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Morocco News meets the World

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    driss alyazamy

    Rabat - The Moroccan school is the main instrument for the dissemination of the values of democracy and human rights, said president of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), Driss El Yazami.

    "We are working with the Ministry of Education as part of the civic platform to promote the culture of human rights," said El Yazami in an interview published Monday by french-speaking daily "Le Matin du Sahara and the Maghreb," adding that schools must not only impart knowledge, but also form the citizen of tomorrow. On the other hand, the Moroccan official said the regional commissions of CNDH should play a greater role in prisons, psychiatric facilities, and rescue centers for children.

    He also noted that the struggle for human rights is an ongoing one, stressing the importance of coordination between the Council and other institutions, including the government and the parliament.

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    money

    By Aziz Allilou- Rabat

    Eight out of ten families in Morocco could not save money last year, according to a recent research made by the Higher Delegation of Planning.

    The Higher Delegation of Planning noted that, “83.3% of the families involved in the survey said that they don’t have the ability to save money, whereas only 16.3% said that they can.”

    According to Assabah newspaper in its February 11th issue, the study that was conducted the last three months of 2013, gives a "negative outlook" on the standard of living in Morocco.

     According to the newspaper, the recent polls show a decrease of 4.3% compared to the polls made in the last quarter of 2012.

     Unable to handle their expenses, 35.9% of the participant families said that they would borrow money or use up their savings, while 57.8% said that their income does not match their expenses.

    Ninety-two percent of the interviewed families claimed the food prices are too high, and 77% expect the food prices to rise even more in the future.

     Edited by Zahra El Alami

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 This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed


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    Zineb El Adaoui, Walid of Kenitra

    Rabat- A Moroccan military officer has been dismissed from his position for refusing to shake hands with the first woman governor in Morocco’s history. 

    According to the Moroccan newspaper Al Massae, the colonel who had refused to shake hands with Kenitra's Wali (governor) Zineb El Adaoui, first woman to hold a governor position in the history of Morocco, has been dismissed from his post as regional commander of the Auxiliary Forces in Kenitra.

    The same source added that the colonel received on Monday morning a telegram from the central command of the Auxiliary Forces informing him of the decision to strike him off the list of public servants.

    Last week, the colonel in question had warned that he would not attend the official ceremony of the inauguration of the newly appointed governor. The military officer had said that he did not want to be forced, for reasons related to his “religious beliefs,” to shake hands with the woman governor.

    As a preliminary decision, the general inspection of the Auxiliary Forces of the north zone had suspended the colonel from his duties as its regional commander in Kenitra.

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


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    fisheries agreement

    Rabat-  The Moroccan House of Representatives unanimously adopted on Monday the fisheries agreement signed between Morocco and the EU last July.

    The four year fisheries agreement had also been approved at a plenary session of the European Parliament.

    It allows fishing vessels from 11 EU countries, mainly Spain, to fish in Moroccan waters in return for an annual EU payment of about 40 million Euros, including 14 million Euros earmarked to support the development of the Moroccan fisheries sector. Some 30 million Euros will be provided through the EU, while an estimated 10 million Euros will be paid to the Moroccan state in fees by ship-owners intending to fish under the agreement.

    Speaking at the session, delegate-minister for foreign affairs and cooperation, Mbarka Bouaida, underlined that the agreement defines relations between Morocco and the European Union in fishing in a way that safeguards Morocco's national interests, supports political bonds with the EU and secure the sustainability of Morocco's sea resources.


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    Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur

    Rabat  -  Moroccan activist and champion of single mothers' rights, Aïcha Ech-Chenna, was made on Monday "Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur" a prestigious French distinction for 52 years of services to the cause of single mothers.

    The reward, that adds to numerous ones won by Ech-Chenna worldwide, is a tribute to "a brave, tenacious and bold woman" for her "constant, resolved, known and recognized" fight to "find a job to (single) women while securing that they will keep their children custody", said French ambassador in Morocco, Charles Fries, who added that the recipient is also rewarded for her contribution to enriching relations between Morocco and France.

    Ech-Chenna said the distinction is another international recognition to "the daily work" of her association "feminine solidarity" and to the humane values for which it has been militating for 50 years now.

    It is time we joined our efforts to settle the real problems facing Moroccan women, she called before underscoring the total support of HM King Mohammed VI to the association and the care that the Sovereign grants to most vulnerable social groups.

    Other co-recipients of the Easter 2013 class of the French legion d'honneur include the French ambassador in Morocco, the medicine Nobel winner François Barré-Sinoussi, former French soccer star Lillian Thuram and other French and foreign figures.

    Ecchenna had been awarded in November 2009 in Minneapolis (USA) the USD 1 million Opus prize which is granted annually to recognize unsung heroes anywhere in the world, solving today’s most persistent social problems.

