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Morocco News meets the World

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    Australian Shelley Segal released song about Morocco

    Casablanca- After her visit to Morocco in 2007, during which she had the opportunity to go to Marrakech and Essaouira, the Australian singer Shelley Segal released a single along with a music video entitled "Morocco.”

    Part of her upcoming album An Easy Escape, the singer highlights her experience in Morocco. But the young artist is being criticized for “defaming” the kingdom in her song.

    “I was inspired to write ‘Morocco’ when I visited Marrakech and Essaouira,” Shelly told Australian website Tone Deaf, “I was completely blown away by the beauty of the country and the colorful, carefree, fun time that was available to me as a tourist. Slowly as the trip went on I began to see some of the darker sides of what it was like for many who lived there.”

    The “darker sides” Shelly apparently highlights in her song are mainly sexual harassment, illegal substances and poverty. The video clip of the song is set in Marrakech.

    Suffice it to read the comments on the song posted on various social networks to realize that Shelly’s new song has infuriated many Moroccans, mainly because of the “dark sides” Shelly casts light on in her song.

    Uploaded on May 5 to Shelly Segal’s official YouTube Channel, the video has garnered more than 37, 500 views so far. However, the predominant dissatisfaction with the content of her song is clearly perceptible in the number of “thumbs down” it amassed.

    While one cannot determine the identity of those who have disliked Shelly’s video clip on YouTube, the comment section clearly shows that many Moroccans are not happy with it.

    Some of the derogatory comments on the video labeled the Australian singer as a “big cow” and a “racist.” One of the comments reads, “It's not up to her (Shelly) though to shout out loud what we already know and try to fix.” Another YouTube user points out that that Shelly’s visit to Morocco was too short for her to claim full knowledge of life in the kingdom.

    But another group of Moroccans stood in defense of Shelly and her song. Their comments varied between both appreciation of her talent as a singer and gratitude towards her for shedding light on what she described as Morocco’s “dark side."

    “Yes we need more people like you to show the world our miserable life,” reads one of the comments posted on the video.

    “Come on folks, she just highlighted what is really happening in our country, you should learn to say thank you, instead of insulting her,” another YouTube user said.

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

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    Fez  - The 3rd international gathering of the followers of Tariqa Tijania opened, on Wednesday in Fez, to discuss the future of this Sufi brotherhood and means to spread tolerant Islam.

     The official opening was marked by a message by HM King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, to disciples and followers of this Tariqa, as well as religious figures from 50 countries, mainly African and Arab-Islamic states, present in Fez which hosts the mausoleum of the founding father of the Tariqa Sheikh Sidi Ahmed Tijani.

     This forum follows those held in 2007 and 2009 on the occasion of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the death of Sheikh Sidi Ahmed Tijani.

     The meeting is attended by nearly 1000 representatives of Tijania from 47 countries who will be brought together during 3 days in the Fez Zawiya Tijania to read Quran, pray and take part in conferences on the spiritual aspect and the current situation of the brotherhood.

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    Colombian Senate Denies Adoption of Resolution on Western Sahara

    Bogota- The Colombian Senate has officially denied having passed a resolution or even a proposal on the 'Western Sahara', said official sources.

    According to a statement signed by Secretary General of the Senate, Gregorio El Jach Pacheco, an "remark" was filed to the office of the Senate by a group of pro-separatist leftist senators, noting that the document "does not meet the requirements to be considered by the Senate" and "does not even have the status of a proposal."

    "Given the nature of this remark, no further action has been made by the Senate. It has not been given to any authority," says Pacheco, noting that "under Article 189 of the Colombian Constitution, the definition and orientation of foreign action remain under the exclusive jurisdiction of the head of State.

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    Moroccan islam

    Washington - A study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a U.S. think tank based in Washington, highlighted the uniqueness of Moroccan Islam as a force for regional stability, noting that the essence of the religious reference of the Kingdom stems from the Maliki rite and Achaarite doctrine that draw on the virtues of moderation.

    "The Moroccan uniqueness in matters of religion is based on four principles: the centrality of the Commander-of-the-faithful institution which shields Morocco from any sort of political manipulation in the religion, the Maliki rite and the Achaarite doctrine as a bulwark against extremism, besides Sufism which extols the virtues of spirituality and positive action on the ground," said the author of this article, Haim Malka.

