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Morocco News meets the World

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    A group of people called ASWAT Group for sexual minorities launched a campaign for the defense of gays and lesbians in Morocco

    By Majid Morceli

    San Francisco - It’s no secret that Morocco’s economy relies heavily on tourism, and Morocco needs every bit of good news to keep the tourists coming.

    What do Moroccan authorities do when the tourists are thinking twice before booking their ticket to Morocco in light of the beheading of the French citizen in Algeria, and the participation of France and others in the air strike against the terrorist group ISIS? The Moroccan answer is simple: they jailed a British man for four months for being gay according to his family.

    Ray Cole, 70, was arrested while visiting his friend, or male lover, depending on whose telling the story. Not surprising, the Moroccan authorities had been reluctant to even reveal the whereabouts of the British tourist according to his son.

    Now everyone in England and beyond is calling for boycotting Morocco. British Parliament members are already threatening Morocco with dire consequences if they do not release Mr. Cole immediately. This brings back memories of 2008, when a Moroccan teenager was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for allegedly writing, “God, Nation, Barça” on the blackboard at his school. Morocco's motto is, “God, Nation, King.” And remember the romantic kiss? To remind you, two Moroccan teenagers were arrested for being a 'danger to social order' after the photo they posted kissing on Facebook was picked up and printed by a local paper.

    Is this the type of publicity that Morocco needs to bring tourists who are the source of income to thousands of Moroccan families?

    Many will argue that Morocco is a Muslim country and everyone should go by the established rules. Fair enough, but let me remind you that in Morocco there are hundreds of bars, and Alcohol is haram - forbidden- just like homosexuality is haram in Islam. Are foreign-born homosexuals more dangerous to society than those Moroccans who get drunk and go beat their wives and children?

    How can this British man be a danger to society when he simply went to visit his Moroccan lover? Why did the Moroccan authorities confiscate his phone without any due process? He's not the first nor the last who will visit Morocco for reasons other than seeing snake charmers in Jamaa el fna.

    If Moroccan officials do not want people with different sexual orientations visiting the kingdom, they simply need to make it very clear in the laws in place, the same way it is done in Saudi Arabia or Iran, that if you are gay and you visit the country, you will be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed, and if you are lucky to make it out alive from jail, you will be sent back to where you came from.

    It is wrong to tell people that we are the exception and fool them into thinking that we are a secular country, when in fact we are not. This current “Islamic” government needs to understand that it cannot jeopardize the lives of thousands of Moroccans who depend on tourism. Morocco is not Iran or Saudi Arabia. At least these two countries can afford to be thinking backwards—we can’t.

    By arresting this British citizen, there will be a tremendous pressure on the king to “pardon” him. Why put the king in an embarrassing situation where he is forced to release people from jail for crimes that are not supposed to be crimes?

    Was he hurting anyone like the Spanish pedophile who was "mistakenly" released from Moroccan jail? Was he really a danger to society? Ignorance is the danger to society, and those who are holding Morocco hostage to their backward thinking are the danger to all of us.

    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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    Terrorist recruitment ring dismantled in Nador and Melilia, Morocco for the ISIS (Islamic State)

    Marrakech- The Danish Foreign Ministry has warned its citizens from travelling to 28 Muslim countries following the announcement on October 2 that Danish fighters would attack Isis targets in Iraq and a threat from Isis to kidnap and possibly kill Danish citizens.

    The Danish Foreign Service citizen services department advises Danish citizens to use caution when visiting Muslim countries, avoid travelling alone, and avoid spending too much time in places where Westerners congregate, like airports. A government spokesman said that this warning reflects concerns over terrorist threats against coalition partners taking part in air strikes in Iraq, as well as general perceived threats in countries with large Muslim populations where terrorists may focus on Danes.

    Countries on the warning list are Afghanistan, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Palestine, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

    Last week, an article in the Moroccan newspaper L’Economiste noted a 60% rise in cancellations for French tourists going to Morocco following the beheading of a French tourist in Algeria.

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

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    Marrakech, British Man Jailed for 4 Months for Homosexuality

    Marrakech- British citizen Ray Cole, aged 70, was arrested in Marrakech while on holiday, according to his son. His son said he had difficulty in getting any information from the police as to his whereabouts, according to an article in the British daily newspaper the Guardian.

    According to media reports, police searched his mobile phone, email, and Facebook account. They found photographs on his mobile phone that they used to prosecute him in court.

