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Morocco News meets the World

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    Moroccan doctors performing C-section

    By Larbi Arbaoui

    Morocco World News

    Taliouine, Morocco, May11, 2013

    According to the news agency AP, only one overworked Moroccan doctor performs caesarean sections for women to deliver their babies in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp.

    The news agency said, “The Moroccan hospital, run by the North African country's military, is the only facility in the camp that performs C-sections. It has delivered 196 babies — 153 of them C-sections, sometimes up to five a day.”

    “The facility has 47 specialists but only one gynecologist, who performs all the cesareans, and only one anesthesiologist,” AP added. "There are 10 to 13 births taking place every day in the Zaatari camp alone," said Muna Idris, the assistant representative to Jordan for the U.N. Population Fund, known by the acronym UNFPA. 

    AP reported that, “all the clinics carry out regular births…Just two of the clinics — the Moroccan hospital set up in August and another run by the French agency Gynécologie Sans Frontières — have delivered nearly 600 babies, according to UNFPA's humanitarian affairs specialist, Shible Sahbani.”

    "Thank God, we have clean facilities and safe instruments in such a refugee camp," the woman Umm Raad quoted by AP as saying this week in the maternity ward of the Moroccan field hospital, holding her hour-old baby, Abdullah.

    The first Arab head of state to visit the desert compound, last October Moroccan King Mohammed VI toured a Moroccan field hospital in the Zaatari camp, which houses around 36,000 Syrian refugees. During his visit, the king gave two donations to the Syrian refugees in the camp. In addition to medical equipment and medicine, the donation included 6,000 blankets (5,000 for the elderly and 1,000 for infants and children), 7 incubators for newborns and 1,000 units of medical material for infants, according to MAP.

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 This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Morocco king urges key govt ally to stay in cabinet

     RABAT, Morocco, May 12, 2013 (AFP)

    King Mohammed V of Morocco has urged the conservative Istiqlal party to go back on a decision to pull out from the Islamist-led government, a spokesman for the party said on Sunday.

    Istiqlal's national council, the main ally of the ruling Islamists, announced on Saturday it was pulling out of the government over its failure to shore up the economy and solve dire social issues in Morocco.

    Overnight the king, who is on a private visit abroad, telephoned Istiqlal party chief Hamid Chabat "to exhort him to keep our ministers in the government," party spokesman Adil Benhamza told AFP.

    "We will ask our ministers to carry on with current affairs until the king returns home," he added.

    Istiqlal holds several ministerial portfolios including education and the economy and its decision to quit the cabinet could mean a general election or a cabinet reshuffle by the government headed by the moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD).

    On Saturday, Istiqlal's national council criticised the Islamist head of the government, Abdelilah Benkirane, for failing to take "into consideration the gravity of the social and economic situation".

    Istiqlal also said Benkirane, head of the PJD, was "monopolising decisions at the centre of government."

    But after the telephone conversation between the king and Chabat, Istiqlal said in a new statement that its executive committee has taken act of this "extremely important development".

    The party "totally adheres to royal wish to guarantee conditions of stability and to serve the higher interests of the nation," it added.

    Morocco is grappling with an economic crisis linked to the problems in Europe, its top trade partner, amid widespread poverty, rising prices and youth unemployment estimated to be as high as 30 percent, which causes near-daily protests in the capital.

    Faced with a budget deficit last year that reached 7 percent of GDP, the government is attempting to push through delicate reforms, including on costly pensions and subsidies that it can no longer afford.

    At the end of March thousands of people marched through the Moroccan capital, Rabat, to protest against unemployment and the cost of living and thousands demonstrated again on May Day.

    The PJD, which has led the government since it dominated elections in late 2011, will have to find a new ally in government to replace Istiqlal if it wishes to avoid a new vote.

