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    Taroudant- A Dutch party presented a proposal before the Dutch Parliament calling for the end of the social solidarity convention between Morocco and Netherlands.

    After the Dutch government's controversial decision to reduce the financial allocations of non-resident Moroccan widows and orphans in the Netherlands (a proposal which the Dutch judiciary ruled in favor of) the Dutch Liberal  party has proposed to cancel the convention.

    According to Moroccan news website Alyaoum 24 the Dutch MP Anoushka Schut-Welkzijn will propose to cancel this agreement before the Dutch parliament next Tuesday.

    The same source added that if the Dutch parliament votes on this bill, the compensation of retirees, their widows and children residing in Morocco will be decreased, on the basis that the cost of living in Morocco is cheaper than that in the Netherlands. Last year, the Dutch government reduced non-resident Moroccan widows and orphans' social remunerations by 40%.

    Before the court ruled in favor of Moroccans, the Dutch Social Security Fund proceeded in the reduction in compensations of about 900 Moroccan widows and 4500 children last year.

    According to the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), EMCEMO, the Euro-Mediterranean Center for Migration and Development, has called on the Moroccan government to defend the interests of Moroccan immigrants living in the Netherlands, who are threatened by the "unjust" laws recently enacted by the Dutch government.

    According to the same source, attending a press conference held by a delegation from the center on Tuesday in Rabat was the president of the EMCEMO, Abdou Lamnabhi. He stated that the measures taken by the Dutch authorities are likely to affect the purchasing power of pensioners, allowances allocated to widows and children of immigrants settled in Morocco and the medical coverage they receive.

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 This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed

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    King Mohammed VI takin a stroll in Tunis (video grab)

    Casablanca- King Mohammed VI’s informal walk down the streets of Tunis (Tunisia) has made the headlines of many Tunisian and Arab news outlets. Reactions to the sovereign’s initiative have echoed people’s appreciation and enthusiasm.

    Moroccan private channel 2M recently broadcast a report highlighting both Tunisians and Moroccans’ reactions to the sovereign’s casual walk down the Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis.

    Particularly for the Tunisian people, the Moroccan monarch’s initiative is emblematic of a positive change both in Tunisia and in Moroccan-Tunisian relations.

    For some Tunisians, the King’s initiative affirms the security that Tunisian streets now enjoy. “The fact that the [Moroccan sovereign] walked around without any formalities on a Tunisian avenue shows that Tunisia is a safe country,” a Tunisian young woman told 2M.

    Other Tunisians saw in the king’s initiative a live testament to the good relations between Morocco and Tunisia. “We were very delighted to see your king walking down the avenue without ceremony,” another Tunisian citizen told 2M. “This only shows that relations between our countries are at their best. We welcome our Moroccan brothers anytime,” she added.

    “Humble” is a word that Tunisian citizens frequently used to describe the king’s initiative. “To see the Moroccan sovereign informally walking down Habib Bourguiba Avenue only shows how humble a leader he is,” a middle-aged Tunisian man told 2M.

    “This initiative is unprecedented. It would have taken 5000 police officers for a Tunisian minister’s visit to do the same,” a Tunisian newspaper vendor told 2M in an appreciative tone.

    Moroccans residing in Tunisia also expressed their appreciation of the king’s unprecedented initiative in Tunis. “We were very delighted to see our king walking down the avenue without the customary formalities of official visits. It only affirms that Tunisian streets have now recovered their security,” said a Moroccan national residing in Tunis.

    For their part, Tunisian journalists saw in the king’s initiative a symbol of stability and progress in post-revolution Tunisia. More particularly, the king’s initiative is also expected to have a positive impact on Tunisian tourism. “The king’s informal visit to some Tunisian streets, which has now gone widely viral on several networks and news sources, is the biggest support to tourism in Tunisia,” a Tunisian editor in chief told 2M.


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    Morocco and the High Atlas Foundation Celebrate World Environment Day

    By Yossef Ben-Meir

    Marrakech- World Environment Day is held annually on June 5th under UN auspices to highlight a particular area of environmental concern. The focus this year is on the unique challenges facing the world’s small islands in their battle with rising ocean levels – a far cry, it might seem, from the work of the High Atlas Foundation in Morocco.

    However, two vital messages can be gleaned from our involvement in sustainable development: firstly that diverse systems – ecological and social – are interconnected and ultimately interdependent and secondly, that knowledge applied in one type of environment can - and should - be translated into other situations.

    Climate change is a systemic environmental and social issue and no one measure will reverse its terribly alarming course. As in all environmental and developmental initiatives, sustainably addressing climate change requires both self-determined local actions and national and international commitments and policies that enable individuals and groups from all sectors of society to act in a way consistent with both their interests and that of the world.