    Charlie Elphicke, a Conservative MP for Dover, branded the charges “medieval” and said it showed British tourists “were not safe in Morocco.”

    The Guardian quotes him as saying “I have been doing all I can to help free Mr. Cole from these appalling charges. I am deeply concerned about his safety and it is clear that if you visit Morocco you are at serious risk of facing trumped up charges for medieval crimes. The message is clear – Morocco is not safe for British tourists.”

    “I am gravely concerned by the state of Moroccan prisons, and the care and the safety he will have in jail,” Elphicke added. “I’m raising it with ministers, asking them to intervene more directly on his behalf. It is a shocking and appalling situation for a British national to be in and it is really important to get him back to the UK.”

    The British Embassy said it was providing consular assistance.

    Homosexuality and any sexual relations outside marriage are against the law in Morocco. The British Foreign Office and tourism organizations generally make it clear that homosexuals are not welcome in Morocco and are in danger from police sting operations. The legal system in Morocco is conducted in Arabic with poor translation, and it is impossible for the ordinary European tourist to understand.

    Although homosexuality is legal in the West, it is not in Morocco. The Moroccan government is cracking down on tourists who come to Morocco with the sole purpose of engaging in sexual relationships

    This incident shows the difference between what is legally permissible in the West based on international notions of human rights and what is legal in Islamic societies, which take a different moral standpoint.

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

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    Prince Moulay Rachid with his wife Oum Keltoum Boufares

    Rabat- The Wedding of Moroccan Prince Moulay Rachid will take place on November 13, the Moroccan daily Assabah reported in its Wednesday issue.

    According to the same source has been postponed twice for protocol reasons.  The wedding is expected to be attended by high dignitaries from a number of countries.

    Prince Moulay Rachid, brother of King Mohammed VI, sealed his union with Miss Oum Keltoum Boufarès last June.

    Oum Keltoum Boufares is the daughter of Mamoun Boufares who was the governor of Marrakech when King Mohammed VI ascended the throne in July 1999.

    Moulay Mamoum Boufarès, is the son of Princess Lalla Khadija, daughter of Sultan Moulay Youssef, who is the father of the late king Mohammed V, the grandfather of King Mohammed VI. Moulay Mamoum Boufarès retired in 2009.


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    Moroccan Hackers Hack Website of Egypt’s Al Azhar

    New York- A group of Moroccan hackers reportedly hacked the official website of Egypt's Al Azhar University in response to the University questioning Morocco’s celebration of Eid al Adha.

    A group called Kuwat Radea Maghribia, or Moroccan Forces of Deterrence conducted the hacking. It came as a reaction to a Fatwa issued over the weekend by al Azhar scholars questioning the validity of the Eid Al Adha holiday in Morocco.

    The group left a message on the hacked page calling on Egyptians to address the problems facing their country.

    A message posted by the hackers says: “Wasn’t it useful for you and your people to address the problem of the bloodbath, murder, poverty, the number of hungry citizen in country, sexual harassment, and killing of souls by your putschist leader?

    But the hacking of the website did not last more than an hour, as the University's' engineers managed to bring it up.


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    Fight between Hamid Chabat and Aziz Lebbar

    Marrakech - King Mohammed VI delivered a landmark speech before the two houses of parliament on Friday in Rabat.

    During his speech, the King criticized the lack of action and effective work of the Moroccan political class, and urged it to develop “a truly ethical charter for political action.”

    “Political discourse requires being honest with the citizens, making objective analyses and ensuring that stakeholders show mutual respect, so they can all be partners in serving the nation, and not just politicians divided by narrow interests”, the King said.

    Shortly after the speech, a fierce fight broke out between Parliamentary Advisor of the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), Aziz Lebbar, and the Secretary General of the independence Party, Hamid Chabat, both from the city of Fez, Morocco’s third largest city.

    The fight took place after Chabat addressed Lebbar congratulating him for the feast of Eid Al Adha. Instead of doing likewise, Lebbar answered him and said, “he was just a thief and he sold the city of Fez.” As soon the fight broke out, some members of Parliament tried to end it.

    The PAM party member claimed that, “Chabat‘s role within the parliament is protecting thugs who have treated him aggressively.” He also accused him of destroying and burning Fez, making its people homeless, and turning it into the capital of criminality.

    Lebbar called PAM, “a clean party”, and urged its members to ”cease all kinds of coordination with parties such as the one led by the criminal Chabat.” On the other hand, he called upon the party to look for other alliances that would push people to eagerly engage in politics.