    Malka, deputy director of the Middle East program within CSIS and a prominent member of this prestigious research center, said Morocco has, in the past decade,  adopted a "comprehensive" strategy that focused on reforming the religious field to counter extremist ideologies, noting that the Moroccan approach can inspire the countries of the region which seek to protect their societies against the influence of violent extremist movements.

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    TIZI Initiative to Award 20 Moroccan Young Leaders for 2014

    Casablanca- Tariq Ibn Ziyad Initiative (TIZI) will hold the second edition of the TIZI Leadership Day on May 24, at the Hassania School of Public Works (EHTP) in Casablanca, during which 20 new distinguished Moroccan leaders will be awarded the 2014 TIZI Award.

    The second edition of TIZI Leadership Day will be dedicated to fostering the culture of leadership in Morocco, as well as creating favorable conditions for the emergence of new leaders. The TIZI Awards, for its part, will unveil 20 new Moroccan leadership talents representing 5 different categories. Their names will be included in a directory that will be published afterwards.

    Other talented Moroccan leaders will represent arenas such as entrepreneurship and innovation, sports, arts, education and research, political action and media.

    "These leaders epitomize the talent, diversity and potential of Morocco,” said Mohamed Alami Berrada, Vice-President in charge of TIZI Leadership Institute. “This is to show recognition for their commitment and for their achievements and also to build a model to give hope to thousands of young people.”

    The event will be opened by former Minister of Commerce, Industry and ICT, Ahmed Reda Chami, who will highlight the challenges of leadership for an emerging country like Morocco.

    The event will also feature a round table that will bring together many celebrities around the theme, “Moroccan leaders, where are they? Who are they? What do they do?” The fields of leadership addressed during the round table will be sports, social action, arts, business and politics. These realms will be probed in an attempt to see if they create favorable conditions for the emergence of new Moroccan leaders.

    Tariq Ibn Ziyad Initiative, which has emanated from civil society and has been widely supported by Moroccan youth, principally aims at fostering political action, promoting leadership and providing training for young Moroccan leaders.

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    Taroudant, Morocco- Three Moroccan women took to the street almost naked this week in the neighborhood of Ben Saleh, in the old medina of Marrakech, according to the Moroccan daily Annass in its edition of Wednesday, May 14.

    Along the lines of the radical feminist exhibitionist group FEMEN, the three Moroccan topless girls danced in public seductively while people were coming out of the mosque.

    The same source added that the scene shocked residents of the neighborhood as the three women refused to get dressed and attacked anyone approaching them.

    Witnesses said that the women were probably under the influence of drugs.

    While Morocco has never seen a FEMEN motivated topless protest, Femen France’s Page posted last year a picture allegedly of a “Moroccan” topless girl holding a banner that reads “FREE FEMEN”.

    Shot on the roof of what it looks architecturally like a Moroccan coastal city, the fan page claimed that the image was for the “First topless in Morocco”.

     Arab women’s right activists, including Moroccans did not approve of the way FEMEN activists protest.

     Moroccan pro-democracy activist Zineb Belmkaddem once maintained that using a woman’s naked body to change policy is simply bad for women.

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

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    Morocco Among Top Spenders in Washington

    Fez- A report released by the Washington Post this week revealed that the Moroccan government is one of the leading foreign governments investing millions of dollars into developing relations within the United States government by lobbying members of Congress.

    In 2013, Morocco was the sixth leading country, following nations like the UAE and Germany, to spend money to influence American decision-makers. Last year, Morocco looked to hire lobbyists, at a stiff rate, to represent their interests in Washington D.C.

    Morocco spent close to $4 million in 2013 to sway American policy makers in the inner circle according to the Washington Post. By law, foreign lobbying disclosures require nations to record who they contact and why. One reason that governments, like Morocco, may opt for paid PR could be to make up for weaker links that the country has in their diplomatic ties with the US. 