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    Moroccan editorials

    Rabat - May 13, 2013 (MAP)

    The decision made by the Istiqlal party, major ally of the Islamist PJD in the government, to quit the government and the future of the government coalition dominate the editorials published this May 13, 2013. "Aujourd’hui le Maroc" which runs an editorial titled "two years and a half gone with the wind", draws the attention to the hard economic situation (in Morocco) and notes that the Istiqlal party’s decision implies three to four months of political negotiations to reach a new government coalition. Then, when a new cabinet is set up, it will need at least six months to be fully operational, says the editorial, adding that "the rest of 2013 is lost" and even a good part of 2014 because working on the 2014 finance law is supposed to start in June. "Finally, we would have lost at least two years and a half", it concludes. For +Le Soir Echos+, the Istiqlal party’s announcement is a last attempt to weaken the first party stemming from elections. The editorialist warns the Istiqlal party’s leader that a government reshuffle, or even early elections, do not guarantee the departure of the PJD. It also notes that the Istiqlal party could experience a scission, since the party is ridden with dissensions while the PJD is poised to be reinforced by this "assault. The paper which remarks that the Istiqlal party acted as an opposition party rather than as the second pillar of the government coalition notes that the departure of this party will free the PJD of a heavy ally that is only after its own political agenda. It insists that the "PJD is no better and no worse than any other political party, but it embodies popular will and draw an undisputed legitimacy from this fact". On its part, "Al Ahdath Al Maghribia" notes that the cabinet was tainted by several contradictions as the PJD has been taking unilateral initiatives without discussing them with the other parties. What makes the situation dangerous is the fact that the country is living major economic and social challenges and economic operators are in a wait-and-see situation. "L’Economiste", considers that the government break-up was unavoidable, stressing that "the political crisis is now open", but more important public finances are disastrous.

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    Montreal, May 13, 2013 (MAP)

    Canadian minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Jason Kenny, hailed the leadership of King Mohammed VI and democratic reforms conducted by the Sovereign in favour of freedom, democracy and social justice values.

    “Thanks to his distinguished leadership, HM King Mohammed VI is part of the most eminent and most respected heads of state”, the minister told MAP as he attended a conference held on Sunday at “Dar Al Maghrib” by the association “Memory and dialogue” on the theme of “Jewish-Arab relations in Canada”.

    "The Sovereign has shown wisdom by consolidating the stability and security of the Moroccan society and conducting at in the same time democratic reforms », he went on.

    He also stressed that the sovereign has struck a balance between the stability of institutions, social cohesion and political and democratic reforms, noting that Morocco’s governing system can be a model to be followed by the rest of the Arab world.

    In a presentation during the conference attended by officials, members of the Moroccan-born Jewish community, university teachers and academics, Kenny also highlights the longstanding tolerance values prevailing in Morocco.

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    Moroccan Foreign Minister Saae Edine Otmani during Security Council meeting on Syria

    New York, May 14, 2013 (MAP)
    Morocco is ready to share its national counter-terror experience with African states, Foreign minister Saad Dine El Otmani said on Monday in New York. Morocco is ready to share its experience with African states as part of a "constructive partnership for which we all aspire to face growing security threats nationally, internationally and regionally," the minister said at the UNSC. El Otmani was speaking during a UNSC meeting on "Peace and Security in Africa: the challenges of the fight against terrorism in Africa in the context of maintaining international peace and security", held upon the initiative of Togo which chairs the Council for the month of May. Pursuant to its unwavering commitment to foster security in Africa, Morocco adhered for decades to efforts seeking to strengthen cooperation between African countries to fight terrorism and cross-border organized crime through a series of actions, said the minister in the meeting chaired by Togolese head of state Faure Gnassingbé. Among these actions, the minister cited the initiative of African States Bordering the Atlantic (launched in Rabat in August 2009) and the holding in the Kingdom of the Conference of Ministers of Justice of French-speaking African countries with the aim of encouraging adherence to international conventions to counter terror. On the humanitarian side, the minister highlighted the initiatives undertaken by HM King Mohammed VI to strengthen support for refugees in several Sahel-Saharan countries, particularly for Malian refugees.

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    UN Security Council members at the United Nations headquarters in New York,

    New York, May 14, 2013 (MAP)

    The UN Security Council called on Monday Sahel and Maghreb states to intensify inter-regional cooperation and coordination. In a presidential statement unanimously adopted by the 15 member-states, the council pleaded for a “comprehensive strategy” to fight terrorism.

    The statement was adopted during the UN Security Council open debate on combating terrorism in Africa, held at the initiative of Togo –chairing the Council for the month of May.

    The Council also appeals to Sahel and Sahara countries to design non-selective and efficient anti-terrorism strategy in order to fight in a comprehensive and integrated manner activities of terrorist groups –Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Ansar Eddine- and prevent their expansion.

