samir Bennis

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

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    Teaching of Arabic in a French Institute in Morocco (Photo by Le Matin du Sahara).

    Marrakech - Morocco has lately witnessed a profound change in various policies, and attention has focused on Moroccos policy on language which has been questioned in debates in recent years.

    However, the policy of language implementation is quite problematic, given the nature of Moroccos many cultural and linguistic influences as well as its local identity, while at the same time also being driven by the need to adapt to the globe, which is a part of Moroccos openness towards Europe, the US, and the entire world.

    It is evident that French and Moroccan Arabic, colloquially known as Darija,constitute the major useful languages as most Moroccans can speak both, or at least one, in public life. Each of these languages serves in a variety of public areas and is used by categories of people as their language of communication and for special purposes. Yet, Tamazight on the other hand has been introduced to the public in reaction to demands by a number of associations and human rights NGOs. Such movements have been calling for a real political willingness to recognize Tamazight as an official language of Morocco, not merely recognizing it constitutionally but promoting it as much as possible to be an active and dynamic language serving all areas in the public. 

    The current state of language policy in Morocco is complicated. It is based upon extensive historical and cultural changes within the Moroccan society. Yet establishing a certain language as official above the others is based upon political power. Therefore, power has been an important factor driving language policy, no matter what tongue the majority of people speak. France, as a part of its colonial theory, imposed French upon the majority of people who speak Tamazight and/or Moroccan Arabic. Therefore, France influenced the linguistic structure of Morocco, which has served French interests well, even after Morocco's  independence.

    Unlike some ex-French colonies, such as Senegal and Mali, which have adopted French as their first language after their independence, Morocco decided to use both French and Standard Arabic, one being a national and official language and the other the medium of business and foreign communication. Although the decision maintained the Arabo-Islamic identity of Morocco and reshaped its existence, it has not completely satisfied the linguistic needs of all Morocco, especially the Amazigh speaking groups whose identity and culture has been neglected and not politically recognized in the past decade.

    English vs. French?

    Nobody can deny that French dominates most areas of public life in Morocco. The French language has tremendously affected our behaviors the attitudes. It is often regarded as a second language after Darija, but a large proportion of people consider it to be a foreign language alongside English and Spanish. Indeed, French is, to many Moroccans, a language used to gain prestige and respect. Besides, speakers of this language are labeled as belonging to the upper social class. It has also for the past century, been a globallanguage due to many educational references written in French in all disciplines, such as the arts and experimental sciences.

    The wave of globalization has pushed many countries in the developing world to adopt English as a first foreign language. Some of these countries are neither the home of English speaking people nor ex-British colonies.  To name but a few, these include Poland, Hungary and Turkey.  Such countries considered English a potential language which could contribute to their local development.  Most of these countries have adopted English as a medium of instruction at the tertiary education level, as well as the language of business, diplomacy, and foreign affairs. Consequently, their language policy has succeeded in introducing these countries to the global structure as models of developing countries.

    Morocco, on the other hand, has worked to reach the globalised world through several attempts at reform. Yet the public policy of Morocco has not taken into consideration the need to adopt English, as a universal language, being understood by the majority of international decision makers and scholars from all over the world. Morocco still retains French as its first interest, with little attention paid to English, claiming that the first (French) is still as much a global languageas it was believed to have been in the past decade, while the second (English) is less efficient at the national level.

    Very recently,  Moroccan teachers of English, including members of the governments and leaders of political parties (e.g., the Minister of higher education, Mr. Lahcen Daoudi and the leader of Alistiqlal party, Mr. Hamid Chabat)  have called upon replacing French with English as a first foreign language, or at least making English more important in Moroccan education. Yet, no official statement has been made by the government to give a boost to English.