    Abd-el-Kader Kihal, another member of Chabat’s Independence party, condemned the behavior of Lebbar, as he emphasized that the suitable place to discuss the problems of Fez is not in the parliament.

    Commenting on this incident, Chabat said, “Allbar’s behavior is abnormal.” Additionally, he told Hespress that, “All what happened is essentially due to many actions he carried out as mayor of the of the city of Fez.”

    Immediately after the incident the PAM party decided to exclude Lebbar from its ranks.

    The incident was commented by Moroccans, who deplored the lack of civility of the MPs and their lack of respect towards the King and the Moroccan people.

     

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    Aissa Hayato, President of the African Football Federation (CAF)

    Rabat- The African Football Federation (CAF) rejects Morocco’s request to postpone the upcoming African Cup of Nations (CAN) scheduled to be held in Morocco early next year.

    In a communique released on Saturday, the CAF said that the CAN 2015 will be held as scheduled, adding that since the first edition in 1957,  "the Africa Cup of Nations has never witnessed a deferral or a change in schedule."

    The communique went to add that CAF will examine the Moroccan request at the upcoming meeting of its Executive Committee due to be held on November 2 in Algiers, on sidelines of the second leg of the 2014 CAF Champions League final.

    On Friday the Moroccan Football Federation said in communique that it has asked the CAF to postpone the upcoming CAN 2015 because of the spread of Ebola in several Sub-Saharan African countries.


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    Official Draw of 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Takes Place in Marrakech

    Marrakech- The draw of the FIFA Club World Cup due to take place on December 10-20 in Morocco was held on Saturday in Marrakech.

    Five clubs have so far qualified for this year’s edition of the Club World Cup: Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan, Real Madrid (UEFA), Auckland City (OFC), San Lorenzo (CONMEBOL) and Cruz Azul (CONCACAF).

    Two more teams are still to be determined: the champions of Africa, who will be crowned on November 2nd, and the champions of Asia, who will seal their place on November 1st.

    Here are the results of the draw for the quarter-finals of the competition:

    Preliminary Round:

    Match 1: Maghreb Tetouan Atheltic (MAR) vs Auckland City FC (New Zealand), on December 10, 2014 at Prince Moulay Abdellah sports complex at 19:30 (GMT).

    Quarter finals:

    Match 2: Representative of Africa (AS Vita of RDC or ES Setif of Algeria) vs winner of Match 1. The match will take place on 13 December 2014 at Prince Moulay Abdellah sports complex at 16:00.

    Match 3: Cruz Azul (Mexico) vs representative of Asian Football Federation (Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia or Sydney Wanderers (Australia). The match will take place on December 13, 2014 at the Prince Moulay Abdellah sports complex at 19:30.

    Semi-finals:

    Winner of match 3 vs Real Madrid. The match will take place 16 December 2014 at the Prince Moulay Abdellah sports complex at 19:30.

    Winner of match 2 vs San Lorenzo (Argentina) on December 17, 2014 at the Grand Marrakech stadium at 19:30

    Classification matches:

    5th place: Loser of match 2 vs loser of match 3. The match will take place in December 17, 2014 at the Grand stadium Marrakech at 16:30.

    3rd place: Loser of match 6 vs loser of match 4. The match will take place on December 20, 2014 at the Grand stadium of Marrakech at 16:30.

    Final:

    December 20, 2014 at the Grand stadium Marrakech at 19:30.


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    Rape in Morocco

    Taroudant, Morocco- A girl aged two and 4 months was raped and murdered by her uncle on Sunday, Oct. 12 in the town of Bir Jdid, about 60 kilometers from Casablanca.

    Led by a vicious desire to take revenge of his sister, the offender admitted his shocking crime after being arrested by the authorities on the same day. Aya, the little victim, was “found in a terrible state.”

    “The first elements of the investigation revealed that the girl was deflowered before her murder,” said Najat Anwar, the president of the organization “Touche pas à mon enfant”, (touch not my child) who is following the case.

    Anwar said that "the uncle committed the crime to avenge his sister who gave birth to Aya out of wedlock."

    According to a study conducted by the organization “Touche pas à mon enfant” in 2008, Aya is believed to be the first case in her age to be victim of this brutal crime in the country.

    According to a new UN report entitled “HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT A statistical analysis of violence against children”, prepared by UNICEF, around 120 million girls around the world, nearly one in 10, have been subject to rape or sexual abuse by the time they turn 20.