    The Sahel and Maghreb countries were also encouraged to control the proliferation of all types of weapons and organized transnational crimes, particularly drug trafficking.

    “The Security Council recognizes that terrorism will not be defeated by military force or security forces, law enforcement measures, and intelligence operations alone,” the statement declared while underlining the need to address the conditions conducive to “strengthening efforts for the successful prevention and peaceful resolution of prolonged conflicts, and also promoting the rule of law, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance, tolerance and inclusiveness.”

    It called on the Secretary-General to provide “a comprehensive survey and assessment” of the UN’s work in assisting Member States and sub-regional and regional entities across Africa in fighting the continent’s terrorist threats.

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    Istiqlal Party is under the king’s command: Chabat

    By Youssef Sourgo

    Morocco World News

    Casablanca, May 14, 2013

    The secretary general of the Istiqlal party, Hamid Chabat, on Tuesday told Moroccan newspaper L’Economiste that his party’s decision to withdraw from the government was for the sake of drawing Morocco out of the “decay” it is heading to.

    Chabat, however, affirmed his party’s decision is not final, and that IP remains open to any propositions that would ameliorate the performance of the Moroccan government.

    Chabat affirmed that the national council’s decision remains conditional on the king’s opinion based on the Article 42 of the constitution.

    “Istiqlal party remains solely under the King’s command,” he added.

    Chabat and the other representatives of the Istiqlal party are likely to remain within the governmental coalition as long as adjustments are to be brought to the politics of the current government.

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    Scores of migrants storm fence from Morocco to Spain

     MADRID, May 14, 2013 (AFP)

    Scores of African migrants stormed a border fence from Morocco into Spanish territory, leaving seven injured, authorities said Tuesday, in the latest in a series of desperate crossing attempts.

    "More than 150 people tried to cross" late on Monday, said Abdelmalik El Barkani, head of the Spanish government delegation in the territory of Melilla.

     He said that of these about 60 managed to clear the six-metre (20-foot) fence and seven were injured.

    It was the latest in a series of attempts by migrants desperate to reach European soil via Melilla, a Spanish enclave bordering Morocco on the Mediterranean coast.

    Hundreds of African migrants have tried to enter the territory in recent months by storming the fence or approaching by boat, according to Spanish authorities.

    Melilla, home to around 80,000 people, has one of the European Union's two land borders with Africa, along with the other Spanish enclave of Ceuta to the west.

     In late 2012 human rights groups estimated that up to 25,000 clandestine migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were on Moroccan soil.

    Many of them wait near the border of Melilla for a chance to try to cross the fence.

    El Barkani said Ceuta and Melilla were drawing more migrants since Spanish authorities cracked down on migration from Africa to the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic.

    Their numbers have been swelled by unrest in north Africa over recent years, he added.

    These factors "have made Melilla and Ceuta the principal points of entry for sub-Saharans to Spain and one of the major points of entry to Europe," he said.

     "It is a difficult matter, which cannot be settled by posting a guard every two metres along the wall, nor by raising the height of the wall six metres more."

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    Morocco takes part in Mali Donors conference in Brussels

    Brussels, May 15, 2013 (MAP)

    Morocco is taking part in the conference of aid donors to Mali held this Wednesday in Brussels. Theme “together for the renewal of Mali, the high-level conference is jointly-held by the European Union and France in order to coordinate the international community support to development in Mali. Morocco’s head of government, Abdelilah Benkirane is representing Morocco to clearly express the Kingdom’s solidarity with Mali and its commitment for the country’s development and unity as well as the stability of the entire Sahel-Sahara region. Tend heads of state and government, including the French and Malian presidents, are attending the conference together with the presidents of the European commission and the European Council. The Malian government is seeking roughly 2 billion euros in support from the conference to help fund a 4.34 billion euro plan to keep peace and help restore infrastructure to the country. The Brussels conference is the second of the kind after the one held in Addis Ababa end of January. Morocco had contributed 5 million dollars to finance the African peace-keeping mission (MISMA).