    Not to promote the High Atlas Foundation as possessing a model approach – although we believe it to, based on results – we are dedicated day in and day out to realizing the environmental and developmental goals of local Moroccan communities, as well as those of nations where we are invited.

    Additionally we are committed to building partnerships at national and international levels in order to create the necessary awareness of policies so that local communities can both reap the benefits and undertake stewardship of their surrounding environment, which they are wholeheartedly in a position to do.

    Morocco is blessed with ocean and sea and with mountain ranges that are admired the world over. Nonetheless, in far too many places its mountains are crumbling, often causing villages to be abandoned and forcing families to relocate. The Kingdom’s mountainous regions are also where the greatest, most concentrated poverty is located.

    Therefore it is a national imperative, on a human and environmental preservation level, that these regions are transformed into breadbaskets of prosperity, which can only be done by fortifying them environmentally for many generations to come. Practically speaking, the inescapable tasks are to terrace, terrace, terrace, mountains and hillsides and plant, plant, plant upon them. To generate prosperity it is necessary to establish cooperatives, plant nurseries, secure organic certification process train and commercialize.

    Even without climate change and what it means for ocean and sea levels – of which we are reminded on this globally important day – and even without the further pertinent issue of desertification which threatens the Moroccan environment - the call to secure the mountains against their steady decline is one that should resonate nationally because of the majesty of the people and the place, and because the mountains are the environmental fortress of the country.

    For HAF this is a deep abiding calling – as it is, in broader terms, to benefit all regions of Morocco and to improve the conditions of all its inhabitants. In this spirit, we take our place in the wider scheme of things, knowing that our contribution makes a difference.

    Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir is a sociologist and president of the High Atlas Foundation, a Moroccan-U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sustainable human development with marginalized communities.

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    Beijing - Morocco, in its capacity as President of the 141st session of the Council of the Arab League at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, has contributed greatly to the success of the Forum on Chinese-Arab Cooperation, said on Thursday the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Salaheddine Mezouar.

    The Moroccan delegation to the forum presented the vision of King Mohammed VI on the need to develop South-South relations within a win-win framework, the minister said in a statement to MAP.

    At this forum, we conveyed this message and vision and stressed the distinguished presence of Morocco and the vision of the Sovereign concerning international relations in the twenty-first century, international balances and the relationship with China, he said.

    This Forum is a success in many ways, said Mezouar, referring to the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Arab figures at the meeting, saying that this success was mirrored in the signing of three memorandums that illustrate the common aspirations of China and the Arab world for the next decade.

    The minister noted that China attaches great importance to the Arab world given the historical relations and the fact that the Arab world contains resources and significant energy potential.

    With MAP

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    More than 484,778 students will sit for baccalaureate exams

    Casablanca- The number of Moroccan candidates who are expected to sit for the national baccalaureate exams this year has climbed to 502,127 candidates. This figure marks an increase of 4.7% over 2013, according to the Ministry of National Education.

    According to the Moroccan daily Les Eco, this increase in the number of candidates sitting for their baccalaureate exams concerns both public and private educational institutions in the kingdom.

    Clearly, the number of candidates sitting for the baccalaureate exams has been gradually increasing. In 2013, 484,778 candidates sat for the exams, which marked an increase of 8% over 2012.

    Out of the 502,127 candidates this year, 236,440 are students of the arts and humanities and 265,687 of sciences. Both categories have witnessed an increase of 7.9% and 2% respectively compared to 2013, according to the same source.

    In a recent press release, the Ministry of National Education declared that 24,240 rooms in 1,500 examination centers, located in different regions, will be reserved for the upcoming baccalaureate exams. 50,000 overseers and 1,800 monitors and supervisors will ensure the smooth running of exams. Moreover, 40,000 people will be in charge of correcting more than 3.6 million exam sheets.

    The Ministry did not make any predictions concerning the likely success rate for this year’s baccalaureate exams. Besides its efforts to ensure the smooth running of the baccalaureate exams this year, the Ministry of National Education is working on the establishment of criteria to be implemented at the national level, in a serious bid to ensure equal opportunities for candidates and credibility of the results.

    Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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

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    Casablanca - The Renault car-making group exceeded, for the first time, last May the bar of 5,000 vehicles sold last May, holding 33pc of the market.

    Since the start of 2004, the group has sold a total of 19,321 units, which increases its market share to 37.2pc.

    With an output capacity of 340,000 vehicles a year, Renault-Nissan Tangiers is the largest car-making plant in Africa.