    Standard Arabic vs. Darija (Moroccan Dialect of Arabic)

    Standard Arabic is the official language of the state. Morocco has implemented it to cover all sectors including public education and media. However, Moroccan citizens do not master this language as it is not their mother tongue, rather they are brought up using Darija as a medium of communication within families, friends and colleagues. Linguistically speaking, Darija is a dialect which combines some Arabic items with the local expressions. It has moved from being a dialect into a prospective language serving Media and Arts. Therefore, some scholars have recently called for standardizing Darija and adopting it as a language of instruction in Education.

    In the televised 2M program Moubashara Maakom, a special episode was produced for the debate on the question of Darija implementation. The two debaters, Nour Eddin Ayouch and Abdellah El Aroui, are scholars representing opposite views concerning the legitimacy and efficiency of using Darija at schools in place of Standard Arabic. Nour Eddin Ayouch who advocates the issue claimed that Darija is understood by the ultimate proportion of people and it could simplify the process of learning. On the other hand, Abdellah El Aroui opposes Ayouchs proposal, and explained that Standard Arabic is the language of the divine and is linguistically rich. El Aroui argued that Darija is not qualified to cover Sciences and Academia, because it lacks rules and standard practices in writing and syntax.

    Whats next?

    After the constitutional recognition of Tamazight, Morocco will, today or tomorrow, recognize that preserving its history and identity is a result of promoting its language. We are often aware that implementing foreign languages is a key solution to overcome joblessness, and also help us learn new cultures while expanding our discovery to the world, in addition to introducing our country the best possible way to foreigners.

    Yet, our language policy lacks principles and planning. The language panorama in Morocco is witnessing a real crisis in all aspects. Yet it is not time to lay blame or initiate proposals. Rather, it is time to establish a clear and well-oriented policy which takes into consideration the promotion of Moroccos cultural heritage and identity, as well as the need to adapt to global changes using suitable communication techniques to achieve growth and prosperity for the country.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

    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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    race of Morocco

    Taroudant, Morocco- Following are the results of the first round of the 2014 FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) that took place Sunday on the circuit Moulay El Hassan in Marrakech.

    Race 1

    1. José Lopez (ARG/Citroën C-Elysée) 24:40.950

    2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Citroën C-Elysée) à 0.713 3. Yvan Muller (FRA/Citroën C-Elysée) à 1.607 4. Tom Chilton (GBR/Chevrolet Cruze) à 8.222 5. Dusan Borkovic (SRB/Chevrolet Cruze) à 11.849 6. Tiago Monteiro (POR/Honda Civic) à 20.495) 7. Mehdi Bennani (MAR/Honda Civic) à 25.111 8. Hugo Valente (FRA/Chevrolet Cruze) à 29.953 9. Norbert Michelisz (HUN/Honda Civic) à 44.583 10. James Thompson (GBR/Lada Granta) à 48.596 15. Gianni Morbidelli (ITA/Chevrolet Cruze) à deux tours Meilleur tour: Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Citroën C-Elysée) en 1:43.777 Race 2 1. Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Citroën C-Elysée) en 47:50.589 2. José Lopez (ARG/Citroën C-Elysée) à 4.321 3. Hugo Valente (FRA/Chevrolet Cruze) à 7.598 4. Tom Chilton (GBR/Chevrolet Cruze) à 18.305 5. Mehdi Bennani (MAR/Honda Civic) à 18.331 6. Mikhail Kozlovskiy (RUS/Lada Granta) à 19.757 7. Gianni Morbidelli (ITA/Chevrolet Cruze) à 23.117 8. Franz Engstler (GER/BMW E90) à 38.957 9. John Filippi (FRA/Seat Leon) à 48.611 10. Pasquale Di Sabatino (ITA/BMW E90) à 50.553 11. Tiago Monteiro (POR/Honda Civic) à deux tours Meilleur tour: José Lopez en 1:43.704 - Classement général après la 1re épreuve 1. José Maria Lopez (ARG/Citroën C-Elysée) 48 points 2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA/Citroën C-Elysée) 47 pts 3. Tom Chilton (GBR/Chevrolet Cruze) 27 4. Hugo Valente (FRA/Chevrolet Cruze) 19 5. Yvan Muller (FRA/Citroën C-Elysée) 17 6. Mehdi Bennani (MAR/Honda Civic) 16 7. Dusan Borkovic (SRB/Chevrolet Cruze) 11 8. Tiago Monteiro (POR/Honda Civic) 8 9. Mikhail Kozlovskiy (RUS/Lada Granta) 8 10. Gianni Morbidelli (ITA/Chevrolet Cruze) 6

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    Casablanca- “Stop kissing pupils,” the head of the Moroccan government, Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane said, addressing Moroccan teachers on Monday, during the first national debate on the draft of the integrated public policy for the protection of children.