    Another reason that encourages countries to seek paid diplomatic assistance could be to put more pressure on policy makers in regard to hot-button issues pertaining to a country's foreign interests or issues involving the international community. For Morocco, one of the main aims of lobbyists is to focus on persuading American congressmen to support them on the question of the "Western Sahara."

    Foreign lobbying clients for Morocco include the Moroccan National Tourist Office Headquarter in Morocco which spent nearly $1 million on lobbying in 2013. Meanwhile, the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco (GOM) handed out over $ 3,3 million to lobbyists in 2013 with the aim to, “counsel the principal on US policies of concern… and maintain contact, as necessary, with the members of Congress and their staff, executive branch officials and non-governmental organizations,” according to a report by the financial data-tracking tool, Foreign Influence Explorer.

    These lobbying clients maintain contact with and seek to appeal to officials in the US government. Last year, more than 900 names appeared on the list of contacts for Moroccan lobbying firms. Names on the list include US Senators that sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Representatives from the House Intelligence Committee as well as a slew of other officials from the US Department of State, the White House, the US Consulate in Casablanca, together with hundreds of press contacts within the US media.

    The purpose of sustaining such close relations with these members of the US government is reportedly to discuss, “US-Morocco relations and the importance of Morocco's relations with US Congress,” as well as to organize “telephone conferences regarding trying to set up visits on Capitol Hill for Sahrawi human rights witnesses,” according to Foreign Influence Explorer.

    The Moroccan lobbyist teams work to provide direction to their contacts in the US government on topics such as the State Department Report on Western Sahara. The lobbyists also meet with US officials to discuss strategic counsel to the GOM on their bilateral relations with the United States. The lobbyists work to brief members and staff of the US Congress on “issues related to US-Morocco relations, to include: General Moroccan-American relations, Political reform and human rights developments in Morocco, US assistance issues related to Morocco, Morocco's role in the Middle East Peace Process, Developments in North Africa, and Morocco and the Western Sahara,” according to the report.

    Among foreign clients lobbying on behalf of the Moroccan government there is the Moroccan American Center For Policy, The Gabriel Company, LLC, and Gerson Global Strategic Advisors LLC. A detailed list of the 2013 foreign agents that represent Morocco can be found on the Foreign Influence Explorer site.

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

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    managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde

    Marrakech- In her IMF blog, Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde recorded her impressions of her recent visit to Morocco, noting how well the economy has performed in the face of global recession and the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

    Morocco has remained stable whilst its neighbors have been in turmoil, and further economic reforms in Morocco are on the way.

    The head of the IMF noted that the problem of youth unemployment- which in MENA countries stands at 15 million people- in Morocco is at 19%, twice the region’s average rate of 9.2%.

    She pointed to the need for solid macroeconomic performance and increased cooperation between the public and private sectors to create jobs and called for an inclusive economy to support growth. In her speech in Rabat, she called for growing the middle class and increasing the number of small and medium enterprises, and for the government to encourage balanced economic growth and entrepreneurship.

    She said that the private sector can only succeed if there is an improved business environment, less red tape and freer economy for young entrepreneurs through better financing provisions. As noted by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, the public sector cannot cater to all graduates at a time when government budgets are being cut.

    The Moroccan government is working hard to meet these conditions and remains the best positioned in North Africa for developing the private sector.

    Christine Lagarde called for easier entry for young people into the job market, skills-based education, (a requirement also noted in King Mohammed VI’s speech on education) and better functioning labor markets. It is not easy to reform an education system, but this is what has to be done to reduce the number of unemployed graduates.

    She said that women account for 66% of college graduates and only 26% were actively employed in the labor market, a ratio which, she pointed out, needed to be improved and could increase considerably Morocco’s GDP.

    In addition, she called for a more inclusive economy, as there is a pronounced wealth distribution gap, and said more transparency would reduce corruption, which undermines social cohesion. She called on the Moroccan government to implement structural reforms to improve competitiveness and economic growth and increase the number of jobs. This, as she acknowledges, is not an easy task.

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

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    AC Milan to Sign Morocco’s Taarabt On a Permanent Deal

    Rabat- Head coach of the national team Badou Zaki has announced on Friday his 30-man squad for the pre-competition training camp in Portugal, with AC Milan’s Adel Taarabt as the most notable absentee.