    With MAP

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    Cafe Clock Marrakech Puts New Spin on Old Tradition With Storytelling Program (Photo by Jessica Rohan and Melissa Smyth for Morocco World News)

    By Melissa Smyth and Jessica Rohan

    Marrakech- Cafe Clock’s new location in Marrakech has begun a new program that brings a master storyteller to teach apprentices who tell stories in English, adding to their lineup of cultural events at the restaurant.

    Created by Mike Richardson, Cafe Clock opened its second location in February 2014 after the success of the original restaurant in Fez. Designed as a “cross-cultural cafe,” it serves Moroccan/Arab/Western fusion dishes, including the world-famous camel burger, and hosts weekly cultural events such as music and yoga, in addition to the newest storytelling program.

    The weekly storytelling performances, which take place on Thursday evenings, feature stories told in Darija and English. The young apprentices tell stories in English, which they have personally translated from the Darija stories that they heard earlier in the week from the master storyteller. Their performances are followed by a story from the master himself, known as Hajj, in Darija.

    Hajj, who has been telling stories for over 50 years, knows most of his stories by heart, and can continue a single story in weekly installments for an entire year. He began storytelling in 1959, dismayed at the lack of enthusiasm he noticed in the storytellers in Rabat. He took it upon himself to read hundreds of stories, from sources such as A Thousand and One Nights, and began performing them in public squares from Fez to Marrakech.

    [caption id="attachment_132193" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Cafe Clock Marrakech Puts New Spin on Old Tradition With Storytelling Program (Photo by Jessica Rohan and Melissa Smyth for Morocco World News) One of the Moroccan famous storytellers at Cafe Clock, Marrakech (Photo by Melissa Smyth and Jessica Rohan)[/caption]

    In an age when few people could read, storytellers were vital vessels of imagination and information. One of the Cafe Clock apprentices, Mehdi, recalled his childhood trips to Jemaa el-Fna to find a storyteller to listen to each evening. Over his decades of experience in the square as a native of Marrakech, Hajj has seen audiences and the storytelling community dwindle. The noise of motorized vehicles overpowers even the most expressive speakers, and the ever-growing number of juice stands take up valuable halka (story circle) space and push the storytellers to the edges of the square. Increased access to books, television, movies, and the internet have contributed to the declining interest in traditional storytelling. With most storytellers now elderly and no one to replace them, many fear the craft will be lost forever.

    In spite of its tenuous position in Moroccan society, storytelling remains an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. Stories range from fables and morality tales to biographies and accounts of important figures and events in Moroccan history. Many traditional storytellers were capable of reciting lengthy histories over the course of years, the equivalent of an oral textbook. The pioneers at Cafe Clock have seemingly recognized the value of this tradition just in the nick of time.

    While a cafe setting differs greatly from the lively public squares in which the Hajj had performed for decades, it offers an innovative way to transmit the tradition to a new generation. “If I die, the stories will die,” explained Hajj. Now, however, he shares his stories, in addition to his performance techniques, with energetic young apprentices who practice the art in a new form.

    [caption id="attachment_132194" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Sarah, a Moroccan storyteller at Cafe Clock, Marrakech (Photo by Melissa Smyth and Jessica Rohan) Sara, a storytelling apprentice at Cafe Clock, Marrakech (Photo by Melissa Smyth)[/caption] Sara, an apprentice, says that the stories have taught her more about Moroccan culture. Before performing her translations of Hajj’s stories to the Cafe Clock audience, she recites them to her parents at home in Darija. Mehdi adds that he thinks storytelling is valuable not only for his own cultural heritage, but also for the image that visitors receive of Morocco. He considers it a way to counter the stereotypes that many Americans and Europeans hold about Morocco and the Arab region in general.

    Cafe Clock is billed as a place where people can come together to share their cultures and creative talents. Indeed, it is a favorite of expats and tourists, but also enjoys steady patronage by local Moroccans. The regular events encourage this intercultural exchange by making it easy for anyone to perform. On Thursday, an American intern who had just arrived in Marrakech performed a piece of Arabic poetry during an intermission between stories. While exposure to American cultural products is common in Morocco, Cafe Clock fosters a unique form of mutual exchange.

    The spectators are a mix of foreigners and Moroccans. “Last week we had an Egyptian group come in, and after the stories were finished they sang and danced for us,” says Melissa Topacio Long, coordinator of the storytelling program. A group of five or so Moroccans have become regulars at the storytelling event, and they and the storytellers have befriended the frequent foreign students and visitors. At one point during her story, Sarah paused to greet an English-speaking friend who had just entered. “She’s very popular,” a patron joked.