    According to daily Al Massae, Benkirane he asked in outrage Moroccan teachers to “stop kissing pupils and respect their bodies.”

    During the debate, the head of the government was not the only one who expressed outrage against the dangers faced by Moroccan children. The Minister of Solidarity, Family and Social Development, Mrs. Bassima Hakkaoui, also denounced all sorts of abuses that Moroccan children face in Morocco.

    "Children have the right to enjoy a normal life,” said the Minister, according to the same source, “and any verbal abuse against them must be criminalized.”

    Benkirane also called for the criminalization of verbal abuse against children born as a result of an illegal relationship, according to daily Bayane Al Yaoume.

    The head of the government called on the Ministry of Justice to prescribe the maximum penalties against anyone who abuses children, according to the same source.

    For its part, daily Akhbar Al Yaoum highlighted the militant way in which Benkirane defended abandoned children in Morocco during the debate, and his indignation against  the recent scandal in an orphanage in Rabat, in which the director was accused of sexually abusing children.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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

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    Rabat- A majority of the public believes that head of parliament Abdelilah Benkirane guides the government well,  and Minister of Health El Houssein Louardi is the most popular minister in the government, according to a new survey.

    In a new survey for L’economiste of over 1000 people from different regions in Morocco, SUNERGIA Group finds that Abdelilah Benkirane is viewed as a good leader, close to the people and a man of his word in public opinion.

    The survey says that 55% of the 1000 people included in the poll said that Abedlilah Benkirane the government well, whereas 30% said the opposite, and 13% said that they don’t know.

    Approval rating of Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane

    When asked whether Benkirane is a man of his word or not,  43% said “yes”, but 36% believed that he doesn’t respect his promises, while 21% expressed their inability to judge Benkirane.

    According to the survey 51% of people believe that Benkirane is close to the people and feels their suffering; in contrast 36% said that the head of government doesn’t feel the people’s suffering, whereas 13% were neutral.

    The government’s most and least popular ministers

    Minister of Health  El Houssein Louardi has become the most popular minister in the current government (18%) , followed by Mustapha Ramid (15%) , Minister of Justice and Human Rights, and the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Logistics, Aziz Rebbah (10%).

    On the other hand, the least popular in the public opinion are Ahmed Toufiq, Minister for Islamic Affairs (1%), Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister of Solidarity and Social Development (1%), and Minister of State Abdellah Baha (0%).

    The survey explained that most of the people interviewed expressed much apathy toward ministers in general. In particular, 14% of people interviewed said that none of the ministers deserve commendation, while 39% expressed their lack of preference for any of the government’s ministers.

     Edited by Jessica Rohan

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

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    An earthquake of low magnitude shakes many Moroccan cities

    Taroudant, Morocco- An earthquake of low magnitude shook the Moroccan city of Fez at about 9 am today.

    Reporters from the city told MWN that the earthquake was of low magnitude, but as of the time of publication, the National Institute of Geo – physics of the National Centre for Scientific and Technical Research had not announced the measurment.

    "Everybody felt the earth shaking under their feet," said a resident of the city.

    The same source said that the earthquake had also hit other cities in the same region like Ifrane and Azrou. Thankfully no casualties or material damages have been reported. It is worth mentioning that an earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale was recorded the same day last year (Tuesday April 16, 2013) in Ifrane province (60 km from Fez). The worst recent earthquake recorded in Morocco was that of the coastal city of Al Houceima, on the northern edge of the Rif Mountains. The tragic earthquake was of magnitude 6,4 MI, and caused about 628 deaths, 926 injuries, the destruction 2,539 homes, and more than 15,000 people were left homeless.