    “Taarabt was left out because he did not respond to any of the calls made by the coach and the crew,” said Badou Zaki in a press conference held in Rabat.

    The national team will play two friendly matches during its training camp in Portugal, one against Mozambique and the second against Angola. Upon their return to Morocco, the Atlas Lions will play an extra friendly against Senegal before they pack for a trip to Russia to play against the Russian team in the capital city of Moscow.

    Squad in full:

    Goalkeepers: Khalid Askri (RCA), Mohamed Amsif (FC Augsboug), Karim Fegrouch (Alien Limassol), Anass Zniti (FAR).

    Defenders: Merouane Da costa (Sivasspor), Mehdi Benatia (AS Roma), Zouhair Feddal (AS Sienne), Abdelhamid El Kaoutari (Montpellier), Mohamed Oulhaj (RCA), Mohamed Aberhoun (MAT), Abderrahim Achchakir (FAR), Ayoub El Khaliqi (WAC), Zakaria El Hachimi (RCA), Zakarya Bergdich (Valladolid), Achraf Lazaar (Palerme).

    Midfielders: Issam El Adoua (Levante), Jamel Ait Ben Idir (Auxerre), Mounir El Obbadi (Monaco), Mohamed Berrabeh (WAC), Issam Erraki (RCA), Nordin Amrabat (Malaga), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liège), Abdelaziz Barrada (Al Jazira), Mbark Boussoufa (Lokomoiv Moscou), Omar El Kaddouri (Torino), Younes Belhanda (Dynamo de Kiev), Aatif Chahechouhe (Sivasspor).

    Forwards: Abderrazzak Hamdallah (Guanghzou RF), Youssef El Arabi (Granada), Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace).

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    Rabat- Encouraging gas indications were found in Sidi Mokhtar (Essaouira province), as part of oil test drill carried out by the Longreach Oil & Gas Ltd company, announced on Friday the national office of hydrocarbons and mining (ONHYM).

    The Kamar 1 drilling, which was carried out by British gas exploration company "Longreach Oil & Gas Ltd", found encouraging gas indications at two levels in the Jurassic rocks, said the office in a statement on its website, noting that the first level was detected in the drilling mud, while the second was registered by electric logs.

    These indications are encouraging signs to continue the zone's exploration through 3D seismic acquisition and the drilling of other wells, said ONHYM.

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    convicted for homosexuality

    Taroudant- A Moroccan court convicted six Moroccan men for up to three years in prison for homosexuality on Monday, according to AFP.

    Amid the growing debate on sexual freedoms in the kingdom and demands for abolishing Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, the six men were convicted in the north-western city of Fkih Ben Saleh, 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Casablanca, after the father of one of the defendants accused five other “of coercing his son to engage in “deviant” acts,” according to AFP.

    The six defendants were condemned for up to three years in prison for accusations ranging from "homosexuality, inciting prostitution, mediating in prostitution and being drunk in public," said Ahmed Amin Chaabi, from the Moroccan League for the Defense of Human Rights, according to the same source.

    Rachid Berrada, a Casablanca-based businessmen, called for a change of Moroccan law regarding homosexuality.

    “I think we have to change our mind and our laws about many things such as homosexuality, heritage, and other social issues,” Berrada told MWN.

    But this opinion is not shared by Redouane Tahri,  a teacher of philosophy and a researcher in Psychological stress and sexual life, who points out that Morocco is a Muslim country where homosexuality or any other forms of sexual intercourse out of marriage should be forbidden.

     “Homosexuality or any sexual intercourse out of wedlock are forbidden for many reasons, especially since Morocco is a Muslim country and Islam forbids such acts,” Tahri told MWN.

    Less than two weeks before the International Day against Homophobia, held on May 17 every year, a group of people called “ASWAT” Group for sexual minorities launched a campaign for the defense of gays and lesbians in Morocco.

    The group whose motto is “Love is not a crime” calls for the protection of the rights of same-sex minorities in the kingdom, and launched a petition entitled “Say No to homophobia in Morocco” to demand the abolition of Article 489 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes “licentious acts against nature with an individual of the same sex.”

    Under Article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, sexual acts between people of the same gender are punishable by between six months and three years in prison.