    The program is new, but the apprentices already feel at home in the Cafe Clock community. They are excited to develop their skills and uphold the tradition they have come to appreciate more now as storytellers themselves. The inventiveness of the apprentices’ translations and the vitality of the cultural exchange are sure to attract new members of this growing community, a welcome respite from the bustle of Jemaa el-Fna. The storytelling initiative at Cafe Clock is a promising new approach to balancing Morocco’s cultural heritage with the changing realities of the tourist economy in Marrakech.

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

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    Moroccan political party calls for legalization of cannabis

    Casablanca- Members of the customs services at the Casablanca port seized, on Friday, 16.659 tons of cannabis resin, according to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

    As part of their daily task of controlling exports, the customs services has suspicions after scanning a container, deputy director of exports district at the Casablanca port Noureddine El Asri was quoted by MAP as saying

    After searching the cargo, they discovered this important quantity of drug, the largest catch in years.

    The drug, which is estimated at 166.590 million dirhams, was hidden in 329 plastic tubes.

    With MAP

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    Sexual Harassment under Legal Scrutiny. AFP

    Rabat- Every time a Moroccan man speaks to me in the streets, I am afraid. I am afraid that he will try to grope me, as I have been groped in the past. My breasts, my stomach, and my legs: they have been treated by some Moroccan men as public property.

    I am afraid that he will try to follow me home. Once, in the Fez Medina, as I was shopping for vegetables, seven young Moroccan men followed me through the souq, chanting nasty rhymes and calling me a western whore. My crime? Being a woman alone in public who refused to flirt with them or acknowledge them.

    I am afraid that he will say something about my face or my body that will make me feel like an object, not a person. Today, as I walked down the street in Rabat Agdal to go work in my favorite coffee shop, a man started telling me how sexy I am and how nice my backside is. I had headphones on, sunglasses, was not looking his way, did not speak to him, was wearing a concealing, large dress and was showing no skin. He made me feel disgusting and unsafe.

    I do not want to fear Moroccan men. I moved here because I love Morocco, genuinely. I love the culture of hospitality, the way a stranger quickly becomes a friend. I love the red south, spiked with green cactus, and I love the sea-encompassed north. But I am afraid of some Moroccan men.

    Some of male readers will respond to this article by telling me that I solicited the harassment by dressing too sexy, or some other piece of ridiculous nonsense that places the blame on me (the victim) rather than on them (the perpetrators). But I think any Moroccan woman who reads this article will recognize only too well what I'm talking about: the lascivious stares up and down your body, no matter what you wear, how old you are, or whether you have hijab or not.

    The catcalls, the men in cars who follow you, the sick feeling of not being able to do your grocery shopping without fear, no matter how many layers you wear or how much of yourself you cover. This is unacceptable. Any person, male or female, who tells me that this is "just part of the culture" or "just the way Moroccans are" is lying to me, lying to themselves, and excusing the inexcusable. This is NOT the way things have to be.

    For proof of this, I bring you the example of Egypt. Egypt has an endemic--one might say epidemic--culture of sexual harassment. During the Arab Spring protests, for example, multiple women were gang raped in public, a kind of physical retribution enacted upon the bodies of women brave enough to be politically active in the public sphere. Women did not dare to wear Western clothing, knowing that this most certainly would provoke harassment; but even hijab and burka did not prevent women from groping, rude catcalls, and all manner of inexcusable behavior on the part of Egyptian men, as you can see illustrated in this video.

    But the Egyptian government did not sit idly by and ignore this epidemic. Two days ago, outgoing interim president Adly Mansour made sexual harassment a crime, punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 Egyptian pounds and up to five years in jail. According to an article on BBC News,( harassers will face "from six months to five years in prison," and harassment is defined as a "seeking to achieve interest of a sexual nature" with an unwilling woman.

    When I read this article, my immediate thought was: let's criminalize sexual harassment in Morocco as well! A bit of research showed that, in 2013, Moroccan MPs drafted a law criminalizing sexual harassment against women. But after a lot of publicity, the law went nowhere. The draft law was never enacted as part of Morocco's family code, and today sexual harassment is both prevalent and legal.

    Parliament promised Moroccan women in 2013 that "from now on, sexual harassment will be taken more seriously." I ask you, men and women of Morocco, have you seen any change? Why hasn't the law been passed? And why are Moroccan men and women not taking to the streets of Casablanca, as they did in 2013, to force this law into existence?

    The Moroccan government made a promise--sexual harassment would become a serious legal issue--and it should be one. Moroccan women and foreign women should be able to walk the streets of this country without being afraid of some Moroccan men.