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    Morocco’s foreign ministry "astonished" by Egyptian figures’ criticism of Al Quds committee role

    Rabat, May 15, 2013 (MAP)

    The Moroccan ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation expressed on Tuesday its "astonishment" following the remarks of some Egyptian figures playing down the role played by Al Quds committee, an offshoot of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The ministry says in a release that these remarks are "a denial of the role of Al Quds committee and of the Bayt Mal Al Quds Asharif agency which conduct their action, under the personal supervision of HM King Mohammed VI. The Bayt Mal Al Quds Asharif Agency carries out vital initiatives and projects meant to protect the city of Al Quds (Jerusalem), preserve its religious legacy and civilization and support the resistance of its inhabitants against any judaization attempt, the release goes on. On the political level, Al Quds committee, chaired by HM the King "is closely following developments in the holy city and has been intensifying political initiatives to face Israeli violations, particularly through letters and contacts with the UN security Council permanent member-states and the competent international organizations". Efforts made by Bayt Mal Al Quds Asharif Agency are directed to concrete projects in social development, education, youth, sports, culture, housing, health and monument rehabilitation, the release further explains, recalling that Morocco contributes up to 80pc of the Agency budget. "We would have liked these efforts to be joined by those of Egypt in order to contribute to the field action undertaken by the Agency for Al Quds and its inhabitants", the release concludes.

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    By Youssef Sourgo

    Morocco World News

    Casablanca, May 15, 2013

    According to Mr. Lahcen Daoudi, the minister of higher education, scientific research and executive training, the number of scholarships awarded to academic students currently stands at 216,000 compared with 180,000 last year.

    Mr. Daoudi, who spoke last Tuesday at the meeting of the House of Councillors, said that the ministry has reevaluated the budget devoted to academic scholarships, thus reaching MAD 1.2 billion instead of MAD 700 million previously.

    The minister of higher education also noted, "This is a substantial effort in regard to the current situation."

    In this respect, the ministry has approved 85,000 scholarship applications of a total of 107,000 applications, reaching a satisfaction rate of 80 percent.

    Mr. Daoudi even conceded that, "In some cases, certain grants are awarded to people who do not really deserve them."

    At the university level, Mr. Daoudi said that the Ministry will proceed during the next academic year to increase the number of beds in on-campus housing to 54,000 beds instead of the current 37,000.

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

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    Rabat, May 15, 2013 (MAP)

    Morocco moved up to the 70th position gaining three places compared to last year in the ranking established by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on competitiveness in Africa for 2013.

    Morocco, which continues its momentum in terms of competitiveness, ranks fourth on the African level outdistancing all North African countries on this indicator of competitiveness, according to a press release of the Ministry of General Affairs and Governance.

    Despite the crisis context, Morocco stood out, according to the report, by a significant evolution, in particular through the improvement of the situation of the labor market, while the countries of the region, affected by the Arab Spring, are facing stagnation.

    Morocco also improved its ranking by 12 places in the effective management of export and import procedures, compared to previous years, as well as organizational climate and process transparency of customs administrations, the same source added.

    Regarding the availability and the quality of transport infrastructure, Morocco is ranked 18th in terms of the indicator of air links, ahead of Egypt and Algeria, who occupied respectively the 19th and 33rd, said WEF report adding that Morocco has witnessed a significant development in the field of clean energy.

    The experts of the World Economic Forum explain Morocco's progress by the projects and major reforms undertaken by the government in various fields aiming to improve the infrastructure, logistics and transportation and to ensure a conducive business environment to attract investment and promote openness to regional and international markets.

    However, WEF's report noted some aspects that limit the development of competitiveness in Morocco, including corruption, bureaucracy, cumbersome administrative procedures and the difficult access to funding, all points that have focused the attention of government, notably, through the National Committee for business environment, which has an annual and medium-term program aiming to take the necessary steps to overcome the negative aspects that affect the performance of the competitiveness of Morocco.

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    Nicole Bricq

    Paris - May 15, 2013 (MAP)

    French foreign trade minister, Nicole Bricq, will pay on Thursday a visit to Morocco where she will participate in the 1st Panafrican meeting of French external trade advisors.

    Bricq’s fourth visit of the kind to Morocco “illustrates the unique relations between the two countries and France’s will to remain Morocco’s first economic partner in a context of increases competition”, an official release says. The minister will also meet Morocco’s minister of housing, town planning and urban policy, Nabil Benabdellah over various urban transport projects, particularly the Rabat and Casablanca tramways, the air metro project in Casablanca and the high level service buses in Casablanca and Agadir. Discussions will also cover the construction of new cities, a topic that was a priority during last April’s visit to Morocco by French president, François Hollande.