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

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    Washington, D.C. - The Moroccan government, led by Prime Minister (PM) Abdelilah Benkirane, is in state of denial when it comes to press freedom in the country. By refusing to address specific cases of journalists’ harassments and restrictions on freedom of association, the Justice and Development Party (PJD)’s government is not fulfilling its promises to its electorate and further damaging the image of Morocco already battered by recent negative reports.

    PM Benkirane’s recent criticism of international rights organization’s coverage of Morocco is misplaced and unwarranted. In fact, it reveals a level of misunderstanding on how these entities work and “rate” countries. Instead of criticizing Freedom House (FH) and Amnesty International (AI), the Moroccan government ought to answer the specific cases cited in these organizations’ reports.

    As expected, the misguided decision to persecute Ali Anouzla, the editor of the Arabic edition of the website, in connection with the publication of an article that linked to an Al-Qaeda video, has been generating criticism and indignation in human rights circles.

    The recent decision by “the authorities” to deny the newly formed Moroccan NGO, Freedom Now (FN), a permit to operate will once again shine a bad light on Morocco’s rights record. Several activists and independent journalists, including Anouzla, formed FN to defend freedom of expression in the country.

    This official rejection substantiates AI and FH reports of “excessive restrictions on access to information” and will “be a clear breach of international guarantees of freedom of association.”

    Mr. Mustapha Khalfi, Minister of Communications and Government Spokesman’s evasive answers regarding details of these cases are the most troubling aspect of the PJD government response to AI and FH reports. Mr. Khalfi, a former editor-in-chief of his party’s newspaper “Attajdid” and one time champion of press freedom before joining the government, should sympathize with Mr. Anouzla and support groups like “Freedom Now”.

    Mr. Khalfi should explain to the Moroccan public and international organizations the reasons behind the persecution of Mr. Anouzla in a “criminal court” and the legal justification for the denial to grant Freedom Now the authorization to form. In avoiding answers and playing the “I don’t know” game, the PJD becomes accessory to these disproportionate interference with freedom of expression.

    As the head of the government, PM Benkirane should communicate to the people the “organism” that makes the decisions to persecute journalists. It is a “legitimate public interest”. In a “rule of law” country, journalists should not be penalized for performing their job.

    Failure to support independent journalism is a step backwards for Morocco and its government. It implies a lack of free press and gives the impression that the non-conformist editorial line will be restrained.

    Moroccan journalists and human rights activists find Mr. Khalfi and PM Benkirane’s recent statements avoiding responsibility disappointing and disquieting. While there are notable rights improvements in the country, the targeting of the few “nonpartisan” journalists undermines the officials’ claims of press reforms.

    Even though a PJD minister runs the Ministry of Justice, the government has little control over the judiciary. Therefore, the judicial decision regarding press freedom litigations are made outside the ministry in charge. Nevertheless, as Prime Minister, Mr. Benkirane should do his job in explaining the decision-making process that produce these harmful measures. Thus far, his government’s handling of these cases has been counterproductive.

    Morocco came a long way in liberalizing media and relaxing press regulations; however, the cases of Anouzla and Freedom Now are troubling and undermine rights reforms in the Kingdom. While there is no a crackdown on freedom of speech in Morocco, these instances display the limits of freedom of speech and association.

    The Moroccan authorities should drop all criminal and civil charges against Mr. Anouzla and grant Freedom Now the permit to operate legally and freely. Such decisions will enrich Morocco’s media landscape and revitalize the image of the Kingdom among international human rights organizations.

    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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    Beni Mella - King Mohammed VI inaugurated, on Friday, the new Beni Mellal airport following its reconstruction and revamp totaling 195.5 million dirhams.

    The project, under an agreement signed on April 1, 2008, under the chairmanship of HM the King, is part of actions undertaken by the sovereign for opening up and enhancing access to the Tadla-Azilal region, while ensuring a global, balanced and sustainable development.

    Located eight kilometers north-western the city, the new facility mirrors HM the King's will to provide for Tadla-Azilal an airport that would enable developing international air traffic with European countries to attract more tourists, as well as with those hosting large expatriates' communities from this Moroccan central region.