    So I urge to you join together once again and to fight for the passage of the law that would make sexual harassment a crime in Morocco. It will force those who harass us to think twice before they leer, follow or touch our bodies. It will be an important symbolic victory for Moroccan women, proving that they are a serious force for political change. And it will make me feel just a little bit safer next time I walk down my street in Rabat. I will be less afraid next time a Moroccan man speaks to me, knowing that the law is on my side.

    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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    headquarters of the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Rabat - Morocco condemned, on Saturday, the recent decision by the Israeli government to build settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem (Quds), in blatant violation of resolutions of international law, said   the foreign affairs ministry in a statement carried by Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).

    “The Kingdom of Morocco condemns the decision by the Israeli government to build settlements in the occupied West Bank and Eastern Quds, in blatant violation of resolutions of international law, which undermines efforts meant to reach a fair and global political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the same source said.

    “Morocco deems that the stubbornness of Israel in its colonization policy deepens the process of abuses against the Palestinian people, said the statement,” adding that Morocco draws the attention to the dangerous aspect of such decisions and acts and their results that would hamper peace efforts, given that they show provocation and challenge international law resolutions, which forbid any change in the occupied territories.”

    “Faced with this dangerous situation imposed by Israel to alter realities on the field in the occupied Palestine, Morocco is urging the international community to fully shoulder its responsibilities to halt Israeli government’s actions to undermine all peace opportunities in the Middle East by making it stop colonization and respect the right of the Palestinian people to establish the State of Palestine inside the 1967 borders, with Eastern Al Quds as capital.”

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    Rabat- The 13th Mawazine Festival-Rhythms of the World (May 30-June 2) attracted a record audience of 2.62 million goers, Morocco-Cultures Association announced on Sunday.

    The closing concert on the Salé stage brought together at least 180,000 spectators to watch the performance of star Zina Daoudia, while headliner Alicia Keys hit the same evening the stage of OLM Souissi with her best R&B and Soul songs for an audience of around 150,000 music-lovers.

    Keys, who is attending the fest for the second time, gave an unforgettable show and invited on stage Moroccan violin player Smail Raziki from the Moroccan Royal Symphony Orchestra.

    Diversity, tolerance and openness on the world, the Mawazine Festival succeeded again in keeping its promises, the organizers said.

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    internet penetration

    Tinejdad, Morocco- The Dubai-based ICT market research firm MADAR Research & Development projected early this week that the number of Internet users in Morocco would grow significantly by 2017, ranking Morocco third in the MENA region.

    According to a study conducted by MADAR Research & Development, by 2017 Morocco will occupy third place in the Arab world in terms of Internet penetration and accessibility.

    Morocco’s projected penetration rate of 72.4% is anticipated to lag only behind Bahrain (87.4%), and Kuwait (73.7%).

    In comparison, the Internet penetration rate in Morocco as of 2012 was the sixth highest among Arab countries, at 47.4%, ranking behind Bahrain (65.7%), Kuwait (59.3%), UAE (57.2%), Qatar (54.9%), and Saudi Arabia (53.4%).

    MADAR Research and Development is a Dubai Internet City organization established in June 2012 as a knowledge-creating company covering ICT parameters.

    The study calculated the Index by adding up the values of the ICT parameters and dividing the sum by the country's population figure.

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    tom hanks

    Tinejdad, Morocco- Hollywood Star Apologizes for Film Crew Accidentally Bursting BoysSoccer Ball by Teaching All-American Baseball

    American film star Thomas Jeffrey Hanks, known popularly as Tom Hanks, taught a handful of Moroccan boys how to play the national American game of baseball after a production truck accidentally ran over their soccer ball and exploded it.

    Half of dozen Moroccan boys were playing football (soccer) in the street in which the American actor was filming his upcoming film, A Hologram for the King, when one of the crews production trucks accidentally ran over the soccer ball.

    Touched by the sad look on the faces of the boys, Hanks, who happened to be nearby and heard the explosion of the ball, sent his assistant to buy six new soccer balls and gave them to the boys as an apology for the loss of their ball.

    According to Showbizspy, the American actor handed each boy a new ball, and then asked them, Hey, do you guys ever play baseball?

    When the boys answered that they did not know how, Hanks is reported to have said, You show up here tomorrow.  Im gonna teach you how to play a real sport!

    The six Moroccan boys showed up the next morning on time to find that Hanks had bought bats, balls, and gloves for every one of them, and then he spent an hour teaching them to play the great American sport.

     Edited by Elisabeth Myers

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    Moroccan Flags

    Washington D.C.- The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

    Culture is the shared knowledge and schemes created by a set of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing, and responding to the social realities around them. It has been defined in a number of ways, but most simply, as the learned and shared behavior of a community of interacting human beings.