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

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    Aerial view of King Hassan II mosque of Casablanca August 27. The mosque, built on land gained from ..

    Casablanca- Travel website Smarter Travel has recently published a list of 10 places it considers as the “most disappointing” destinations in the world. Casablanca has made it to the list.

    Casablanca, Morocco’s economic capital is a “soulless” city, according to Smarter Travel. According to the website, Casablanca is only a transitory station, unlike other places in the Northern African kingdom, and is thus one of the "10 most disappointing" destinations in the world. 

    “Many international flights to Morocco arrive in Casablanca, but many visitors wish that their flight had kept right on going. This very commercial city is mostly office buildings and has been called "soulless" by many tourists. Transit here, but keep on going to the rest of Morocco if you want a more authentic experience,” says the survey.

    In addition to Casablanca, the top teen “most disappointing destinations in the world” includes Gibraltar (UK), the Niagara Falls in New York, Temple Bar in Dublin, California’s Hollywood, Nassau, in Bahamas, Liberty Island in New York, Frankfurt in Germany, Florida’s famous Walt Disney World, and Las Vegas.

    The survey, however, doesn't says what are the criteria it used to arrive to such a conclusion or whether it based its ranking on the opinions expressed by travelers.

    In another survey published by American Magazine WeatherWise, Morocco’s largest city ranked 3rd best weather place in the world. 

    Referring to weather condition in Casablanca, the survey says: “Strongly moderated by cold currents of the Atlantic Ocean, the weather of the northwestern coast of Morocco experiences little seasonal variability and extremely mild temperatures year round. According to World Meteorological Organization data for Casablanca, which lies in the heart of this region, January experiences an average daily high of 63°F and a mean nighttime low of 45°F.”

    Edited by Melissa Smyth

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    Moroccan tomatoes exported to the EU (Photo courtesy

    Marrakech- While EU Commissioner Stefan Fule in 2012 hailed the EU-Morocco agreement on the liberalization of trade in agricultural products, fish and fishery products as a sign of the EUs credibility in advancing relations with its southern neighbor, hat credibility now seems to be in doubt.

    Moroccan press today carried reports that yesterday the Council of Europe endorsed the adoption of the Common Agricultural policy (CAP). The Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch described the impact of the implementation of the CAP, if it is followed to its full extent, as potentially catastrophic for sales of Moroccan fruit and vegetables.

    How can the EU Parliament at one moment ratify an agricultural agreement supporting the sale of Moroccan fruit and vegetables in Europe and then just a year later seemingly abrogate it by adopting a new CAP?

    The EU is a union of different states with different interests, and its parliament often sees many long drawn out arguments. It is quite capable of holding two views on the same policy. There is no doubt that the EU foreign policy commitment to the special relationship with Morocco is strong and sincerely held. However, there was sustained opposition in many quarters, especially Spanish and French farmers, to the importation of Moroccan fruit and vegetables into the EU because Moroccan labor costs are much lower than Europes, and Spanish and French farmers are heavily subsidized by the EU.

    The adoption of the CAP could mean that Moroccan tomatoes exported at a price of 2 dirhams could rise to 4 dirhams according to a report in Les Ecos and this would make the price of Moroccan products uncompetitive.

    Historically the CAP has been a protectionist policy to benefit EU farmers and their produce. It started when food was scarce after the Second World War, and the goal of the policy over the years was to keep farmers on their land and to protect their way of life.  The policy was originally about food security, and then it became a matter of butter mountains and wine lakesEU bureaucracy gone mad, the hoarding of surpluses and the selling off of surplus products at historically low pricesdumping, as it is typically referred to. 