    Most shockingly, the report shows that the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends.


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    African immigrants sit at the top the border fence, as Spanish Civil Guard officers climb to reach them, during an attempt to cross into Spanish territories, between Morocco and Spain's north African enclave of Melilla

    Marrakech- A Europe-wide operation, backed by Italy, which has the European Union presidency, was proposed in an EU memo dated 10 July 2014.

    The document calls for a joint police operation “Mos Maiorum” or “Our Ancestors”. The operation is now being put into effect.

    The Italian Ministry of Interior is leading the operation with the Italian border police and the EU Border Agency FRONTEX. It is a continuation of previous EU actions against illegal immigration, according to the EU memo. It calls for apprehending illegal immigrants on European territory and the gathering information so that action can be taken against criminal human trafficking organizations.

    The police operation will coordinate the enforcement of border checks and surveillance and an update of the general status on illegal immigration.

    Human rights organizations have pointed out that many migrants are asylum seekers fleeing death and persecution in their country of origin, as well as economic migrants who cannot find work in their own country.

    The island of Lampedusa in Italy is one of the areas swamped with illegal immigrants arriving by boat. Spain and Morocco have also been under pressure for some time by immigrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.

    The data collection will involve migrants’ details, including nationality and date and point of entry into the EU. The goal is to create an up-to-date picture of people trafficking and the continuing abuse of the victims.

    Morocco has recently introduced a process to regulate the presence of African migrants in Morocco, so that some of them can become legal in the country, allowing them to work.


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    Princess Lalla Salma Inaugurates 'House of Life' to Accommodate Oncology Patients

    Marrakech - Princess Lalla Salma, Chairwoman of the Lalla Salma Foundation for Cancer Prevention and Treatment, accompanied by Dominique Ouattara, first lady of Côte d'Ivoire and Bernadette Chirac, President of the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris-Hôpitaux de France, inaugurated, on Monday in Marrakech, the "House of Life," a facility to accommodate the poor patients of the oncology center in the Mohamed VI university hospital of Marrakech. 

    Princess Lalla Salma, accompanied by her guests, also visited the Radiotherapy Department of the Mohammed VI University Hospital where a new linear accelerator, offered by the Foundation, was put into service. 

    The two-floor building, spanning on an area of 2,000 square meters, consists of 22 twin bedrooms, a playroom for children, a dining hall and kitchen, a prayer room, two large lounges, a multipurpose room and administrative blocks.

    The "House of Life" will accommodate poor patients and their families who are not residing in Marrakech, during their treatment period at the Oncology Center.

    The facility, which can house up to 1,450 people per year, required a budget of MAD 15 million, granted by King Mohammed VI, the Lalla Salma Foundation and the Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris-Hôpitaux de France. 

    Subsequently, Princess Lalla Salma, accompanied by Dominique Ouattara and Bernadette Chirac, visited the Radiotherapy Department of the Oncology Centre at the Mohamed VI university hospital of Marrakech. 

    The new linear accelerator will allow to move from 60 to 120 radiotherapy sessions per day and thereby significantly reduce the waiting time of patients from the Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz and the southern regions. 

    This project required a budget of MAD 14 million, including MAD 9 million funded by Lalla Salma Foundation in partnership with the Cement Association.

    On this occasion, Princess Lalla Salma was briefed on the project to build a hematology and pediatric oncology department at the Mohammed VI University Hospital of Marrakech. 

    The project, which is part of an initiative of the Lalla Salma Foundation, aims to complement the provision of care in hematology and oncology at the Mohammed VI Mohammed VI University Hospital with an entity dedicated to taking care of very young patients.

    To be built on area of 2,300 square meters with an estimated investment of MAD 15 million, the facility will consist of a unit for children and infants, a unit for adolescents and a day hospital.


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    French President Francois Hollande during the inauguration of the exhibition Contemporary Morocco at the Arab World Institute

    Rabat- French President Francois Hollande seized the occasion of the inauguration on Tuesday of the exhibition "Contemporary Morocco" at the Arab World Institute, to highlight the willingness of his country to revive its partnership with Morocco.

    In his speech, Holland paid tribute to King Mohammed VI, "with which (he) maintains friendly relations since (his) accession to the presidency of the Republic."

    "This exhibition is an opportunity to recall the importance I attach to the friendship between France and Morocco," he said, hoping that "the two countries remain not only exceptional partners but also deepen their cooperation in all areas.”