    Throughout history, Morocco has always been a land wherein various cultures and ethnic groups lived, coexisted, and melted together. There is no single era that has witnessed a single group living in the country. From pre-history to the 21st century, Morocco has always been and will always be the melting pot of all ethnic and religious groups. It makes for a unique place of tolerance, to a certain extent, in the modern era.

    This social quality has always been viewed as the strength of Moroccan society—something France could not overlook during its protectorate over Morocco, and decided to enact what was known back then “The Berber Decree” in 1930. This "decree" aimed to divide the social components of Morocco in order to ease French control over the country. Ultimately, the French realized that the solid Moroccan society was a real headache and a major burden to seize total control over the country.

    This leads us to a very crucial question: What is the real Moroccan identity? Some say that Imazighen, or native Moroccans, represent the true and real Moroccan identity; while others believe that the multi-ethnic structure of Morocco is the source of the nation’s sustainability throughout history. From the Romans to Arabs, every dynasty ruled Morocco, adding something new and effective to the social structure and contributing to the creation of a strong and solid multilayered society. One to envy!

    In the recent years, Morocco has experienced a wave of “activists” whose aim is to distinguish between Moroccans. We began to hear Moroccan Amazigh, Moroccan Arab, Moroccan Muslim, Moroccan Jew… etc. It is indeed an unprecedented brand of activism: one that aims to divide the nation into different categories based on their ethnic and religious backgrounds. We have begun noticing Moroccans being labelled based on which region of Morocco they are from, which faith they foster, how old their family name… These so-called activists seem to forget that no matter how complex a mosaic art might look, each piece completes the entire tableau and creates an exquisite artwork.

    So why has this diverse social component become a serious problem for some in Morocco? Why do these activists want to gather into “us” and “them”? The fear of the “other” has never been an issue Morocco throughout its history, so why now? Do not they realize that power is in unity?! Do not they realize that while the whole world is unifying to form a strong alliance, they are aiming to divide the country into small ethnic groups? They have not learned from the experience of the European Union (EU) wherein many faiths, ethnic groups, and colors are all united to become a global power!

    The Amazigh Cultural Movement (MCA), a transnational cultural identity campaign, is pursuing political, social, and cultural agendas on behalf of the Amazigh community. This lobbying force is a vocal advocate demanding official recognition and institutional access of the Tamazight language within Moroccan society. Despite past political repression and obstacles, the MCA’s foundation, presence, and objectives are well-established and guided by constitution-like documents such as La Charte d’Agadir and the Berber Manifesto.

    This ethno-linguistic and political movement is an interconnected composition of militant activists, intellectuals, local cultural associations, international federations, and institutions of higher education committed to Amazigh linguistic and cultural study and research, creating a thick network of diasporic communities. Associated with the international indigenous and cultural rights movements, the MCA reclaimed its voice concurrently with the government’s ease of political and civil society participation restrictions. This diverse community manages contemporary Amazigh discourse and cultural representation. The MCA has developed a unified and thunderous voice in opposition to Amazigh oppression and calls for Amazigh identity recognition and linguistic rights in order to develop culturally, socially, and politically.

    Increased domestic pressures and international influences have driven the powerful monarchy to make transformative political and social changes. Morocco has adopted a more democratic and viable global position. In 1994, the late King Hassan II verbally recognized the legitimacy of the Amazigh cultural and linguistic identity within Morocco. It was a monumental proclamation. He then promised reform.

    However, further development languished for years, incensing the MCA. When King Mohammed VI inherited the throne, he addressed the MCA’s demands and created the state-sanctioned research institute, Institut Royal de la Culture Amazighe (IRCAM). The latter’s powerful role is undeniable: it represents legitimacy, recognition, and inclusion. Additionally, the government has made language policy reforms within the education system, allowing for Tamazight language instruction at the primary school level. IRCAM has had a fundamental role in the implementation of this adapted language policy and associated education reform. Despite these development measures, Tamazight still lacks formalized official national status.

    Presently, the MCA remains vigilant in their quest to secure Amazigh cultural and linguistic rights. Amazigh language and culture are powerful and integral components of Moroccan national identity. The Moroccan government has endorsed progressive resolutions. However, MCA advocates for empty, symbolic gestures that continue to negate Imazighen presence and contributions. The adopted measures only underscore the severity of the injustices and the fragmentation of Moroccan society. Additional institutional and representational actions to protect this community and foster its survival are crucial. Morocco remains enveloped in the richness of its Arab and Amazigh cultural and linguistic identities. As entangled identities, they are performing a difficult dance.

