Thursday, October 11, 2012

Moroccan News Briefs #74

Sit-in supports opening of Algerian-Moroccan border

Moroccan and Algerian activists staged a symbolic sit-in last Sunday to seek the re-opening of their countries' shared land border.

According to Siham Ali reporting for Magharebia, the protest was held on the side-lines of the second Maghreb Social Forum. The October 6th-7th forum in Oujda called for the unification of the Maghreb while the demonstration demanded the re-opening of borders between Morocco and Algeria, giving citizens the freedom to travel and reside in any of the Maghreb countries.

Hammoudi Farah, an Algerian participant, said that opening borders, especially nowadays, where openness and economic partnership are encouraged worldwide, would best serve the interests of the Maghreb and consequently allow visits and communication between Moroccan and Algerian families.

For Toufik Kebbaj, member of the Maghreb Co-ordination for the Defence of Human Rights, the sit-in was the expression of a fundamental and vital request, and the opening of the borders would be the first step toward a long-anticipated unification.

Action on Morocco's 3 billion plastic bags

At long last a nationwide awareness campaign has started to alert Moroccans to the danger of plastic bags to the environment and the need to use other alternatives. The campaign was launched this week, under the motto “Morocco without plastic bags.” It is to be hoped that the campaign is the first of many positive initiatives on what is a major problem in the country.

Sabah Lebbar, writing for The North Africa Post, reports on the campaign.

The campaign, sponsored by a local association, “Mawarid”, seeks to foster public awareness of the danger posed by non-biodegradable plastic bags to the environment and to promote among retailers and consumers environment friendly sustainable alternatives.

The campaign, which also seeks to enhance the involvement of the civil society in promoting a ban on plastic bags, features ads, debates and films on public TV channels, lectures in schools combined with screening of entertaining and educational films, as well as the distribution of green bags in municipal markets and rural souks in cooperation with women’s cooperatives which make these bags. More than 1000 environment friendly bags labelled fairtrade will be distributed, according to the organisers.

Part of the campaign, training workshops for tradesmen will be held in Marrakesh, Agadir and Casablanca, the organizers said.

A bill on the use of degradable and biodegradable plastic bags was adopted in June 2010 and came into force about a year later, the aim being to reduce the consumption of plastic bags in Morocco, the second biggest user of plastic bags in the world.

Plastics bags: average use 12 minutes 

According to 2011 data, the number of bags used annually in Morocco is estimated at 3 billion, while the average consumption of plastic bags per capita amounted to 11.7 kg per year. With these results, Morocco is the second largest consumer in the world, after the United States with 380 billion bags per year.

On average, plastic bags are used for 12 minutes, but they take between 100 and 400 years to be degraded.

Moratorium On International Adoptions

Moroccan Justice Minister Mustafa Ramid has issued a moratorium on international adoptions of Moroccan children, Ansamed reported on Monday (October 8th). Ramid justified his decision with concerns that children adopted abroad will not be brought up to respect their culture, tradition and religion.

According to, the motion affects 44 Spanish families who are currently in the process of adopting children from the Laila Meryam orphanage in Rabat. The move by Ramid has many opponents who say that adoption is the only way for many children to escape from the poor conditions in Moroccan orphanages.

Morocco predicts drop of 25% in citrus production

At a time when Morocco is intent upon raising citrus exports to 1.3 million tonnes by the end of 2018, the national citrus output is expected to decline 25% next year as a result of bad weather in 2012. The negative prediction was issued in a statement by the Agriculture Ministry. The news comes at a time of an overall global fall in output.

A 25% drop would represent a fall of 1.5 million tonnes. The ministry says the resultant prices would be similar to those of the previous campaign, but would increase towards December. The campaign usually starts in October and runs until July.

The ministry said tangerines and oranges production should fall by 24 percent and 27 percent to 675,000 and 763,000 tonnes respectively. Production of grapefruit, lemon and pomelo is expected to rise 38 percent to 62,000 tonnes.

Morocco is Africa's third largest citrus exporter, after South Africa and Egypt. last season the country exported 550,000 tonnes of oranges and over 100,000 tonnes of orange juice, the bulk of which was destined for European markets.