    The CAP was deeply unpopular in England and hurt some farmers but helped others. The British fishing industry was destroyed by EU policy and even now there is a strong element in the UK, notably the UKIP party, which  wants to leave the EU, and now is calling for a referendum on the UK membership in the EU.  This may or may not happen.

    Mr. Akhannouch and the Moroccan government stood its ground over the EU-Morocco fishing agreement, which was passed by the EU parliament and ratified by the Council of Ministers. The Agreement on Moroccan fruit and vegetables was part of the same understanding and was also ratified. The Moroccan government will stand its ground again and hopefully a compromise will be reached. The EUs director of agriculture Jerzy Plewa will be in Rabat for talks on 23 April.

    The EUs strong support for Morocco and the special relationship is there, but so is a very strong farmers lobby which is fighting for their markets in a recession that hit Europe. However, the European parliament has made a clear commitment to Moroccan fruit and vegetable exports and supporting employment for Moroccan agricultural workers.

    The prospect of the CAP abolishing the advantage freely given to Morocco in an exchange of agreed benefits on either side should be honored. Otherwise the EUs credibility that Stefan Fule hailed in 2012 would definitely be in question and would have severe consequences for the Neighborhood policy. There will most likely be a compromise.  The EU is a world of often conflicting deals and negotiations. 

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    Rabat- The Meridian International Center and Gallup released a new U.S.-Global Leadership Project this week, which found that the U.S.  Leadership approval rating lost 15 points in Morocco in 2013.

    It seems like Moroccans’ opinions on US leadership fluctuate from year to year. Although Moroccan approval of US global leadership decreased in 2013, it is still the highest of any Arab country after Mauritania.

    The project, which included 160 countries, found that U.S approval leadership rating in Morocco has lost 15 points in the last year, from 33% in 2012 to 15% in 2013.

    Still, “the majority of Moroccans (59%) did not have an opinion about U.S. leadership. Residents of Morocco were, however, nearly twice as likely to disapprove (27%) as approve (15%) of U.S. leadership,” the survey said.

    Notably, after the White House’s leadership popularity in Morocco lost only 3 points from 2009 to 2010, regaining5 points in 2011, support for America’s leadership lost 18 point between 2012-2013 going down from 33 to 15%

    Morocco’s approval decrease (-15) ranked the kingdom among the ten biggest losses in approval in the world in 2012, alongside South Africa (-16), Nigeria (-17), Ghana (-17), Angola (-20) and Madagascar (-23).

    According to Gallup and Meridian, U.S. leadership disapproval was 80% in Palestine, 71% in Lebanon, 69% in Yemen, and 47% in Syria.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    Marrakech- Jnan Amar Polo Club will host the inaugural British Polo Day Morocco in aid of The Eve Branson Foundation on April 19 in Marrakech.

    "On Saturday 19th April, British Polo Day, presented by Land Rover, will bring elegance, style and the best amateur traditions of polo to African soil with the inaugural British Polo Day Morocco," reads a statement made by the organizers.

    The Polo match is being held in aid of The Eve Branson Foundation which supports rural communities in the Atlas Mountains.

    Guests will enjoy a four-day itinerary in Marrakech's most sophisticated hotels, including the Royal Mansour, Riad El Fenn, Kasbah Tamadot and the historic hotel Mamounia where the Galla Dinner and Charity Auction will take place.

    The event will be attended by high-profile celebrities, in addition to players from the British Army, the Moroccan Royal Guard, the British Commonwealth Team and the Jnan Amar Polo Club.

    Polo Day Morocco is an opportunity to showcase British craftsmanship in Morocco with the participation of over 30 British luxury brands such as Land Rover, Hackett, Royal Salute, Justerini & Brooks and many others.

    “The aim of my foundation is to create positive opportunities, working in partnership with each village, to bring about both economic and social transformations in Morocco. The British Polo Day Morocco, hosted by Jnan Amar Polo Club is not only an amazing opportunity to bring all the friends of the Eve Branson Foundation to Marrakech for a fantastic weekend, but also the perfect occasion to raise money for a cause that is very close to my heart,” said Eve Branson.