    She is also the laureate of the 1995 French Republic human rights prize.


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    André-Azoulay

    Seville  -  The reforms carried out by Morocco in different areas made the Kingdom a unique democratic model in the southern shore of the Mediterranean, said, Tuesday in Seville, André Azoulay, the King's advisor and chairman of the Three Cultures Foundation.

     Morocco is the only country in the region, with the exception of Lebanon, which upheld, in 1962 in its Constitution, the principles of the multiparty system and the freedom of expression, said Azoulay at the opening of a symposium entitled "the Arab Spring, moments of change", held on February 11-12 by the Three Cultures Foundation, the Ministry of Moroccans living abroad and the Catedra Rafael Escuredo.

     Morocco adopted the system of market economy while pursuing the openness and reform process in the political, economic, and social fields as well as in other vital sectors, Azoulay said.

     Azoulay stressed the commitment of the Kingdom to continuing the policy of reform which was undertaken in the sixties, noting that it is this commitment that makes the uniqueness of Morocco and its significant achievements in the region.


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    AGERM-00069815-001

    Casablanca- A budget of 2.82 billion dirhams will be spent on the upgrading of the Grand Casablanca and improving the living environment of its inhabitants in 2014 according to MAP.

    Following the speech of King Mohammed VI at the opening of the fall session of Parliament, a reflection device was set up with three major steps. According to the governor of the prefecture of Casablanca, Khalid Safir, this includes a comprehensive assessment of the city’s problems, the establishment of a priority actions plan and, and the launching of this plan for the city in long-term (until 2030).

    Some actions are aimed at getting rid of Casablanca’s slums, finalize financing plans, and launch developmental projects such as the Metro, tram, Bus-Tram integration, the installation of household waste plants, and the upgrade of roads and highways. These projects will be carried out in order to encourage investment, which will support the financial sector, allow for the renovation of the Mohammed V airport, and implement advanced regionalization.

    "In the short term, feasible projects are being developed quickly in order to give credibility to the approach, obtain the citizens’ support, and to win businesses’ and investor’s trust to simplify procedures and to establish a framework for consultation,’’ added Mr. Safir according to MAP.

    “This program is ambitious and will be completely realized in 2014, with projects in the entire region and in all sectors. The public transport project will be given 200 million dirhams and will be provided with 200 additional buses,” the president of the city council, Mohamed Sajid, was quoted by MAP as saying.

    The Ministry of the Interior supports this program as a priority. They have released a special contribution of 1.16 billion dirhams, including 240 million dirhams for the prefectural and provincial councils of Grand Casablanca. About one half of this is to be used for urban upgrading and enhancing security while improving traffic.

    40 million dirhams will be used to provide the city with surveillance cameras, 20 million for the installation and the implementation of a central traffic control, and 50 million for transport equipment. This equipment will improve police intervention capacity and enhance the security of all Casablanca inhabitants, stated the mayor.

    A budget of 365 million dirhams will be allocated to the modernization of road maintenance for both main and auxiliary roads. 245 million dirhams will be allocated to reorganize the Arab League park and city center (35 MDH), to develop green spaces of the city (115 MDH), rehabilitate the Ain Sebaa zoo (65 MDH), and to modernize of the Mohammed V sports complex (30 MDH).

    620 million dirhams will be used to improve the living condition of the suburbs of Casablanca. Priority implementation will be given to the Douars Mkanssa, Sidi Belahcen, and Lahraouine districts. This will be carried out thanks to the contribution from the general state budget, the city council, the National Human Development Initiative (NHRI), and local communities.

    The city council and Lydec (delegated manager of water and electricity distribution) agreed on a specific priority action program with a budget of 560 MDH. This includes  138 MDH to improve public street lighting and  19 MDH  to improve drinking water access and electricity for 1,000 homes, stated the mayor.

    250 MDH will be allocated to improve the sanitation system, including subdivisions not yet connected to the main system. 119 MDH will be used for new operations to connect water, electricity, and sanitation services for the douars (neighborhoods) of the suburbs of Casablanca, which include Mediouna, Mohammedia and Nouaceur.

    Additionally, 480 MDH will be paid to new contractors for the improvement and strengthening of waste management and cleanliness. The aim is for the eradication of slums and relocation of their occupants. 9,250 households are identified as priorities and will be immediately evacuated.


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    stop pedophile

    By Aziz Allilou

    Rabat- The families of pedophilia victims and the human rights association Matkich Wladi  are campaigning to make penalties harsher for convicted pedophiles, in order to stop the rise in cases of sexual exploitation of children.

     Unlike other human rights organizations working to abolish the death penalty in Morocco, Matkich Wladi (Don’t Touch My Children) and the mothers of the victims appeal to lawmakers to impose chemical castration or death as punishments for convicted pedophiles.

     In an interview on Radio Sawa yesterday, Najiba Mounibe, the president of Matkich Wladi said she “realized that the current penalties included in the criminal law of Morocco are not enough to reduce the sexual exploitation of children.’’

     She added that initially, the association solicited the death penalty for the rapists of children under two years old.’ “Yet, many voices from the victim’s families believed that chemical castration is the solution.”

     Chemical castration involves administering medication -- via injection or tablets -- to take away sexual interest and make it impossible for a person to perform sexual acts. The effects are reversible, after the person stops taking the drug.

     Mohamed El-Khadraoui,  a judge at the Court of Cassation in Rabat, told Radio Sawa that “the process of chemical castration has been used in various forms, either forcibly as a sentence or as a way for offenders to reduce their jail time in several countries including Argentina, Australia, Estonia, Israel, Moldova, New Zealand, Poland and Russia.”

    Earlier this year, Moldova legalized the practice for men convicted of  sex crimes against children.

    The practice of forced chemical castration has been called "inhumane treatment" by Amnesty International. The group released a statement after Moldova's legalization of the practice, stating that "any crime shall be punished in a way that abides by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Clearly, in the case of raped minors, public opinion has shifted towards harsher sentences.

     In response to Matkich Wladi’s request, a sociologist stated to Radio Sawa that “the human rights association’s attempts to push the authorities  to impose the barbaric punishment are doomed to failure."

     ”This is an extreme idea and should not be supported by  associations claiming to defend human rights," he added. “

    Edited by Jessica Rohan.

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    Ibtissam Lashgar with her boyfriend Soufiane Fares

    Rabat- When Moroccan divorcee Soumaya moved in with her new French boyfriend she was hoping to forget the unhappiness of her marriage. Instead, she lost her children.

    It's a crime in Muslim Morocco to live together out of wedlock, and unmarried couples not only face police harassment but also the prying eyes of disapproving neighbours.

    Soumaya, a mother of two, says her jealous ex-husband ratted on her to the police when she started living with her boyfriend in Marrakesh, accusing her of prostitution and finding 12 witnesses to support his story.

    "I didn't want to make the same mistake twice," she said of her decision not to re-marry. But the boyfriend eventually left her and she lost custody of the kids.

    Cohabitation may be relatively common in Morocco's swish urban districts, but conservative religious attitudes can be stifling, especially for young couples living in downscale, traditional neighbourhoods.

     Ibtissam Lachgar, an activist and co-founder of a campaign group to promote individual liberties, says she lives happily with her boyfriend in her apartment in the centre of the capital, Rabat.

    "I don't feel my sexual freedom is restricted, even though we're not married. The neighbours don't bother me, probably because I own my apartment," she says.

    The problem begins, she says, when they travel to the country's hinterland and try to stay in a hotel.

    "It's impossible; the law forbids it. They ask to see a marriage certificate. So we're forced to seek alternative arrangements, like staying with friends."

    Last October, social sensibilities were put to the test when activists staged a symbolic "kiss-in" outside parliament.

    They did that to show their solidarity with three teenagers arrested for posting pictures on Facebook of two of them smooching -- a case that sparked an online uproar.

    Around a dozen couples took part in the event, which was swiftly disrupted by a small group of counter-protesters who accused the couples of "atheism," shoving them and throwing chairs at them.

    The court acquitted the teenagers, who had been accused of public indecency, but the offending couple, aged 14 and 15, were reprimanded by the judge.

    Lachgar's boyfriend Soufiane Fares, who studies law in Rabat's twin city of Sale, said "consensual sex between adults is a personal decision which others have no right to interfere with.

     "But living together outside of marriage is very difficult in a conservative society."

    Hostile looks and prejudices

    Ghassan Hakam, in his 30s, has his own experience of this, living in Casablanca with his French girlfriend for three years.

    Originally from Fez, the theatre director says that even in Morocco's largest city, they are constantly aware of their neighbours' displeasure.

    "I try to be discreet, avoiding kissing or touching my girlfriend in the area where we live. But I feel we are being watched, even if they don't say anything," he notes.

    His girlfriend Fanny is sure that her life would be a lot more difficult if she were Moroccan.

    "I would definitely have suffered even more from the hostile looks and prejudices I encounter," she says.

     Hakam, who lived in Paris for six years, doesn't believe he needs to get married to prove his love, and questions the reason for criminalising cohabitation.

    "Are two people who love each other harming society or committing a crime by living together under one roof," he asks.

    Article 490 of Morocco's penal code states that sex outside marriage is punishable by up to one year in jail. In December 2012,  22 feminist organisations called for it to be repealed.

    Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid, who belongs to Morocco's ruling Islamist party, declared his opposition to that.

     "These sexual relationships undermine the foundations of our society," he insisted.

    Karim, a young entrepreneur who recently moved into a crowded neighbourhood of Rabat, no longer lives with his girlfriend.

    "She used to come round to my house, but she couldn't stand the looks of the neighbours, especially the men sitting in the cafe opposite."

     "Sometimes we were forced to return late at night to avoid the intrusive looks, which made us feel we'd committed a crime."

    A study conducted by the health ministry in 2007 indicated that 36 percent of young Moroccan men had had sex outside marriage, while the proportion of unmarried young women who had lost their virginity was much lower, at 15 percent.


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    Ibtissam Lachgar and Soufyane Fares, members of Mali Movement

    Rabat- When Moroccan divorcee Soumaya moved in with her new French boyfriend she was hoping to forget the unhappiness of her marriage. Instead, she lost her children.

    It's a crime in Muslim Morocco to live together out of wedlock, and unmarried couples not only face police harassment but also the prying eyes of disapproving neighbours.

    Soumaya, a mother of two, says her jealous ex-husband ratted on her to the police when she started living with her boyfriend in Marrakesh, accusing her of prostitution and finding 12 witnesses to support his story.

    "I didn't want to make the same mistake twice," she said of her decision not to re-marry. But the boyfriend eventually left her and she lost custody of the kids.

    Cohabitation may be relatively common in Morocco's swish urban districts, but conservative religious attitudes can be stifling, especially for young couples living in downscale, traditional neighbourhoods.

     Ibtissam Lachgar, an activist and co-founder of a campaign group to promote individual liberties, says she lives happily with her boyfriend in her apartment in the centre of the capital, Rabat.

    "I don't feel my sexual freedom is restricted, even though we're not married. The neighbours don't bother me, probably because I own my apartment," she says.

    The problem begins, she says, when they travel to the country's hinterland and try to stay in a hotel.

    "It's impossible; the law forbids it. They ask to see a marriage certificate. So we're forced to seek alternative arrangements, like staying with friends."

    Last October, social sensibilities were put to the test when activists staged a symbolic "kiss-in" outside parliament.

    They did that to show their solidarity with three teenagers arrested for posting pictures on Facebook of two of them smooching -- a case that sparked an online uproar.

    Around a dozen couples took part in the event, which was swiftly disrupted by a small group of counter-protesters who accused the couples of "atheism," shoving them and throwing chairs at them.

    The court acquitted the teenagers, who had been accused of public indecency, but the offending couple, aged 14 and 15, were reprimanded by the judge.

    Lachgar's boyfriend Soufiane Fares, who studies law in Rabat's twin city of Sale, said "consensual sex between adults is a personal decision which others have no right to interfere with.

     "But living together outside of marriage is very difficult in a conservative society."

    Hostile looks and prejudices

    Ghassan Hakam, in his 30s, has his own experience of this, living in Casablanca with his French girlfriend for three years.

    Originally from Fez, the theatre director says that even in Morocco's largest city, they are constantly aware of their neighbours' displeasure.

    "I try to be discreet, avoiding kissing or touching my girlfriend in the area where we live. But I feel we are being watched, even if they don't say anything," he notes.

    His girlfriend Fanny is sure that her life would be a lot more difficult if she were Moroccan.

    "I would definitely have suffered even more from the hostile looks and prejudices I encounter," she says.

     Hakam, who lived in Paris for six years, doesn't believe he needs to get married to prove his love, and questions the reason for criminalising cohabitation.

    "Are two people who love each other harming society or committing a crime by living together under one roof," he asks.

    Article 490 of Morocco's penal code states that sex outside marriage is punishable by up to one year in jail. In December 2012,  22 feminist organisations called for it to be repealed.

    Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid, who belongs to Morocco's ruling Islamist party, declared his opposition to that.

     "These sexual relationships undermine the foundations of our society," he insisted.

    Karim, a young entrepreneur who recently moved into a crowded neighbourhood of Rabat, no longer lives with his girlfriend.

    "She used to come round to my house, but she couldn't stand the looks of the neighbours, especially the men sitting in the cafe opposite."

     "Sometimes we were forced to return late at night to avoid the intrusive looks, which made us feel we'd committed a crime."

    A study conducted by the health ministry in 2007 indicated that 36 percent of young Moroccan men had had sex outside marriage, while the proportion of unmarried young women who had lost their virginity was much lower, at 15 percent.


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    Morocco_maidservants_odile-meylan

    RABAT-  The death of a 14-year-old housemaid abused by her employer has sparked a public outcry in Morocco, giving ammunition to those demanding an end to the exploitation of child workers in the kingdom.