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    Moroccan editorials

    Rabat, May 15, 2013 (MAP)

    The Istiqlal party’s decision to withdraw from the government coalition continues to make the headlines of Moroccan editorials this Wednesday May 15, 2013.

    Aujourd’hui le Maroc notes that the islamist Party for Justice and development (PJD) which heads the government coalition continues to ignore its resigning ally", living room to several interpretations: the first one is that the PJD is not taking seriously the Istiqlal party’s decision and the second one is that it wants to convey the message that it is not fearing to lose its majority and go for early elections.

    The editorialist regrets that "tight political calculations seem to be prevailing over other more priority considerations in a time of crisis".

    For Rissalat Al Oumma, the comments and responses triggered by the decision, and the trading of accusations and criticism is but a political game that would entail heavy consequences on the national economy at a time the government ought to look into the implementation of urgent economic reforms, start an earnest dialogue with unions and address corruption cases.

    The editorialist underlines that the government and political parties member of the coalition continue to wage their narrow political battles at the expense of the nation supreme interests, citizens and coming generations, and notes that current events are the logical and natural result of the government’s failure to deliver on its responsibilities and its inability to present a clear program with precise deadlines.

    On its part Akhbar Al Yaoum Al Maghribia notes that the head of government’s party has decided not to publish any release following its meeting, considering that this as evidence that the head of government does not take seriously the threats of the Istiqlal party to withdraw from the government.

    It is true that it is the Istiqlal right to withdraw from the government, but it is unacceptable that this party continues to play a double game, with one leg in the opposition and the other in the government, the paper says.

    The editorialist calls for early elections, arguing that Moroccans are the only eligible mediator in this showdown.

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    Morocco: NGO offers free vaccination for children attained by anemia

    By Youssef Sourgo Morocco World News Casablancsa, May 16, 2013 Dar Chifa is a non-profit organization whose main goal is helping needy children in the rural areas of the province of El Kenitra by facilitating their access to healthcare. In partnership with the Provincial Delegation of the Ministry of Health, Dar Chifa organizes a free vaccination and medical assistance initiative for the benefit of 156 children with sickle-cell anemia in the villages located in Lemnasra – Kenitra region. Also called drepanocytosis, sickle-cell anemia is a genetic disease that affects red blood cells. It induces their deformation from a flexible to a curved shape, thus causing the blockage of blood veins. The initiative has begun today, May 16, at 08: 00 at the Centre for Children and Youth in Oulad El Assal, led by a team of volunteering general practitioners, pediatricians and specialists. Their free services consists mainly of prevenar vaccination, medical consultation, curative and preventive medical intervention, as well as the prescription of and distribution of medicines. Dar Chifa also raises awareness about the importance of medical treatment for children attained by sickle-cell disease through a series of instructive workshops. Those sessions aim mainly at persuading parents of the importance of medical treatment for children attained by drepanocytosis, mainly highlighting the crucial role of early neonatal diagnosis and vaccination in this context. In line with the aims of the National Initiative for Human Development and the strategic objectives of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dar Charifa’s initiative aims to promote equal access to healthcare for people in the rural areas of the province of Kenitra. The association’s initiative thus comes as a manifestation of Morocco's efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health.

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    Morocco to ship in $ 5 mln for Mali's reconstruction, Head of Govt.

    Brussels, May 16, 2013 (MAP)

    Morocco will contribute with five million dollars to help with Mali's development and reconstruction, said on Wednesday head of government Abdelilah Benkirane who is representing Morocco in Brussels donors conference. Benkirane underlined that Morocco, under the leadership of HM King Mohammed VI, will continue assuming its responsibilities bilaterally as Mali's neighboring country, and internationally as a partner for peace and security in the region, noting that the Kingdom is ready to back Mali in top priority sectors. Morocco is also paying attention to the worrying humanitarian situation in the country and is keen to support Mali's national reconciliation process, he added. The head of government also reiterated Morocco's commitment to making the security situation in Mali and the whole Sahel-Saharan region among the pressing issues in its diplomacy at the UN and the different world's forums. He said that Morocco has been for years warning the international community against threats facing the Sahel and Saharan region, including Mali which has witnessed lately a surge of extremism, terrorism and separatism.