    "I want to maintain the trust and overcome the difficulties that sometimes arise because we need each other," said the head the French President.

    He went on to assay that he will "personally ensure that bilateral relations can be expanded and consolidated.

    The relations between Morocco and France have been strained in recent months after a series of incidents that highlighted a crisis of trust between the leaders of both countries.

    Last March, French custom services subjected Moroccan Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, to what was described by Moroccan media as a “humiliating” search while he was on transit at Paris Charles De Gaulle airport on his way to Morocco.

    The inspection procedure, was long and the head of Moroccan diplomacy was forced to remove his coat, belt and other footwear.

    This incident took place a month after the relations between Morocco and France had entered a period of tension following a lawsuit filed by an NGO against Abdellatif Hammouchi, the head of Moroccan Domestic Intelligence Agency (DGST), and the decision of a French judge to send 7 policemen to Moroccan ambassador’s residence to inform Hammouchi, who was accompanying the Interior Minister on a visit to Paris, of a summon issued by the investigating judge.

    To make things worse, French press reported few days later a statement made by Javier Bardem, one of the staunch supporters of the Polisario. In the statement, the Spanish said that during an alleged meeting he had held with the former French Ambassador to the United Nations in 2011, the French diplomat had told him that “Morocco is a mistress who you sleep with every night, who you don’t particularly love but you have to defend.”

    These incidents sparked outrage in Morocco and prompted Paris to apologize to Rabat.

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


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    LUXEMBOURG-BELGIUM-ROYAL-MARRIAGE STEPHANIE WEDDING

    Rabat- The American website “Richest Lifestyle”, dedicated to the lifestyle of celebrities, rich and fabulous people around the globe, released its 2014 ten Most Beautiful First Ladies in Africa, ranking Princess Lalla Salma, consort of Mohamed 6, king of Morocco, on top of the list.

    “Physically as well as intellectually, Lalla Salma is beautiful. She has a beautiful face crowned with red hair, and holds a degree in engineering,” the website wrote.

    Lalla Salma also ranked third in the website’s 2014 list of World’s Most Beautiful First Ladies, preceded only by the Queen Rania of Jordan and Asma al-Assad, spouse of Bashar Al Assad of Syria.

    The wife of Gabonese president Ali Bongo Ondimba, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, who ranked 7 on the website’s list of world’s most beautiful First Ladies, comes on the second rank followed by the Cameronian first lady Chantal Biya.

    In addition to her stunning elegance, the Moroccan first lady is involved in many philanthropic activities in the kingdom and abroad, especially in the fight against cancer.

    In a poll organized by the Washington-based Radio Sawa on the occasion of International Women’s Day this year, the Princess was chosen “most inspiring woman” for Arabs.

    In May 2013, she was elected by UK’s magazine the most elegant woman attending the coronation ceremony of the new Dutch King, Willem-Alexander after his mother Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne.


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    The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child issued its report on Moroccan education

    Fez - The Moroccan Department of Education in Morocco set the 2014-2015 education program schedules specifying September 10 and 11 to be the actual start of the school year for primary and secondary schools, respectively.

    However, classes didn’t really begin until October 13, as class attendance reached its peak. This evident discrepancy between official statements and actual proceedings is common in the start of the Moroccan school year, though it was greater this year.

    The Moroccan general census and Eid al-Adha have both delayed the commencement of studies in public schools, causing students to lose hundreds of study hours. A large number of teachers helped in the counting of Morocco’s inhabitants. Nevertheless, neither the census nor the religious celebration are the actual reason for the late start.

    In reality, it became customary that students do not show interest in starting the new year on time for a variety of reasons such as psychological demotivation, irresponsibility, and lack of administrative rigor and punishment measures.

    On a different note, teachers and students expect novelties in the new program every year, especially in the light of the increasingly serious discussions about reform.

    However, it seems that the Ministry of Education and the government are still confused about the way to manage this reform and the way to start an inclusive restoration of the educational system in response to the wide public demands. Teachers’ demands for the improvement of their working conditions remain unmet, and in fact took turn to the worse recently.

    Rachid Belmokhtar, the appointed Minister of the Education , publicly attributed the dismal situation of education to the teachers accusing them of unjustified absence and laziness. In response, he took measures to slow their promotions, ban them from pursuing higher education, and even prevent them from taking exams to change teaching cycles.