    The girl, known as Fatima, died last March after suffering third-degree burns to her hands and face. Her employer, a woman, was jailed for 20 years in January after being convicted of her death.

    The trial became a symbol of the ordeal that some of the tens of thousands of child domestic workers have to endure in the north African nation, rights groups say.

    Morocco's labour laws prohibit the employment of anyone under the age of 15 and require the authorisation of a guardian for anyone under 18.

    Despite some improvements, the national planning commission says, however, there are still more than 90,000 children under 15 working in Morocco.

    And Human Rights Watch said in January that girls as young as eight continued to work in private homes for up to 12 hours per day, and for as little as $11 (eight euros) per month.

    The country has no laws protecting domestic workers -- both children and adults -- but parliament has tabled a bill aimed at regulating their working conditions.

    The proposed law would give domestic workers contracts and a minimum wage of around $100 a month -- half the national figure -- as well as one day's holiday per week and an annual leave allowance.

    Employers who flaunt these terms could face financial penalties of up to 5,000 dirhams (450 euros, $600).

    Finalised in June, the bill "has been endorsed by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the (state) National Council of Human Rights and we are totally open to all propositions" from parliament, Labour Minister Abdesslam Seddiki told AFP.

    But the legislation has its critics too, and rights groups and opposition politicians have demanded the bill be expanded to offer better working conditions.

    Human Rights Watch last November urged Moroccan lawmakers to revise the bill, saying it had "a unique opportunity to put an end to the exploitation of domestic workers by bringing the draft law in line with standards set by the International Labour Organisation."

    "Morocco can become the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to ratify the domestic workers' treaty," HRW's Tamara Alrifai said in a letter to Seddiki.

    'A girl's place is in school'

    Khadija Rouissi, vice-president of the Moroccan parliament's lower house and member of the PAM opposition party, also thinks the bill does too little to protect underage domestic workers.

    She condemned the proposed salary threshold, saying it was "lower than the minimum wage, on the pretext of encouraging employers to register their employees".

    But she is also deeply concerned about the possibility raised by the bill of allowing youths aged between 15 and 18 working with "the permission of a guardian".

    "The priority is banning minors from working. The place of a girl that age is in school," she said. "Human dignity is the red line."

    Her party has proposed two bills in parliament that would impose a two-year jail term on those who employ minors.

    The labour minister countered that Morocco has already made "great progress" in combatting the problem, saying the number of minors employed as domestic workers had dropped from "600,000 to less than 100,000" in a few years.

    "That doesn't mean that everything is fine. We are going to do everything to fight this issue, the bill is only the beginning," Seddiki said.

     In the absence of a clear law, "state action is limited to trials against the few exploiters who are arrested for murder or abuse," according to the civil society group the Collective for the Eradication of the Work of Child Maids.

    But for Jamila, the neighbour of the woman convicted over the death of 14-year-old Fatima and who was a key witness in the trial, parents should simply keep their children at home, no matter how dire their financial situation.

    "We are calling on all mothers who need money not to send their children to work in homes. The case of Fatima should be an example for all Moroccan families," she said.


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    Freedom of the Press worldwide in 2014 (RWB)

    By Aziz Allilou- Rabat

    Reporters Without Borders ranked Morocco 136th in the world for its annual Press Freedom Index, and 9th in the Arab World.

    Morocco kept the same ranking as last year on the 2014 freedom of the press index. According to the report issued on Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Morocco’s ranking was impacted by the case of Ali Anouzla. Anouzla is a journalist who was arrested last September after he published a video on his website Lakome, which was deemed as promoting terrorism.

    The survey said that the Moroccan authorities “readily confused journalism with terrorism in the case of online newspaper editor Ali Anouzla.

    The survey recoded an improvement of several other Arab countries in terms of the freedom press, including Mauritania, ranked the 60th in the world and remained first among Arab countries, followed by Kuwait (91st overall), Lebanon (106th), Qatar (1113th), United Arab Emirates (118th), Algeria (121st), Tunisia (133rd), and Oman (134th).

    The Reporters Without Borders survey ranked Syria in the 177th position, at the bottom of the ranking, due to its three-year armed conflict. According to RWB, Syria is now “one of the countries where freedom of information and its actors are most in danger, it rubs shoulders with the bottom three. The Syrian crisis has also had dramatic repercussions throughout the region.”

    As usual, the survey ranked Finland at the top of the index for the fourth year in a row, closely followed by the Netherlands and Norway. Surprisingly, the United states of America, one of the most vocal champions of the freedom of expression, fell back 13 places, ranking 46th this year.

    Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based on the organization's assessment of their press freedom records.