    If we add to the Amazigh movement in Morocco the Jewish community, which was reduced dramatically after 1948, one easily notices that Morocco has never had any problem with the multicultural aspects of its society. They all enrich its heritage and contribute to the nation’s prosperity. When Arabs came to Morocco and introduced the natives to the new religion, natives immediately fostered the new doctrine and adopted it as the official faith of the land.

    The introduction of Arabic language to Morocco opened more horizons to the newly-founded dynasty and its successors. Yet, Arab settlers have never marginalized locals and made sure to involve them in running the sociopolitical affairs of the country. For example, the famous warrior Tarik Ibn Ziyad: a military leader who was a proud native of Morocco who led the Moroccan army to conquer the Iberian Peninsula. The Rock of Gibraltar, which was named after him, stands witness to his glorious leadership and greatness.

    What concerns me these days is that some Imazighen activists hold a rather blurry agenda and are in constant efforts to seek foreign assistance for their cause. The whole nation agrees that the natives’ heritage should be well preserved and their language recognized, but for some to advocate and campaign for an “independent” country of their own—that what I cannot comprehend. They feel that they were “robbed” and extracted from their roots and identity. Wrong.

    I remember growing up, I had friends from all social groups, from different backgrounds and faiths. We got along just fine, and so did our ancestors who fought alongside each other for freedom and independence. They showed respect to one another based on their transactions together and not on their ethnic affiliation. So what caused this sudden uprising of our fellow compatriots? Who is behind them and what their real agenda? Unfortunately, I do not have an answer…

    Morocco has always been strong because of its cross-cultural diversity. Tolerance was, and still is, the trademark of the nation. Of course, there are some odd incidents here and there, but overall, all components of Moroccan society come together when most needed. Every Moroccan puts his nation above any social differences: this is how we were brought up and this is how we will die.

    Morocco is bigger than any ethnic group, it is the melting pot of all races and faiths, and it is haven for those seeking tolerance and peace. I just wish that those who are deviating from the group to learn from other examples around the world: China, Europe, United States, Russia… and many other nations who put their differences aside and united together to make their countries strong and their economies stronger.

    To all my Moroccan compatriots, I say: United we stand, divided we fall.

    Edited by Katrina Bushko

    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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    Royal Air Maroc Livery Courier Departing

    Fez- The national Moroccan airline, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), is commencing a new direct connection between the Beni Mellal airport and the airport of Malpensa in Milan, Italy, on July 21, 2014.

    The new route, with three flights a week, is intended to enhance RAM's international presence, especially in countries, such as Italy, with a large Moroccan community.

    The route is expected to generate a large volume of traffic given that most of the Moroccan immigrants in Italy originate from areas close to Beni Mellal.

    The new initiative is also consistent with Morocco's tourism vision to seek out new markets and promote tourism in different regions in Morocco.

    © 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- Casablanca, Morocco’s economic capital and melting pot city, has recently figured among Africa’s top three largest cities with the greatest potential for inclusive growth, according to the 2014 African Cities Growth Index (ACGI).

    According to the website L’agence Ecofin, the ACGI ranked Casablanca as the second African city with greatest potential for inclusive growth. Casablanca, the only representative Maghreb city, ranked right after Accra (capital of Ghana), and ahead of Freetown (capital of Sierra Leone).

    Accra is the only African city that was classified in the high-potential section. Casablanca and Freetown figured in the medium-high section, according to the same source.

    Casablanca also ranked 22nd in the 2014 Emerging Cities Outlook (ECO), and 3rd best weather place according to the March-April issue of the American Magazine Weatherwise.

    The 2014 ACGO featured two other large Moroccan cities: Rabat, the administrative capital, ranking 15th, and Fez, the kingdom’s spiritual capital, ranking 17th.

    The 2014 ACGI studied 74 African cities, which were classified into three categories according to their population size: large (more than one million), medium (between 500,000 and one million) and small (less than 500,000). After their classification, the cities were placed in one of four sections describing their potential for inclusive growth: high, medium-high, medium-low and low.

    “Inclusive growth occurs when the benefits of an expanding economy are widely shared with the population,” said Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, co-author and Chief Economist at the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, as quoted by South African IT website Business Tech.

    “We believe that inclusive urbanization is a prerequisite for inclusive growth, and so the ACGI is a lens through which African cities can be assessed as future investment destinations,” added Dr. Yuwa.