    Overall, the new school year bears no good news for practitioners or students. Official routine postulates school councils and administration close the school year with inclusive reports evaluating the program execution and educational environment and suggesting recommendations for the next year concerning pedagogical materials, human resources, program organization, and so on, to hopefully guarantee better practice and satisfactory results.

    However, teachers find the situation unchanged and even worse after the lengthy summer holiday, which discourages them from contributing to the discussion on the school practice or offering useful insights.

    The 2014-2015 school year bears a resemblance to previous years, bringing back old, persistent problems: uninspiring working conditions, large classes, insufficient human resources, a lack of teaching and learning materials, and many more.

    The demand for classes, materials, teachers, and so on far outstrips the government’s supply. This undesirable situation will eventually lead to low achievement for Moroccan education in general, and perpetuates a vicious circle of failure.

    Among the most recent unprecedented government decisions against state employees is the gradual raising of retirement age to eventually reach 65, which runs against workers’ aspiration to take early retirement and enjoy their pension for a couple of years before passing away. The government says that unless this decision is made, the national pension fund will reach total bankruptcy by the year 2022.

    In the light of this situation, education employees seem to have lost trust in trade unions, since they have demonstrated little or no will to defend employees’ rights to promotion and retirement. Social dialogues between the Ministry of Education and trade unions – presumably representative of weary teaching staff – have occasionally occurred but were not productive, while employees were hoping for a satisfactory outcome. Despite promises to defend teachers’ rights against the government’s unjust decisions, trade unions have given up their allegiance to employees while still chanting the same slogans of social militancy.

    The royal speech opening the parliamentary autumn session on October 10 prompted a heated official debate on the quality of Moroccan public schooling. The monarch’s discourse to the MPs on the topic of stirred the old question of educational reform and instructional language.

    The king’s speech recalled previous speeches by predominantly addressing education reform during the last twelve months, since his message on August 20, 2013. The king has initiated the creation of The Higher Council for Education, appointed a new Minister in charge, asked to review the language of instruction, and demanded a new diagnosis of the education system to find its major deficiencies.

    The King’s instructions have to yield desired outcomes after decades of wrecked education. Otherwise, they remain hollow promises and continue to produce generations of depressed, incompetent graduates. King Mohammed’s speech to the members of the parliament reminded them that education is a central issue for Moroccans. Right after this speech, a fight broke out between two Moroccan MPs inside the house of the parliament, which dramatically shows the extent to which they are obsessed with national issues.

    In sum, there has been much talk on the issue of Moroccan education. Students, as well as teachers, are in a dire need for exciting education environments to avoid lethargy, dropouts, and indifference. Until our policymakers, teachers, students, and all other stakeholders assume their shared responsibilities for the situation and take necessary measures to restore it, our education remains in the intensive care.

    The Moroccan Department of Education in Morocco set the 2014-2015 education program schedules specifying September 10 and 11 to be the actual start of the school year for primary and secondary schools, respectively.

    However, classes didn’t really begin until October 13, as class attendance reached its peak. This evident discrepancy between official statements and actual proceedings is common in the start of the Moroccan school year, though it was greater this year.

    The Moroccan general census and Eid al-Adha have both delayed the commencement of studies in public schools, causing students to lose hundreds of study hours. A large number of teachers helped in the counting of Morocco’s inhabitants.

    Nevertheless, neither the census nor the religious celebration are the actual reason for the late start. In reality, it became customary that students do not show interest in starting the new year on time for a variety of reasons such as psychological demotivation, irresponsibility, and lack of administrative rigor and punishment measures.

    On a different note, teachers and students expect novelties in the new program every year, especially in the light of the increasingly serious discussions about reform.

    However, it seems that the Ministry of Education and the government are still confused about the way to manage this reform and the way to start an inclusive restoration of the educational system in response to the wide public demands. Teachers’ demands for the improvement of their working conditions remain unmet, and in fact took turn to the worse recently.

    Rachid Belmokhtar, the appointed Minister of the Education , publicly attributed the dismal situation of education to the teachers accusing them of unjustified absence and laziness. In response, he took measures to slow their promotions, ban them from pursuing higher education, and even prevent them from taking exams to change teaching cycles.

    Overall, the new school year bears no good news for practitioners or students. Official routine postulates school councils and administration close the school year with inclusive reports evaluating the program execution and educational environment and suggesting recommendations for the next year concerning pedagogical materials, human resources, program organization, and so on, to hopefully guarantee better practice and satisfactory results.