    The report consists of a questionnaire sent to 14 partner organizations on five continents and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists, and human rights activists.

    Edited by Katrina Bushko

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


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    King Mohammed VI receiving Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani at Marrakech airport

    By Aziz Allilou- Rabat

    The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Tani offers his palace located on the seaside of Agadir city to king Mohamed VI.

    After he bought it from the family of Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the Emir of Qatar offered his palace to king Mohamed VI. The palace lies on the coast of Agadir.

    According to the 17th issue of the daily Akhbar Al-Yaoum, the procedures for the transfer of the palace’s ownership started earlier this week, and the property has been officially handed over to the Ministry of the Royal Household, Protocol and Chancellery.

    The ceremony of the transfer of the property’s ownership was attended by representatives from the the Embassy of Qatar to Morocco and officials from of the Moroccan Ministry of the Royal Household, Protocol and Chancellery.

    This palace becomes officially the third royal palace in the capital of Souse, after the two royal palaces located in Bensergaw and in Agadir touristic zone respectively.

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


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    Royal Air Maroc

    New York- According to the Canadian news website Le Journal de Montreal, a woman gave birth on Saturday night on a Royal Air Maroc while on a flight between Casablanca to Montreal.

    Baby born onboard a Montreal-bound Royal Air Maroc flightAccording to the same source, a nurse who was on board the aircraft helped the woman to give birth, about 90 minutes before landing in Montreal.

    “The nurse did a good job as the mom and the newborn were doing well, according to Bob Lamle, Head of Division at Urgences-santé,” the same source added.

    This is not the first time a passenger gives birth on a Royal Air Maroc flight. Last August another woman gave birth while onboard a flight between Casablanca and Bologna, Italy.

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


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    Phosphate

    By Aziz Alillou- Rabat

    Saudi Arabia may emerge as a powerful challenger to Moroccan phosphate in the coming years once it begins offering its phosphate  in the world market.

    This is bad news for Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), Morocco's largest state-owned company. Though OCP had been driving the commodity's price higher, it is obliged to approach a new strategy to reduce the price now that Saudi Arabia has started exporting its raw phosphate.

    Since last year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been exporting its share of raw phosphate, providing a new offer in the world market that was hitherto dominated by Morocco.

    According to Moroccan daily Akhbar Al Youm, it is feared that Saudi Arabia will influence the prices, which could have a negative impact on the revenues of phosphate-exporting countries, including Morocco.

    Saudi Arabia will thus be powerful competitor, since it produces phosphates at relatively low cost compared to Morocco. It uses low-cost natural gas to produce ammonia, which is a key ingredient in making diammonium phosphate and monoammonium phosphate.

    Morocco, which sits on more than half the world's phosphate reserves, expends more resources than Saudi Arabia in the extraction of its phosphates.

    Aware of the challenges posed by competitors in the global phosphate market, OCP invested 140 Billion Dirhams to expand its production capacities.

    Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia pool investment composed of Saudi Arabian mining metals company Ma'aden and Mosaic invested $7 billion in their project, which includes a mine and chemical plant to make phosphate-based fertilizer.

    Edited by Jessica Rohan

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


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    Casablanca textile factory

    By Keltoum Elhassiah- Casablanca

    A day in a small textile factory: poor working conditions, low productivity, loss of customers

    In a small, 20-year old factory in Sbata, a neighborhood of Casablanca, several women from the area are working.

    This small factory specializes in making clothes for men, women, and children, such as pants, shirts, and jackets. The factory has not a profitable day in 20 years because of poor working conditions, low productivity, and loss of customers.

    The factory owner, Bouchaïb Mbarki (or "M. Bouchaïb" as the workers call him) was kind enough to open the factory doors for us. And this is what we found.

    Happiness Factory… Really?

    At the factory entrance, there is a well decorated door with the words, "wzine Saada", the happiness factory, written on it. However, when we enter the factory, we discover another reality.

    There are ten female workers and some dilapidated machines. Each woman is responsible for her work on a stitcher or sewing machine. The atmosphere is idle and apathetic.

    "We work every day from 7 :30 AM to 6.30 PM, and we have only one hour of break from 1 to 2 PM for lunch. The day is hard, very hard," said Yamna, a young female worker who has worked here for six years.

    "The pace of activity is really hard. We ten women have to produce 400 pieces per day," she adds. After conversations with other workers, it was apparent that the main cause of the lack of labor is due to the coarseness of Bouchaïb. The workers do not like his rudeness and they leave after one week.

    Enclaved and isolated, the factory is losing more and more customers, according to the workers. "After 20 years, the factory is able to retain some customers. Unfortunately, we are losing them, but I stay optimistic. With a little luck and a lot of effort by the workers, the factory could reinvent itself and persist," insists M. Bouchaïb.