In July, the U.S. Agriculture Department said global citrus production dropped 7 percent from the previous year to 51.1 million tonnes.

Moroccan pioneer in women’s right to speak on aftermath of Arab Spring

Fatima Sadiqi, who founded a women’s NGO working on family law reforms and women’s rights in her native Morocco, will speak on “North African Women’s Rights in the Aftermath of the Arab Spring” as this year’s J. Jobe Soffa and Marguerite Jacqmin Soffa Distinguished International Visitor. She will deliver the Soffa Lecture on Thursday, November 8, at 4 p.m. at Union South. The lecture, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the UW-Madison Division of International Studies.

Sadiqi, a professor of linguistics and gender studies at the University of Fes, is a pioneer in women’s rights and continues her activism to include women in the post “Arab Spring” processes of democratization in the region.

Through her writing, networking with other Moroccan women and agitating through the press, Fatima Sidiqi helped successfully lobby for important changes in Moroccan Family Law entitling women to a range of civil rights.

These include raising the minimum marriage age from 15 to 18, restricting polygamy, and no longer allowing men to unilaterally “repudiate” (divorce) their wives without compensation. Last year, she was involved in the latest campaign against early marriage, raising awareness following the suicide of Amina Filali, a 16-year-old Morrocan girl who was forced to marry.

In her work, Sadiqi found that those who speak only Berber—viewed as a “female language” associated with the home and hearth—lack access to information and resources in Morocco, where Arabic, French and English are the dominant languages. Most Berber-only speakers are women, who do not attend school and are illiterate. Largely as a result of her work, in the 2011 new Constitution, Berber has been raised to the status of an official language

“I have always stressed the powerful connections between language and women’s rights. I see the official recognition of Berber as a recognition of Berber women. I have also struggled for the inclusion of women’s voices in Moroccan education and help democratize our higher education by introducing gender studies…. The moment you gain languages you also gain access to the language of the media, the government, the mosque – and you start speaking the language of authority,” Sadiqi says.

Sadiqi, a former Fulbright Scholar and Harvard Fellowship recipient, founded the first Moroccan Centre for Studies and Research on Women in 1998, the first graduate program on gender studies in 2000 at the University of Fes, and the Isis Centre for Women and Development, an NGO focused on family law reforms and women’s rights in Morocco. She co-founded the International Institute for Languages and Cultures with her husband, Moha Ennaji, and in 2009 she was elected President of the National Union of Women’s Associations, which seeks to promote and sustain women’s rights.

She was appointed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan to the UN Council for Development Policy (E.C.O.S.S.O.C.), and by the king of Morocco to the Administrative Board of the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture (IRCAM).

Fez Tango 2012

It may not be a traditional Moroccan dance, but if Tango is your thing then what better opportunity could there be than spending six days - October 18 to 24 -  immersing yourself dancing in the world's largest medina - the Medina of Fez yourself in the medina the largest in the world.

Tango at Riad Alkantara

Milongas will be led by Ben Kerroum Antoinette, DJ The Dinamica in Cagnes-sur-Mer, Nice, Paris and Italy. The dance classes will be led by Jorge Rodriguez, choreographer, dancer and teacher of Argentine Tango in Paris and Bordeaux.

For more information email

Floods sweep away two people

On Wednesday afternoon two people died after being swept away by a flood in the province of Oued Midelt. According to local authorities the victims were a managed 60 and his 20 year old daughter. It is believed that they were taken by surprise by the flash flood in the Oued Tabalkhirt common. Reports speak of torrential rain in the region.

Erfoud - the new Mars?

Hamada desert in Morocco
Hamada desert on Mars
Visitors to Morocco who visit the area around Erfoud (Southeast Morocco) often comment that geography is "like a moonscape". NASA however thinks it is more like the surface of Mars and so NASA is coming to Erfoud at the beginning of 2013.

On February 13 NASA will launch a scientific experiment in which a group of researchers simulate future trips to Mars. One hundred space scientists from different countries will travel to Erfoud from 13 to 28 February and will run the experiments when they locate geographic features that resemble those on Mars.


No comments: