Sunday, February 20, 2011

Moroccan News Briefs

HM Mohammed VI pardons 413 prisoners

Last week saw the celebration on Wednesday of the Eid Al Mawlid (birthday of Prophet Mahomet)and saw the King Mohammed VI pardon 413 prisoners. According to a statement from the Moroccan Ministry of Justice on the occasion of Eid Al Mawlid last year, the Moroccan king pardoned 448 people.

The king of Morocco regularly grants pardon to prisoners on the occasion of religious and national holidays.

Moroccan Protests - update

There are conflicting reports of the possible size of protests in Morocco. Some news media are suggesting that it will be countrywide. Others paint a picture of a very small group that is suffering internal splits.

Moroccans are going to take to the streets on Sunday in protest against “corrupted, elitist government too far from the people,” - The Associated Press.

Novosti reports - Montasser Drissi, one of the organizers of the February 20 exercise,says that the movement is not against the monarchy. "We want a government that represents the people, not the elite."

According to the official government newsagency (MAP) - Moroccan facebook activist group "movement of freedom and democracy now in Morocco" said, on Saturday in a statement, that it had canceled the demonstration due on Sunday, February 20.

Founders of the movement, Antit Rachid, Hicham Ahalla and Ahmed Qatib, announced the cancellation of the demonstration in several social networks and online newspapers.

The decision was made due to “attempts of religious and radical left groups to exploit international events in order to slant this demonstration towards religious and ideological struggles instead of uniting around the needs of Moroccan society to serene reform in the context of stability and coexistence.”

The possibility of major demonstrations is attracting attention around the world. A Canadian news source says - Moroccan websites are abuzz about planned protests Sunday against a government they consider corrupt, elitist and out of touch. And a banned Islamist movement is using the moment to call for democratic change.

Moroccan authorities, though, are giving it all an official shrug, despite a wave of popular uprisings that have swept other Arab nations and unseated dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.

Morocco — like Tunisia and Egypt, a magnet for tourists and a strong Western ally — is considered one of the least likely Arab nations to see street protests bring down the regime. For all the frustration at rising prices and corruption, the country enjoys relative economic openness and political choice. And importantly, the population remains as a whole deeply loyal to the man in charge of it all, King Mohammed VI.

The protest movement's posters, which have been handed out around the country, say they want the government and parliament disbanded and an interim government put in place, and trials for those accused of corruption and "pillaging of the riches of the fatherland." They also want the release of all political prisoners, the Berber language Amazigh to be formally recognized as an official language, the end of "direct and indirect censorship," guaranteed public jobs for anyone with a diploma, a rise in the minimum wage and better social services.

Julia Boutros to perform in Morocco

For the first time in ten years, the Lebanese singer Julia Boutros will perform in Morocco The concert will be on June 5 as part of the Fez Sacred Music Festival.

There is some excitement about the concert with Moroccans describing Julia's voice, as the "Voice of Freedom" and "The Great Voice of Conscience". Julia has devoted her voice since her beginnings to the defense of the just, and this makes her contribution important in light of the political turmoil in Lebanon and the Arab world.

Morocco holds 20th edition of European film weeks

Eight European films will be shown during the 20th edition of the European film weeks in Morocco, to take place from 21 February to 2 March in the two cities Rabat and Casablanca.

A press release said the European film weeks in Morocco, to be held in Rabat from 21 to 28 February and in Casablanca from 23 February to 2 March, will open with the French comedy "Potiche" of the director Francois Ozon, preceded by the Moroccan short film “Apnée”, of Mahassine El Hachadi, winner of “Cinécole Award” at the last Marrakech International Film Festival.

Revenues of the European film weeks will be donated to a Moroccan charity. For two decades, the European film weeks were able to create with the Moroccan film audiences a rich dialogue of exchange of film-related experiences between Europe and the southern Mediterranean region.

Held annually in Morocco since 1991 by the Delegation of the European Union, the European Film Weeks represent one of the most tangible cultural symbols of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership in Morocco. They are the result of the initiative of the EU Delegation as well as EU Member States embassies and cultural institutes, under the patronage of the Ministry of Communications and in partnership with the Moroccan Cinema Centre (Centre Cinématographique Marocain).

The View from Fez recommends "Potiche" where Catherine Deneuve leads a blue-chip cast in the François Ozon screwball comedy which is arch, knowing and self-aware

La Librairie des Colonnes
The role call of famous European writers connected with the modest Tangier bookshop, La Librairie des Colonnes, is impressive: Jean Genet, Joe Orton, Samuel Beckett, Marguerite Yourcenar, Patricia Highsmith and Paul Bowles, to name a few.

However, the shop is not content to only supply the northern Moroccan city with the best of books from France, Spain and the UK, but also hopes to revitalize a literary review, plan new translations into Arabic, and create links between the main centers of Arabic publishing around the Mediterranean.

According to La Librairie's manager, Simon-Pierre Hamelin, the bookshop's European connections will continue, but there is a sense of urgency to its new mission: encouraging Arabic publishing.

"The bookshop has been refurbished thanks to the bibliophile Pierre Berge," he recently told Deutsche Welle. "We have a wonderful shop and an unparalleled opportunity to push Arab publishing into the modern era."

Moroccan architect Khalil Benani, an avid reader and customer at La Librairie des Colonnes, says that Tangier is the ideal location for the bookshop.

"Tangier has always had a nucleus of intellectuals and writers," he said. "This is where they have always met. Now we can come to readings, debates and find newly published books on sale. The boost to Arab publishing is a bold and positive move."

The old Librairie des Colonnes, long in need of refurbishment, was a bit of an institution and set the tone for intellectuals in Tangier. It is located on the main thoroughfare that has cut through the city for over 60 years. Opened in 1949 as an outpost of the French publisher Editions Gallimard, the shop on Boulevard Pasteur came to be associated with the long list of writers who made the city of the Straits of Gibraltar their home either permanently or for a short time.

The connection with France worked both ways, also adding luster to Maghreb novelists associated with the well-stocked shelves. Mohamed Mrabet, for example, was the first Moroccan writer to be published by Gallimard and was translated into 14 languages.

Today, the books on the shelves are largely in French, as they were when the shop was opened. Its management was taken over in 1974 by Tangier local Rachel Muyal, who spent the next 25 years ensuring that no customer left without a good book tucked under their arm.

1 comment:

Soumaya said...

I'm so glad 've found your blog. Thanks for updating me on the moroccan news.