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    Rachid khouya

    by Rachid Khouya

    Morocco World News

    Smara, May 18, 2013

    All countries of the world have the right to get rid of any individual who seem to pose a threat to their national security except Morocco. Spain and France, who are giving the world lessons in the respect of human rights, have the right to get rid of those they see as unwanted or undesired within their national borders. Of course, this is their right.

    Personally, I am free to accept whomever I want to live with me at home and to invite whomever I want whenever I want and ask them to leave when I want. This is my home and I am free to do what I want, at least within my own doors.

    I think this is acceptable logic that we all agree upon. The case is no different in the fields of politics and international relations. What applies here could be applicable there too. But what should not be acceptable are the double standards and hypocrisy of some Western countries and the self-righteousness with which they treat developing countries when it comes to human rights.

    They all agree that they have the right to capture, imprison, torture, kidnap, kill and dehumanize those who they see as terrorists, enemies of Western democracy, while they plot to enslave and recolonize the world. They consider these deeds as justified for the goodness of humanity and the human race, as well as to protect their values, which they see as universal.

    Let's take the example of our country—whenever Morocco tries to protect its national unity from the threats of its enemies and their repeated attempts to spread insecurity and disorder in different regions, especially in the South, human rights organizations book their plane tickets and rush to the Sahara to depict what they call "the wild violations of human rights” by the police forces.

    They think that Morocco has to live and let live those who are working against our national unity and stability because this would be a good sign of respecting human rights in the kingdom.

    I think we could all either be democrats and let those who threaten our national safety and peace live with us and spread their ideologies of hatred, war, violence, terrorism and fundamentalism or we should all protect our borders, citizens and humanity from those who are undermining national and international security, which is the first responsibility of our governments.

    The West, supported by many Eastern countries, has attacked many countries, killed many innocent people and is still doing so in different corners of the globe in the name of human rights, peace and justice.

    The West has to understand that we can either all be democrats and live with the cancer that threaten our national bodies, or we should let doctors get rid of the parts that are sick, polluted and threatening our integrity as individuals and as states.

    We are not herds of foxes, dogs, or snakes to be tamed with those kinds of sticks and stones. We are all equal in humanity and we should not use and abuse our strength and leadership to punish whomever we want and forgive whomever we want. Thus, do not use the issue of human rights to tame us. We are already tamed.

    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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    Moroccan Police car

    By Youssef Sourgo

    Morocco World News

    Casablanca, May 19, 2013

    Casablanca celebrated today the 57th anniversary of the creation of the Moroccan Police.

    The ceremony paid tribute to all the National Security agents and officials who made proof of great determination and devotion in their fight against crime in all its manifestations, and by ensuring the safety of civilians.

    The event was marked by the delivery of royal Wissams (honor distinctions) to officials and agents serving in the National Security, in the presence of local civil and military authorities, members of judiciary institutions, government representatives, former National Security officials, as well as many other personalities.

    The ceremony also comprised simulations of security procedures, acted by multifarious security agents, to demonstrate their professionalism and impart their daily experiences in combating crime to the audience.

    “The urban population is growing rapidly due to the growing number of people who flock to the metropolis from different corners of Morocco,” stated Abdellatif Mouadib, police Commissioner of Casablanca.

    “This requires the National Security to keep amplifying its efforts by honing the skills and professionalism of its agents, in order to deal with the demographic dynamism that characterizes the city, and to be able to meet its population’s needs in terms of safety and security,” added Mr. Mouadib.

    In this respect, the new approach initiated by the National Security in order to ensure the accomplishment of its long-term goals consists of improving its services; maintaining partnerships with various components of civil society in order to ensure a more effective strategy of work; organizing visits to schools to raise awareness on the dangerous repercussions of illegal acts, such as using or trafficking drugs.

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    Two Moroccans jailed for homosexuality: lawyer

    TEMARA, Morocco, May 20, 2013 (AFP)

    Two young Moroccan men were jailed on Monday by a court in Temara for four months for being homosexuals, one of their lawyers told AFP.

    The two, aged 20 and 28, were arrested at the beginning of the month at Temara near the capital by police who found them together in a car. On Monday both men denied the charges.

     "We were in the car having a chat, nothing more. We've done nothing illegal," one defendant told the court.

    The lawyer said: "We told the judge that the statement signed by the accused contains inexactitudes," adding that he would discuss with the men's families on Tuesday whether to appeal.