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    Rabat- Moroccan police have seized nearly 30 tonnes of hashish in Casablanca, one of the largest busts in the major cannabis exporting country in years, media reported on Monday. Two separate busts took place, with police raiding a warehouse in the port city on Saturday and seizing 12 tonnes of the drug, known locally as “chira”, Moroccan daily Annass reported. The raid followed the discovery on Friday of 16.7 tonnes of hashish hidden inside plastic rollers and tubing in a 12-meter (40 foot) container at the port, thought to be part of the same shipment, the official MAP news agency said. Police arrested two men in connection with the latest finds, both 56 years old, including the alleged mastermind of the trafficking network. An investigation had been launched into the existence of “a large-scale trafficking operation, sending the drug to an Arab country via Casablanca port,” judicial police chief Abdelhak Khayyam said, quoted by the MAP. Annass gave an estimated value of $20 million (15 million euros) for the first drug haul, and said the container was bound for Libya. An unspecified quantity of money was seized in the swoop, in the form of euros and Saudi riyals, as well as 15 mobile telephones including a satellite phone. Despite efforts by authorities in the past decade to crack down on marijuana farming, Morocco remains one of the world’s top exporters of the drug and Europe’s main source. Last year, Spanish authorities announced record discoveries of Moroccan hashish, including 52 tonnes at a warehouse in the southern city of Cordoba, and 32 tonnes in a truck carrying melons that was intercepted in the Mediterranean port of Algeciras. Casablanca’s biggest ever hashish haul happened in 2009, when customs officials discovered 32.3 tonnes of cannabis resin hidden inside soft drinks cans marked for recycling. The interior ministry says more than 700,000 Moroccans depend on cannabis production, which is concentrated in the northern Rif mountains and covers an estimated area of 50,000 hectares (125,000 acres).

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    King Mohammed VI’s Unceremonious Walk down Tunisian Streets Surprises Tunisians

    New York- Morocco’s Royal court issued a stern warning on Tuesday to public television channel 2M over what the protocol representatives of the Royal court described as a “professional mistake.”

    In one of its reports on the King’s recent visit to Tunisia, the state-owned channel had used private pictures of King Mohamed VI taken from social media networks.

    2M News Director Samira Sitail's desire to show the “other side” of the king through pictures showing him dressed casually when he had stopped in the street to take pictures with ordinary Tunisians did not meet with approval from the Royal court which indicated that the use of such pictures runs contrary to official protocol.

    The royal Court's representatives expressed their disapproval of the use of private pictures of the king by a public television.

    Samira Sitail gave instructions for the station to make up for the “grave mistake” by broadcasting a clarifying announcement and issuing a formal apology in its news bulletins, in which the news anchor apologized with a big smile.

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    Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank Signs Cooperation Agreement with Russia’s Sberbank

    Casablanca- Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank has just landed on the Russian soil. The Moroccan bank signed a cooperation agreement with Russia’s Sberbank Monday, in Moscow, during the Morocco-Russia economic forum held this week under the theme “Morocco, a Strategic Partner of Russia.”

    Under this agreement, the two banks show their commitment to cooperate in several areas, such as capital markets, syndications, correspondent banking, and trade finance.

    The agreement was signed by Mohamed El Kettani, CEO of Attijariwafa Bank, and André Ivanov, Head of the Trade Finance Department at Sberbank. "The agreement we have just signed is a major milestone in building strong and lasting economic relations between Morocco and Russia,” Attijariwafa Bank CEO, Mr. El Kettani, was quoted Jeune Afrique as saying.

    “The leading positions both groups occupy in their respective markets are likely to boost trade and investment flows as well as the provision of financial services, tailored for the benefit of expatriates in our country," he added.

    According the same source, Mr. Ivanov stated, “This agreement will significantly boost the exchange level between both countries.”

    Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the third largest in Europe, according to Jeune Afrique. It occupies 28.6% of the market share in Russia, and is currently present in 22 countries. Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank is one of the kingdom’s most important banks. It is present in 22 countries.

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    The UN Human Rights Council

    Geneva - Morocco denounced in Geneva on Tuesday, Algeria's "biased and implausible discourse" on human rights in the the Wesetrn Sahara, stressing that the neighboring country "cannot be both the judge and the party" in this dispute.

    "Algeria continues to wrongly mention human rights in the Moroccan Sahara, as it has no credibility to do so since it systematically violates them back home," said Hassane Boukili, Acting Chargé d'Affairs in Geneva in response to a statement by the Algerian Ambassador before the Human Rights Council (HRC).

    In his speech at the general debate of the Council on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Algerian ambassador called the HRC to "pay particular attention to the protection of human rights in the Sahara."

    "Due to its involvement as a party to this dispute, Algeria is anything but an observer. It has been involved since 1976, politically, diplomatically and financially for a separatist project in South of Morocco," said the Moroccan diplomat.

    With MAP

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