    Mr. Amar Abdelhadi, founder of Jnan Amar Polo Club included, "we are honored to be working closely with The Eve Branson Foundation in this prestigious charity event and to be a part of the efforts to raise much needed funds for the women and children of the Atlas Mountains."

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    Rabat- Two Journalists for the Moroccan TV channel 2M were arrested on Wednesday and had their equipment confiscated before they were released by the authorities in Algeria.

    Two days earlier, Amnesty International accusedAlgeria of silencing critics and curbing freedom of expression, in particular press freedom in the presidential elections. It seems that  the curbing the freedom of press in Algeria has become a broader suppression of media, as the Algerian authorities prevented Moroccan journalists from covering the presidential elections.

    According to H24 Info, the cameraman and the correspondent from 2M in Oujda were arrested on Wednesday morning in the Houari Boumediene airport. The authorities released them after the journalists had their equipment confiscated until they could get accreditation.

    2M’s journalists immediately went to see an official in the Algerian ministry of Communication to solve the accreditation problem.

    According to the same source, after several hours of waiting, the minister explained to the journalists that they could cover the presidential elections after they got the accreditation from the Algerian embassy in Rabat.

    The journalists tried to object to the official’s decision, explaining that it meant going back to Morocco without covering the elections that were going  be held on Thursday, April 17th.  Yet the minister refused to change his decision, saying “I explained what the law says.”

    On the other hand, deputy director of 2M Samira Sitail said that the journalists followed all the procedures on time in order to obtain their accreditation from the Algerian embassy in Morocco. “But they did not get any response,” said Sitail.

    According to H24 Info  the TV channel’s demands to obtain accreditation from the Algerian embassy in Rabat to cover the presidential elections in Algeria “were denied without explanation.”

    The same source added that Algeria promised the TV officials they would approve their journalists’ accreditations when they arrived at the Algerian airport.

    Yet the Moroccan journalists did not find their accreditation waiting for them in the Algerian airport; instead, they found the policemen waiting to confiscate their cameras and send them back to Morocco without covering the presidential elections.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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    Le délégué interministériel aux droits de l'Homme, Mahjoub El Haiba,  intervient, mardi (22/10/13) à Rabat, lors d?une journée d?étude sur la convention du Conseil de l?Europe relative à la protection des enfants contre l?exploitation et les abus sexuels.

    Rabat - Morocco's interaction with the UN human rights system is "a strategic choice", said on Thursday Morocco's inter-ministerial delegate for human rights, Mahjoub El Haiba.

    El Haiba, who was guest to MAP forum, stressed that this interaction is part of the commitment made by Morocco to consolidate human rights respect in the country.

    He stressed that between 2003 and 2012, Morocco has presented a total of seven periodical reports to the organizations stemming from treaties which deal with a wide range of subjects, including the fight against all forms of racial discrimination.

    In the same vein, he pointed out that Morocco has received since 2000 a total of nine visits by officials of the UN special procedures.

    Al Haiba went on that Morocco is the only country in the region that interacts positively with the UN human rights council's special procedures and is among few countries that submit in a periodical manner national reports to the treaties organizations and to the UN Human rights council.

    The Moroccan human rights score is judged by criteria applied to the most advanced nations, he noted, recalling the important number of reports submitted, since early 80's, on Morocco's human rights and "Morocco's commitment to implement recommendations".

    The Kingdom has resolutely opted for consolidating human rights, he stated, noting, in this context, the implementation of most recommendations adopted by the Justice and reconciliation commission, set up to handle past human rights abuses.

    El Haiba stressed that difficulties of interacting with the UN human rights system are associated with the multiplication of mechanisms, the overlapping of competences and access to some mechanisms in addition to internal constraints linked to the consolidation of coordination mechanisms, training and promotion of the human rights culture.

    He insisted in this context that Morocco was among the first four countries to conduct the universal periodical review and submitted between 2003 and 2012, seven periodical reports on various themes, including the fight against all forms of racial discrimination.

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