    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.

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    Smara:  Saharan tourism : what strategy and what orientation?

    By Rachid Khouya

    Morocco World News

    Smara, May 21, 2013

    The creation of the touristic center for orientation in Smara shows that at last, after many years of waiting, the local authorities have finally woken up and opened their eyes to the importance of exploiting the natural and cultural riches of the region to create a touristic development in the region.

    Undoubtedly, tourism is today considered a vital economic activity and a vector of cultural heritage. Many governments are investing in this field as it is a promoter of regional, national and international development. It is also used to fight poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, marginalization, exclusion, lack of access to health care and water.

    According to a document published by the UNESCO, "Saharan tourism provides travelers with an opportunity to experience forms of remoteness and exoticism that are closely tired to the original quality of the places they visit (dunes, vast expanses and silence) or living human production activities (dwellings, cultures, arts, crafts and lifestyles) or the remnants of vestiges (engravings, paintings and ruins)".

    Al the elements mentioned above are present in Smara and in our Sahara. It is a virgin zone that offers its visitors peace of mind, security, inspiration, isolation, beauty and happiness.

    They come to enjoy being in peace with themselves and to reflect about their being, their past, present and future far away from the noise of the big cities .

    The Sahara and its landscape helps its visitors remember memories that were lost in the crowds of the modern life, and at the same time forget the images of war, blood and violence that they’re used to seeing on the media.

    According to Bah Naama, the responsible for the newly created Touristic Center of Orientation, "this center aims to welcome the tourists and the visitors of the city and to give them all kinds of information they might need so as to enjoy their being in this city and to guide them towards the most important cultural and touristic sites to visit because when they come to Smara, they come with no ideas about where to go and what to see."

    The tourists that come to the Sahara are exceptional individuals. They come to enjoy and discover the hidden aspects of the cultural life of the region and its people in terms of oral traditions, music, food, clothes, customs, traditional games, tales, folklore and medicine as they are fed up with modern life and its negative effects on their psychological and spiritual beings.

    They escape big cities and their big hotels and the noise of night clubs. They prefer to spend the nights in tents under the light of the stars and the moon and they enjoy drinking Sahara tea surrounding the fire waiting patiently for their dinners to be prepared on coal while listening to beautiful traditional local music.

    But the main problem that stands in front of achieving this local development in the field of tourism is the lack of encouragement for the young investors who want to create their own projects and to participate actively in the process of development, especially with regards to infrastructure.

    The only tourist camp that was designed by a young investor dates to 1997 and was built on the river of Was Sagya El Hamra. The young investor was sentenced to death though he aimed to bring groups of tourists from all over the world to the city and to take part in heightening awareness among national and international visitors to correct the stereotypes that they may have about the Sahara as a zone of war and instability.

    The creator of this project is waiting for a savior to save him and his project from demise. In a statement to MWN, he said: "I started this project before I married. Now my child is thirteen years old and he is still asking when the camp will be opened."

    He added' I wrote to the minster of tourism, the minster of justice, the local authorities but no one answers my calls and nobody seems interested in helping as there are some hidden hands who want me to surrender and leave.Which I will never do because they are against real investment. All what I want, he said, is to know who is behind closing my projects and why the court and justice is depriving me and the region form exploiting my projects.”

    Tourists who come today to Smara are obliged to leave it after two or three hours, instead of staying two or three days, as there is no camp where they can spend their nights. The inhabitants of the city, especially families, are deprived from the only space where they could spend their weekends and free time taking into account that Smara is the only city where women do not go to coffees or restaurants as there are none. Thus women and children are obliged to stay confined to the walls of their houses like prisoners.

    Another aspect of Saharan tourism that is not yet exploited is the sites of Rock ArtsUnfortunately, these sites are left unprotected and thus open to theft and vandalism. The site of Asli Bokarch, for instance, has been left without any protection. The man who used to protect it found himself obliged to quit as he was not paid and could no longer afford to stay in the site far from the city with no water, electricity, or food.

    There is no doubt that the creation of this touristic Center of Orientation in Smara is a good step towards enhancing the cultural and the natural heritage of the Sahara. But this initiative needs a more responsible and clear approach so as to encourage the local and national tourist actors to invest in more project, to create more job opportunities and to reinforce the values of solidarity and peace in the region’.

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