    This project consists of building a passenger terminal and a control tower, upgrading the runway and its surroundings, fence extension and constructing a road access and a parking for vehicles.

    With a capacity of 150,000 passengers yearly, the new terminal (1,500 square meters) has high-tech equipment meeting international standards in terms of security and quality of services, a public hall, a departure area under the customs' authority with a VIP lounge and an arrival zone.

    The building works also included the construction of a new control tower and purchasing modern navigation systems and high-intensity runway lights for guiding aircrafts in flight and night take-off and landing.

    The airstrip was extended, reinforced and broadened (2,500 m x 45m) so that it can receive medium-haul aircrafts type B737-800.

    The development of the Beni Mellal airport, stretching over a surface area 170 hectares, falls within the framework of the implementation of the strategic plan by the National Office for Airports.

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    10 Moroccan Salafists Condemned for Attempting to Murder a Psychic

    Casalanca- Ten Moroccan Salafists were recently sentenced by the Court of Appeal of Sale to five-ten years in prison for attempting to murder a psychic.

    Among the 10 defendants, two were sentenced to 10 years, three to 8 years and the rest of them to five years in jail.

    According to news website Yabiladi, the 10 defendants were also found to be plotting terrorist attacks. They had allegedly planned to set up a camp for training terrorists in the Rif Mountains.

    According to the same source, the police arrested the Salafists as they were trying to enter the house of a woman known to be a psychic. After their arrest, the suspects were found in possession of two machetes, two hoods and two strings to strangle their targeted victim.

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    15-year Old Moroccan Girl Commit Suicide

    Fez- "Nothing would render you a great person except a great pain..Not every falling is scoffed at, and the rain has to fall if the flower is to grow." These were the last words of a young girl who committed suicide early this week after she was a victim of bullying.

    Meryem Hacik, a 15-year old student in Casablanca, committed suicide, after she was bullied by her peers at school. Meryem is not the first girl to be bullied at school nor will it be the last. But her deep pain made her surrender to depression and take her own life.

    Bullying in Morocco is so rampant that it has become a part of Moroccans' daily routine. Ingrained in social, cultural practice, bullying takes many dimensions that can be relatively harsh depending on social class, gender, place and age. Ask a Moroccan and he or she will tell you that either they were victims of bullying or were a bully.

    Meryem's suicide is a tragic response of a girl who could no longer stand her social vulnerability. "They scorn me with being from the karyane [a poorly equipped neighborhood made of slums] since we moved to the karyane, " she told her father, according to a video report on 2M TV.

    "They told her go, you who live in the karyane. Bullies were always scorning her," her mother told 2M TV. She once told her mother: "You should not have given birth to us since you live in slums."

    Meryem was psychologically devastated due to the repetitive bullying and the intensity of verbal abuse she was undergoing on daily basis for no other reason than her social class. Poverty and social vulnerability were her only curse. But since when was poverty a source of cruel disrespect? This reminds us of the pain and suffering the outcast in marginalized areas endure every day.

    The question here is how the scourge of bullying became socially accepted? How did school, supposedly an educational institution for instruction and discipline become a hotbed for intimidation and social conflicts? Why can't our students have extra-curricular activities where they can grow and expose their talents?

    Meryem's death should be a wakeup call for the Moroccan society to reconsider its priorities. Let's face it. Children's souls are empty, parents spend less time with their kids. The latter find solace in social media, video games, drug abuse and other delinquent activities.

    Time has come to put an end to the apathy surrounding this harmful practice. One should not settle for an awareness campaign on YouTube or other social media. What is really needed is willingness to step of our comfort zones and change realities. Let's change mentalities by devoting time and energy at the grassroots level.

    Why don't we launch this campaign [#bullyingisworng] in buses and train stations, in public schools and mosques? Let’s stand up together and repeat this message: bullying is wrong.

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    Hachim Mastour, the Moroccan Messi, world’s top rising star

    Rabat- Dubbed the next Messi and compared to Zinedine Zidane, AC Milan’s 15-year-old Moroccan-Italian Hachim Mastour could make his debut in Serie A against Sassuolo on Sunday after he has been promoted to Clarence Seedorf’s side.