    Miserable Salary

    The main disavantage for the workers is the salary. They are not satisfied with their treatment. Zahira, a worker at the happiness factory, said, "I am married and have three children. My husband doesn’t work and I only receive 250 Dhs per week. It is really hard for me to provide for my entire house."

    At 1 PM, it is lunch break and workers take their homemade sandwiches from their bags. "One hour of break is insufficient for us. We pray or lunch or take a nap," says Yamna. She also mentioned that half of her colleagues go to home to see their children.

    The End of the Day

    After a long day of work, the women are getting ready to leave the factory. They take off their white coats and wish M. Bouchaïb a good evening. The majority of the workers live near the factory, but some take half an hour to get home.

    "When the work ends here, there is always more at home. It is really difficult for me because I come home with horrible back pain and a terrible headache due to the constant noise of sewing machines. How do you want us to take care of our homes and our children ?" demands Saâdia, a 38-years-old worker. The women split up and each goes her own way.

    Translated by Nahla Landolsi. Edited by Katrina Bushko

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


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    North African states

    MARRAKESH, Morocco - Exactly 25 years after the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) of North African states was formed in Marrakesh, business leaders gathered here Monday lamented its failure to integrate the region.

    The five countries that make up the UMA -- Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania -- have a total population of 90 million and had an estimated GDP of 430 billion dollars in 2012, according to Morocco's central bank chief Abdellatif Jouahri.

    But their political divisions, especially the hostile relations between Morocco and Algeria -- whose borders have been closed since 1994 following an attack in Marrakesh which Morocco blamed on Algerian intelligence -- have hampered stronger economic ties.

    Analysts say there is little prospect of closer economic or political cooperation among the UMA's members so long as North Africa's arch rivals remain divided -- and that their differences are centred on the frozen Western Sahara conflict.

    International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, speaking via satellite link, told the business forum that economic integration of the five countries could boost the region's GDP by 2 to 3 percent annually.

    Obstacles to such integration, Lagarde said, include complex bureaucratic procedures, punitively high customs tariffs, limited openness to foreign investment, tax reform and the lack of infrastructure.

    Jouahri said the region's average growth rate of 4.8 percent was not high enough to reduce the problem of youth unemployment, a driving factor behind the revolution in Tunisia three years ago that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring.

    The Marrakesh gathering -- of more than 500 North African entrepreneurs -- is only the third time the business forum has met since it was established in 2007.

    Miriem Bensalah Chaqroun, the president of the Moroccan Business Confederation, which hosted Monday's gathering, deplored "the inertia of the Maghreb," while highlighting a private sector initiative to be adopted this week aimed at boosting regional trade and investment.

    Commerce between the UMA countries amounts to just three percent of their total trade, according to the union's current secretary general Habib Ben Yahia.

    He said this made the region's internal trade "the weakest in the world,"comparing it to more than 60 percent within the European Union, 56 percent in Latin America and 19 percent among Sahel-Saharan countries.

    Morocco's state-run Le Matin newspaper on Monday published a picture of the UMA's founding members -- including Morocco's late king Hassan II, now slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, Tunisia's Ben Ali and Algerian ex-president Chadli Bendjedid -- smiling as they raise their hands together in Marrakesh after their diplomatic triumph 25 years ago.

    Above the picture ran the headline: "Maghreb Union struggles to emerge from its lethargy."

    "It is the lack of political will that hinders Maghreb integration," Mustapha Filali, the union's first secretary general, was quoted as saying in the Tunisian press on Monday, adding that the countries' leaders hadn't met since 1994.


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    Algerian military guards shot a Moroccan citizen in the border region

    Rabat- A new escalation in the tension between Moroccan and Algeria or an accident?

    According to a statement issue by the Moroccan Ministry of Interior, elements of the Algerian National People's Army opened fire towards the Moroccan border control station, Ait Jormane, along the border line between Morocco and Algeria, in the province of Figuig. Two bullets hit the wall of crossing, the statement said.

    The incident takes place little more than a week after Algerian military guards shot a Moroccan citizen in the border region, about 30 km the Moroccan city of Oujda.


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    The Policewoman and the Elderly Man

    Casablanca- When was the last time you helped an elderly man cross the road? You can’t even recall, can you? We have become so self-interest-ridden today that displaying any act of kindness feels like the hardest thing to do. Recently, a Moroccan policewoman reminded us of those little acts that “count the most.”

    The picture of a policewoman helping an elderly man to cross the road has recently gone viral on Moroccan social networks, stirring varying reactions: mostly sympathetic and nostalgic. Why would such a picture go viral? And why would it draw so much attention?