    However, teachers find the situation unchanged and even worse after the lengthy summer holiday, which discourages them from contributing to the discussion on the school practice or offering useful insights.

    The 2014-2015 school year bears a resemblance to previous years, bringing back old, persistent problems: uninspiring working conditions, large classes, insufficient human resources, a lack of teaching and learning materials, and many more.

    The demand for classes, materials, teachers, and so on far outstrips the government’s supply. This undesirable situation will eventually lead to low achievement for Moroccan education in general, and perpetuates a vicious circle of failure. Among the most recent unprecedented government decisions against state employees is the gradual raising of retirement age to eventually reach 65, which runs against workers’ aspiration to take early retirement and enjoy their pension for a couple of years before passing away. The government says that unless this decision is made, the national pension fund will reach total bankruptcy by the year 2022.

    In the light of this situation, education employees seem to have lost trust in trade unions, since they have demonstrated little or no will to defend employees’ rights to promotion and retirement. Social dialogues between the Ministry of Education and trade unions – presumably representative of weary teaching staff – have occasionally occurred but were not productive, while employees were hoping for a satisfactory outcome. Despite promises to defend teachers’ rights against the government’s unjust decisions, trade unions have given up their allegiance to employees while still chanting the same slogans of social militancy.

    The royal speech opening the parliamentary autumn session on October 10 prompted a heated official debate on the quality of Moroccan public schooling. The monarch’s discourse to the MPs on the topic of stirred the old question of educational reform and instructional language.

    The king’s speech recalled previous speeches by predominantly addressing education reform during the last twelve months, since his message on August 20, 2013. The king has initiated the creation of The Higher Council for Education, appointed a new Minister in charge, asked to review the language of instruction, and demanded a new diagnosis of the education system to find its major deficiencies.

    The King’s instructions have to yield desired outcomes after decades of wrecked education. Otherwise, they remain hollow promises and continue to produce generations of depressed, incompetent graduates. King Mohammed’s speech to the members of the parliament reminded them that education is a central issue for Moroccans. Right after this speech, a fight broke out between two Moroccan MPs inside the house of the parliament, which dramatically shows the extent to which they are obsessed with national issues.

    In sum, there has been much talk on the issue of Moroccan education. Students, as well as teachers, are in a dire need for exciting education environments to avoid lethargy, dropouts, and indifference. Until our policymakers, teachers, students, and all other stakeholders assume their shared responsibilities for the situation and take necessary measures to restore it, our education remains in the intensive care.

    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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    mezouar

    Rabat - Morocco strongly condemned on Saturday the shooting of Moroccans citizens by elements of the Algerian army. The shooting, which took place at 12 pm local time (GMT+1), left one person seriously injured.

    In a press conference held on Saturday in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed Morocco's condemnation of this “unacceptable behavior.”

    "This unprecedented attack is an escalation and comes as a culmination of a series of previous incidents by the Algerian authorities at the borders," Mezouar Said.

    The Moroccan Minister went on to say that incidents of this sort "affect the norms of good neighborliness, and are incompatible with the norms of humanitarian and international human rights in dealing with the management of borders between two neighbors that share historical ties."

    The Minister stressed that Morocco's Foreign Ministry summoned the Algerian ambassador on Saturday to protest against this "unacceptable behavior."

    “The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco strongly protests against this direct and unacceptable attack on the life of Moroccan civilians by the Algerian army and denounces an irresponsible act that adds to other provocative actions recently recorded at the borders,” said a statement released by the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    This is the second time this year that the Algerian army opens fire at the borders between the two countries. Last February, Algerian soldiers opened fire at Morocco’s checkpoint of Ait Jormane, in the northeastern province of Figuig. But the shooting did not cause any casualties.

    Following the incident, Morocco’s ambassador in Algeria contacted the Algerian competent authorities and demanded explanations over the circumstances of shootings.


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    Aissa Hayato, President of the African Football Federation (CAF)

    By Majid Morceli

    San Francisco - African Cup of Nations (CAN) organizing committees are an example of exactly what’s wrong with Africa. They place zero value on human life.

    When Morocco rightfully asked for the games to be postponed until the Ebola virus is under control, Issa Hayatou and his crew, chaired by Moroccan Hicham El Amrani, wrote a secret letter to 7 African countries asking them to form a “Plan B”.