    According to The Guardian, Mastour was taken to the changing rooms where he was greeted and applauded by the first-team squad. He then trained with the first team and scored a goal before the Milan TV cameras.

    AC Milan had to pay a reported €500,000 for Reggiana in the summer of 2012 to sign Mastour and to abort all attempts by other European teams like Inter, R.Madrid, Barcelona and Man City to snatch the skillful trequartista.

    “He has the quality of Robinho, the professionalism of Kaka and the natural ability of Ballotelli,” Milan’s former coach Massimiliano Allegri was quoted as saying about Mastour.

    It is not the first time that Hachim Mastour trains with the senior team since he participated in a training session for the first time in December 2013. He also appeared on six occasions for Italy Under-16s which raises doubts whether he will continue playing for Italy in the long run or choose instead to wear the jersey of his country of origin, Morocco.

    The Moroccan wonderkid who turns 16 next June is undoubtedly a super talented young player. Yet, many reports question whether it is the right decision for him to be promoted to the first team at such an early age, and if can he handle the pressure and media attention that come along with playing for the crowned champions of Europe seven times.

    The kid sensation is also feared to face the same sad fate like other young players who were brought to the spotlights with no little fanfare but were left halfway before reaching their goals. Former Barcelona player Bojan Krikic is just one example among many.

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

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    Winner of the 2014 Quebec Arab Women Awar

    Toronto- Mariama Zouhri, a Harvard scholar and passionate advocate of women and children’s rights, is among the winner of the 2014 Quebec’ Arab Women’s Award (Trophée des Femmes Arabes du Québec). 

    It is rare to have the pleasure of speaking with a woman as accomplished as Mariama Zhouri and it is difficult not to be inspired by all of Mariama’s many accomplishments. And even over the phone, a warmth flows from her voice that immediately captivates me.

    Mariama Zouhri was among the winner of the Quebe Arab Women's AwardOriginally from Salé, Morocco, she’s currently working on her certification in management at Harvard University. As a financial professional, her first master’s degree focused on auditing, risk management, ethics and regulatory issues. She earned a second master’s degree in administration and international management. Mariama is currently residing in Montréal with her 6-year-old daughter Anissa-camilia.

    “People need education, jobs and self-sufficiency—it’s the teach a man to fish idea,” said Mariama Zhouri, a senior manager in KPMG’s management and risk consulting team within the advisory services practice in Montréal. Emphasizing that although money is needed to break the cycles of inequality in Morocco, she believes funds should be put toward education and economic empowerment, not simply given to people in need.

    “Many immigrants send money home to support their relatives,” said Mariama, explaining her philanthropic activities, “but what we need is to help these people find ways to sustain themselves and gain financial independence.” She sponsors a Moroccan family, and supports the Canadian-Moroccan Association for Human Development. She consistently emphasized the importance of education and employment opportunities.

    “I think it’s important for Anissa-Camilia to see how things are in Morocco,” said Mariama, whose frequent visits to Morocco with her daughter made her concerned for her native country’s orphans. She stated her daughter has worried about their meagre living conditions and facilities, and their lack of access to education, and her own concern that many orphan girls are taken from school and married at a young age.”

    “This is true for many poor Moroccan children, even those who have both of their parents, as girls are taken out of school early to help their parents financially. Unless changes are made for families of lower income households, these poor girls cannot break out of such domestic cycles. My daughter saw that the students didn’t even have tables and chairs- they were using old boxes. She had been saving money for an iPod, but changed her mind and gave her money to the school.”

    “We need to encourage girls to pursue their education, and for economic inequalities to be addressed. As a widow at a young age, many people felt sorry for me and didn’t believe my daughter would have the same opportunities as other children. By setting an example for my daughter, I believe Anissa can realize all of her potential.”

    “When you invest in a woman, you invest in an entire family,” said Mariama, describing an inspiring speech she once heard. Hilary Clinton explained that women and children are the foundation of society, inspiring a woman impacts her children, and therefore future generations. Mariama believes that women need to show solidarity for each other, and be supportive of each other.

    “Women tend to not promote themselves and remain silent about their own accomplishments, but they must be encouraged to educate and advance themselves,” she said.