    Well, acts of kindness ostensibly raise eyebrows more than the acts of cruelty and callousness we witness nowadays. Is it because we value time so much that we cannot devote a few minutes to display an act of kindness? Unless we are all Spidermen and Cat Women and are already doing something of unquantifiable importance, I can’t really think of something that holds us back from performing acts of kindness.

    Acts of kindness range from those that don’t even take 10 seconds to those that are long-term projects. When was the last time you watered your busy neighbor’s plants without him requesting? When was the last time you smiled at a random passerby? Oh no, I’m so busy figuring out what my boss will say when I step into my office that I can’t stop and appreciate a nice view! But yes, that’s also an act of kindness!

    Acts of kindness are ironically less difficult when they are self-oriented, when we ourselves are the receivers—this is an idea that we need to eradicate now! Have you ever asked yourself why certain people feel so delighted after performing an act of kindness? Well, if you think about it, you’re going to realize that acts of kindness are a two-way process.  

    The reason why we refrain from displaying kindness towards strangers is because of our ego-centric “self” lurking somewhere inside of us. It asks that haunting question, “What’s the point if you’re getting nothing in return?” Well, that question is completely misinformed. We get at least as many, if not more, benefits as those who are the targets of our kindness.

    I know it may sound like a situational oxymoron, but when we do things for the benefit of others, we are both the givers and the receivers. If you think that the act of giving is analogous to dispossessing, then you’ve never been so wrong! This is why we don’t give much nowadays. It is because we feel like we are being dispossessed when we give things without getting anything in return.

    The reasons behind this feeling are multifarious and can be manifested in everything we do or are exposed to on a daily basis. It would take me many articles to cast light on some of the things responsible for this feeling. However, what matters most is not where that feeling comes from, but how we can stop thinking like this once and for all.

    Just think of it this way: when you give, you’re not being dispossessed, and it’s not a one-way process. When I perform an act of kindness, I’m both the giver and the receiver. Can you see the smile on the police officer’s face as she asks the car drivers on her right to pause for moment as she helps an elderly man get to other side of the road? That smile is one of the things she got in return.

    Think of acts of kindness simply as shopping! Your eyes fall on something you like, you grab it, take it straight to the shopkeeper, and pay for it without feeling dispossessed. Why? Because you’re getting the thing you like in return for your money. All of us like to feel useful, don’t we? Well, that feeling of being useful boosts our self-esteem—and what could be more important than self-esteem?

    Acts of kindness make sense of our existence, which may feel irrational and absurd at times. Even in Waiting for Godot, a drama with one of the most bizarre circumstances one would ever think of, Estragon can’t live without Vladimir!

    Even when the self seems to be the only thing worthy of being the “center of interest,” we can’t live without the other, because the other is ourselves. This is why some people feel delighted when they give things to the other without asking for anything in return. In reality, they’re giving things to themselves.

    Edited by Katrina Bushko

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


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    Migrants Forest

    Taroudant- According to the English El Pais, approximately 30,000 illegal sub-Saharan migrants are camped out in Morocco, waiting for an opportunity to enter Europe through Ceuta and Melilla.

    The same source added that the migrants are exerting a strong migratory pressure around the two cities especially after the last attack in which 15 African migrants died in Tarajal beach, Ceuta.

    The increasing number of illegal sub-Saharan migrants imposes a serious problem for Morocco and Spain.

    Spain has allegedly used “rubber bullets to deter migrants in Ceuta,” which prompted the European Commission to demand explanations from Spain.

    According to El Pais, Cecilia Malmström, the Home Affairs Commissioner, said she was “very concerned about the Spanish border police using rubber bullets to deter migrants in Ceuta.”

    With the repeating attempts to cross the barbed-wire border fence of the two enclaves of Ceuta andMelilla, Spain wants help from its EU partners.

    “We must insist that the European Union gets involved. That is the situation that the Spanish government finds itself in. It must demand European Union involvement,” said Daniel Conesa, spokesman for the Melilla local government on Euronew.

    In a recent YoutTube video, a Spanish military ship was spotted in Moroccan waters without any authorization deporting illegal immigrants.

     Thousands of refugees and illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa flock to Morocco with the aim to cross the sea to Europe, but many who could not make it to the other side stay  in the country illegally in hopes  of finding a job.

    According to a recent documentary released by BBC, Morocco is the one country in the region prepared to help refugees.

     “La Fondation Orient-Occident” (Orient-Occident Foundation), a Moroccan foundation of women,  offers professional training and  opportunities to earn a decent living to hundreds of refugees from troubled areas  of the Middle East and Africa who end up in Morocco.

    Last January, Morocco launched an operation to give residency permits to tens of thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally in efforts to make a difference in their lives and to extend to them new opportunities.

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


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