    So far, we know that Algeria and South Africa have declined their invitation to the games. Their reason for excusing themselves is based on lack of funds and preparation, not based on the devastating spread of Ebola.

    Any country that cares about the welfare of its people would never even entertain the thought of organizing such a large event when the World Health Organization is discouraging such gatherings in Africa. We already know that Ebola has killed more than 4500 people have so far.

    While Issa Hayatou is frantically searching Africa for someone to host the games, Michel Platini, the UEFA president, said, “We must take into account the decision of global health authorities, due to tight schedules I understand the wish of Issa Hayatou to not postpone the games, but people's health should be a priority."

    Even our own Sports Minister, Mohammed Ouzzine, said, “What’s the significance of the financial losses compared to human losses? A human being is priceless.”

    Now that more people are speaking against going on with the games, and countries like South Africa, who is perhaps the only capable country to host the games, have refused Hayatou’s invitation, CAN 2015 will most likely be postponed, and Issa Hayatou will be seen as someone who should not be in his current job.

    When you next ponder the reasons why Africa has not advanced, now you know whom to blame: those with Hayatou’s mindset, those who do not value African life and don’t see is as a life that needs to be nurtured and saved.

    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 Sport Minister Mohamed Ouzzine speaking before the parliament

    Rabat - Morocco did not renounce to organizing the 30th Africa Cup of Nations (CAN 2015) but asked for postponing it on solid grounds, said youth and sports minister Mohamed Ouzzine.

    Speaking at the house of advisors' question time, Ouzzine noted that Morocco is ready, at the technical and logistical levels, to host the event and the Moroccan soccer team is also ready to give its best performance. The minister underlined, however, that the Moroccans' health is of paramount importance and "we cannot risk it."

    On October 10, Morocco asked the CAF to postpone the 2015 edition of the prestigious continental tournament, initially scheduled to be held in Morocco from January 17 to February 8.

    Morocco’s request seeks to avoid the spread of the Ebola epidemic.


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    Aziz Akhannouch and the FOA representative in Morocco Michael George Hage

    Rabat  - Morocco and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed Wednesday in Khemisset two agreements in the agricultural sector.

     Signed by Agriculture and Marine Fisheries minister Aziz Akhannouch and the FOA representative in Morocco Michael George Hage on the sidelines of the world food Day, the first agreement is aimed at strengthening national capacities for assessing climate change economic impact on agriculture using MOSAICC (MOdelling System for Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change).

    Funded by up to $ 133,000 by FAO, the project also aims to implement the system at a national level to carry out an integrated impact assessment of climate change on agriculture and forests.

    The second agreement concerns the implementation of a project on the "Disposal of obsolete pesticides including Persistent Organic Pollutants" (POPs) as well as a program of integrated pest and pesticides management.

    This project is funded by $ 3.5 million by the Fund for Global Environment in addition to a 24.2 $ million contribution from several Moroccan ministries and institutions.

    The project aims to eliminate inventoried obsolete pesticide stockpiles, including POPs and derivative waste and develop a program to prevent further accumulation of stocks in Morocco.


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    earthquake

    Rabat  - An earthquake measuring 3.1-magnitude tremor on the Richter scale occurred on Thursday in the province of Al Hoceima, according to the National Geophysics Institute.

    The Institute said in a statement that the quake occurred at about 06.32 a.m. (GMT+1, adding that the epicenter is located in the commune of Moulay Ahmed Cherif.

    Since the earthquake is of low magnitude, no casualties or damages were reported.

    Last week, three shakes of low magnitude tremor on the Richter scale were recorded in the same region.

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    Maroc-Chine

    Beijing  - The Moroccan Investment Development Agency (AMDI) and the Chinese Foreign Investment Development Agency signed, on Thursday in Beijing, a memorandum of understanding to foster partnership on investment.

     Inked by AMDI interim director Ali El Yaacoubi and secretary general of the Chinese agency Hu Weiping, in the presence of Morocco's ambassador to China Jaafar Hakim Laalaj, the agreement is meant to reinforce investment projects governed by laws in force in the two countries, pursuant to international practices.

    Under the agreement, the two sides agree to share ideas on laws related to investment and public policies planning rules, as well as conducting studies and consultations on public policies aimed at promoting investments between the two countries. They also agree to set up an action group which will convene on a regular basis to explore opportunities of cooperation.

    The signature of the MoU took place on the sidelines of the 6th Chinese Fair for Foreign Investments held on Oct. 23-24 in Beijing.


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