Friday, November 23, 2012

Moroccan News Briefs #80

This week's wrap-up of news from around Morocco 

Free Press in Morocco

Communications Minister Mustapha Khalfi said this week that there could be no "democratic evolution" in Morocco without a free press.

"There cannot be democratic development without a free and responsible press," Khalfi, who is also government spokesman, told a seminar in Rabat on "Evaluating the freedom of the press."

"Morocco is classed as the worst in north Africa... The observer organisations use indicators that are justified, but other factors are involved that are not very precise, which is why dialogue is needed," he said.

"A number of categories do not reflect the reality on the ground," added Khalfi at the opening of a two-day seminar attended by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

As The View from Fez reported earlier, Al Jazeera TV will be allowed to return to Morocco. In addition, Sky News, BBC and Al-Türkiye will soon have permission to broadcast in Morocco.  The minister said that the accreditation of Al Manar TV and Al Mayadine was still under consideration because of the large number of contacts in this folder. El Khalfi, who presented the budget allocated to communication for the year 2013, said the Moroccan media field would expand to include the linguistic and cultural aspects as required by the new constitution.

 The Moroccan Istiqlal party wants to legalize cannabis cultivation 

In parliament on Tuesday Nouredine Mediane, member of the Istiqlal party, has fiercely defended the legalization of cannabis cultivation in Morocco. He did so in the presence of Interior Minister Laenser.

The President of the Istiqlal group in the House of Representatives, explained that cultivation could be beneficial for citizens, if it is done in limited areas.

Nouredine Mediane, speaking at a session on the budget of the Ministry of Interior, said that "the transformation of barley into beer and figs into mahia, does not prevent the legalization of barley cultivation or the cultivation of figs."

Mahia is a popular traditional alcoholic spirit made from figs. Morocco already has a very successful wine and brewing industry.

Fez airport - bad news

Passenger traffic at the airport Fez Saïss has decreased by 21.36% during the month of October, compared to the same period previous year, according to statistics from the National Office of Airports (ONDA). This is mainly due to the cancelation of Ryanair flights due to the dispute between the airline and ONDA.

Ryanair returns to Morocco

Ryanair, Europe's only ultra-low cost airline, confirmed the return of 2 London-Marrakech routes to its winter schedule, with 8 weekly flights to/from London Stansted (4 per week) and London Luton (4 per week) from February 2013, as late additions to its winter 2012-13 schedule.

According to Ryanair's Stephen McNamara, "Ryanair is pleased to confirm the return of its London Stansted-Marrakech and London Luton-Marrakech routeswhich will start in February 2013, as late additions to our winter 2012-13 schedules, meaning UK passengers can escape the cold on our low cost routes and enjoy some African sun this winter. To celebrate these routes, Ryanair is launching a 100,000 seat sale with prices starting from £18 for travel across Europe in December, which are available for booking until midnight Thur (22 Nov). Since seats at these crazy low prices will be snapped up quickly, we urge passengers to book them immediately on"

Air Arabia announces new route

Air Arabia Maroc, a subsidiary of the Sharjah-based low cost airline, has announced the expansion of its network to Montpellier in southern France on November 14. The carrier is now operating a weekly service with a A320s from Marrakech, complementing existing Montpellier services from Casablanca, Fez and Nador.

Moroccan Unemployed Protest

Moroccan police with batons broke up a protest by more than a thousand unemployed graduates in central Rabat on Wednesday, the second protest this week ahead of the parliamentary vote on the first part of the 2013 budget.

Leftist and Islamist graduates protested in different groups of several hundred each in the area around the Moroccan parliament, in an apparent effort to outwit police who prevented protesters gathering outside the parliament building on Sunday. The graduates said the government had broken promises made in the past year.

"We want jobs," said protester Hicham el-Hachemi. "We got a written promise and the attention of the government, so we are here to push them to take us into consideration."

"If the government doesn't respond, we will unify all the jobless and organise a massive protest," said Mohamed Amine Sekkal, one of the organisers of the protest.

Karan Johar films at Marrakech Festival

Hindi Cinema completes 100 years next year and the Marrakech Film Festival will be the first to pay a tribute to the centenary. As a special gesture they will be screening some of the Hindi movies that have made a mark this year and in the past.

Karan Johar
Karan Johar's Khabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham will be screened on the opening night. Amitabh Bachchan and Karan Johar will be attending the screening at the main square. On 2nd Dec, two of Johar's films that released this year Agneepath and Student Of The Year will be screened at the main square. Johar will be at the screening for Agneepath alongwith Rishi Kapoor. Johar, Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan will atttend the screening at the main sguare for Student of the Year.
For Karan, it is even more special, because perhaps for the first time a festival is having three screenings from his banner.

“It’s a great tribute for the Indian film fraternity to be honoured at an international platform such as this. The festival also has a special emotional connect with me because my films, such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, have a vast audience in Morocco,” says Karan.

Moroccan Children Acting Debut in Advert - Stunning

A new advertisement for Nedbank Private Wealth features an amazing performance by two Moroccan children. We would not normally bring you an advert, but the performance of the children is exceptional and worth watching. The filming was directed by Egg Films' Kim Geldenhuys.

Working closely with M&C Saatchi Abel executive creative director Gordon Ray, art director Helen Botes and producer Bronwyn Henry, Kim shot on location in Morocco at Ait Benhaddou, a fortified city and UNESCO World Heritage Site that has hosted films like Gladiator and Prince of Persia.

The two lead children were street cast, had never acted before, and didn’t speak English, but both produced memorable performances.  with Kim directing them via a Moroccan actress who acted as the translator.


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