Monday, March 15, 2010

Moroccan News Briefs

Bomb scare on flight to Fez

A bomb alert on a Ryanair plane at Charleroi airport south of Brussels turned out to be a false alarm after the plane was evacuated and searched, aviation officials said. Aviation authority BSCA officials said a search of the plane and passengers found nothing and the plane was allowed to take off on its flight to Fez.

The Belgian news agency Belga and the online edition of the newspaper La Libre Belgique cited airport security officials as saying the alert was received at 8 am (0700 GMT) on Sunday, prompting the plane to be evacuated.

A search of the plane and passengers was carried out and completed shortly after 10 am.

Firefighters were also brought in to help deal with the incident, which according to airport officials did not disrupt any of the other incoming or outgoing flight operations at Charleroi.

Church leaders back Morocco 's stand against prosleytising

The Catholic archbishop of Rabat, Vincent Landel was amongst a number of religious leaders who met with Interior minister Taib Cherkaoui to discuss the recent furor over Christians breaking Moroccan laws on proselytising. After the meeting the archbishop said, "as a Catholic church, we do not practice proselytism and the only Catholics in Morocco are foreigners. We respect the Moroccan law, the law of our host country, while having the freedom of worship for foreign Christians". He also said that the meeting, the first of its kind with the Minister of Interior, had been an opportunity to continue dialogue and cooperation "that will benefit our presence in Morocco."

Interior minister Taib Cherkaoui meeting religious leaders

For his part, Chief Rabbi Joseph Israel stressed that Morocco has always been a very tolerant country where Jews have been living for centuries and where religions are practiced freely. He also noted that the existence of a rabbinical chamber in the Casablanca court reflects the climate of tolerance prevailing in the Kingdom.

Referring to the issue of proselytising, he said that "we ask nobody in Morocco to change his religion.”

Father Dmitry Orekhov, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church in Morocco, said that the meeting was an opportunity to thank HM the King, the Moroccan people and Morocco where “we live in peace, prosperity and freedom.”

He also noted that proselytizing is an act prohibited by the Russian Orthodox Church, which punishes such activities.
“We ourselves in Russia are facing the problem of proselytism and are willing to cooperate with Morocco to fight it,” - Father Dmitry Orekhov
For his part, President of the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Church in Morocco, Rev. Jean Luc Blanc, stressed that all forms of proselytising are prohibited by the Evangelical Church, noting that Protestants are very attached to religious freedom.

He also called for distinguishing between religious freedom and proselytism.

Interior Minister Cherkaoui told the meeting that Moroccan authorities appreciated their firm stand and immediate condemnation of proselytising, which aims to undermine "our creeds and our religious spiritual values."

According to Compass Direct News, the U.S. Embassy in Rabat was reportedly given a list this week of 40 citizens to be deported.

Though the U.S. Embassy in Rabat would not comment on the existence of such a list, spokesperson David Ranz confirmed that the Moroccan government does plan to deport more U.S. citizens for alleged “proselytizing.”

“We have been informed by the Moroccan government that it does intend to expel more American citizens,” Ranz said.

Facebook not so tolerant

Moroccan activist Kacem El Ghazzali was recently subjected to Facebook's "terms of service" when a group he had created, entitled “Jeunes pour la séparation entre Religion et Enseignement” (youth for the separation between religion and education), was promptly removed. El Ghazzali emailed Facebook, but received no response. Two days later, his personal account had been deleted from Facebook as well (the movement also has a blog, hosted on Blogger). He says that while the group was live, he received emails from Muslims who opposed the group, as well as other groups he had created.

In a report on Global Voices, Jillian York explains... Over the past few years, Facebook has come under scrutiny a number of times for its seeming hypocrisy on what types of groups it deems inappropriate. Although the site's terms of service (TOS) ban everything from nudity, to speech deemed hateful, to using a pseudonym to open an account, they are selectively enforced. In mid-2009 Facebook officials stated that they would not delete Holocaust denial groups outright despite pressure from Jewish groups, but only a few months earlier deleted accounts of users who posted photographs of themselves breastfeeding their babies. There are numerous other examples.