    It’s clear that the obstacles facing economically disenfranchised women and orphans in Morocco are great. However, by following the example of people like Mariama, there is certainly hope that Morocco’s women and children may enjoy a brighter future.

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    King Mohammed VI Inaugurated Khouribga-Beni Mellal Highway

    Rabat- King Mohammed VI inaugurated the Khouribga-Beni Mellal 95 km-highway on Saturday, according to MAP.

    The Khouribga-Beni Mellal highway is an integral part of the global project for constructing the Berrechid-Beni Mellal highway (172 km) which was launched on April 12, 2010.

    The Khouribga-Beni Mellal highway seeks to bring closer the zone to the main economic hubs and link it to a modern infrastructure that offers quality services and security. It will also contribute to speeding up, directly or indirectly, the development of all served regions mainly the Tadla plain, the High Atlas mountains (Azilal) and even the Middle Atlas (Khénifra).

    The Khouribga-Beni Mellal highway is the fruit of a partnership between the Moroccan Motorway Company, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Government of the People's Republic of China.

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    Casablanca - In partnership with the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, the Ministry of Justice organized on Wednesday a study day to review the impact to date of the implementation of the Moroccan Family Code (Moudawana). The study revealed alarming results. 

    Ten years after the implementation of the new Family Code in Morocco, the results are not as positive as the government expected them to be. While the current Family Code was designed to put an end to underage marriage in Morocco by setting the legal age for marriage at 18, underage marriages have significantly increased in number.

    According to the daily Aujourdhui le Maroc, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Mustapha Ramid, declared that the number of underage marriages in Morocco has alarmingly doubled over the past 10 years. The number of child marriagesrose from 18,341 marriages in 2004 to 35,152 in 2013,” said the Minister, according to the same source.

    However, the new Family Code has proven more effective in reducing the rate of polygamy in the kingdom. The lowest rate, 0.26%, was recorded between 2012 and 2013, compared to 2011, in which 0.34% was recorded. The implemented Family Code has proven equally effective in the numbers of reconciliations of married couples on the verge of divorce. Around 8,702 marriages were saved in 2013.

    On the other hand, legal divorce (Tatliq in Moroccan Arabic) reached a new record high in 2013. Legal judgments granting Tatliq reached 40,850 cases as compared to 7,213 cases in 2004," said Mr. Ramid, according to Aujourdhui Le Maroc.

    According to the Minister, men are now increasingly resorting to this type of divorce. Requests from women amounted to 56% last year, while those of men were 44% of the total number of requests,” said the Minister. Edited by Elisabeth Myers © Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

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    King Mohammed VI Arrives in Tunis for an Official Visit

    Tunis- King Mohammed VI, accompanied by Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan and Prince Moulay Rachid arrived, on Friday in Tunis, for an official visit at the invitation of President Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, Maghreb Press reported on Friday.

    At the Tunis-Carthage airport, the King was greeted by President Marzouki.

    During this royal visit, the King will hold official talks with the president of Tunisia.

    The two heads of states will chair the signing ceremony of bilateral agreements related to the public and private sectors.

    The King will also give a speech before the members of the constituent national assembly.

    During this official visit, King Mohammed VI is accompanied by an important delegation including mainly his advisors Taib Fassi Fihri, Fouad Ali El Himma, Yassir Znagui and Abdeltif Menouni.

    The delegation includes also Interior minister Mohamed Hassad, Foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar, minister of Endowments and Islamic affairs Ahmed Toufiq, Economy minister Mohamed Boussaid, minister of national education and vocational training Rachid Belmokhtar, minister of higher education, scientific research and executives' training Lahcen Daoudi, equipment, transportation and logistics minister Aziz Rebbah, industry, trade, investment and digital economy minister Moulay Hafid Elalamy, health minister El Houceine El Ouardi, minister of tourism Lahcen Haddad, minister delegate to the head of government, in charge of civil service and administration modernization Mohamed Moubdie, minister delegate to the minister of energy, mining, water and environment, in charge of the environment Hakima El Haite.

    King Mohammed is also accompanied by a delegation of officials and economic operators representing the public and private sectors, as well as other civil and military figures.

    MWN with Agency

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