The TOS appear only to be enforced when enough users report a group as inappropriate, and once a group is removed, its creators often find it impossible to get it back. Users whose personal accounts are removed sometimes create a new account, only to find it deleted again soon afterward.

Good outlook for Moroccan grain crops

Given the recent rains and expectation of warm spring weather, the outlook is good for Moroccan farmers with an expectation of near-record harvests of its major grain crops in this year's agricultural season, said

A new research report by Companies and Markets says - "We forecast wheat production to rise 69.1% year-on-year to 6.31mn tonnes, back around the same level as the largest crop on record recorded in 2006/07 at 6.33mn tones," explained the economic research center.

It said that production could well surpass this mark if the excellent weather in the first seven months of the crop year from June to December 2009 continues through the first half of 2010.

Companies and Markets also noted that barley production is also expected to approach record levels, expecting production to climb 178.8% year on year to 3.55mn tonnes."

"This would be the largest crop since 1996/97 when production hit 3.83mn tones," it concluded, adding that if the good weather continues into the second quarter of 2010, production could surpass that level.

Breaking with the disastrous turnouts of 2005/06 and 2007/08, continued the research center, the good harvest in 2008/09 and the anticipated excellent harvest this current year have helped to support GDP growth." It thus projected a GDP growth of 3.6% this year.

And to tackle the sector's volatility, due to weather vagaries and periodic droughts, Companies and Markets recommends increasing investment in water storage and irrigation infrastructure.

According to the Moroccan agriculture ministry, the country's cereal harvest in the 2008-2009 agricultural season reached 102 million quintals, registering an increase of 98.3% compared to the previous season.

The harvest included soft wheat (43.4 million quintals), barley (37.8 million quintals) and durum wheat (20.3 million quintals).

Though highly sensitive to weather conditions, agriculture plays a major economic and social role in Morocco. It employs about 40% of the active population and contributes to the GDP by up to 30%.

Police arrest Italian and Moroccan with forged $1million note

On Friday in Kenitra police arrested an Italian and a Moroccan national in possession of a forged $1million banknote.

The accused went to a bank agency in the city to deposit money for an association. They were referred to the headquarters of the bank in Casablanca, where it was proven that the note was forged.

The preliminary investigation showed that the note was handed to them by a so-called sponsor, of Italian nationality, to submit it to a charity association in Morocco.

The US Department of State commends Morocco's inter-religious tolerance

In its annual report on Human rights Practices in the world, the US State Department applauded Morocco's efforts to promote inter-religious tolerance."The government [of Morocco] continued to encourage tolerance and respect among religions," the report said, citing in this respect the fact that Jews live in security across the country.

The report underlined that representatives of the Jewish community, estimated by its leaders to number 4,000 members, lived in safety throughout the country, and that the government provided appropriate security, adding that the Moroccan Jews enjoy full freedom of worship.

Princess Lalla Salma and the Fashion Mags

Fashion magazines love "royalty" and from the Danish court to the Moroccan one, the fashion editors tend to go a little gaga. The African website Fashion Africa has been suitably breathless... Princess Lalla Salma has been referred to by many as Africa’s first lady of style ; She hasn’t failed to affirm this assumption as Princess Salma’s wardrobe is primarily designed by Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gauthier, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada and the largest houses of haute couture, she also does wear traditional Moroccan wear, such as kaftans. Her shoes are manufactured on order at Massaro or Fratelli Rossetti or Hogan. This Arabian beauty wears jewels from Cartier, Chaumet, Piaget, Van Cleef. Her perfumes ??? Maison Guerlain, Yves Saint Laurent or Patou.

Princess Lalla Salma (photo: Sandy McCutcheon)

Mrs Obama’s Sense of Style has wowed the Americans over and over again, Africa has found ‘the style wow-factor‘ in Princess Salma.

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