Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Moroccan News Briefs #118

According to a statement issued the ministry of equipment, transportation and logistics Morocco will reinforce security measures on flights bound for the United States from the Mohammed V airport, following a request from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

These security measures have already been applied in several countries and are taken to counter possible terrorist threats against the civil aviation’s security

Non-detectable explosives

The Ministry of Transport has urged "all travelers" concerned "to take the necessary precautions to arrive early" to avoid "any delay in boarding,"  The Casablanca airport is one of Africa's largest and has daily connections to the New York-JFK, USA.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday that security had been tightened in several airports in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe area from direct flights to the United States. U.S. authorities did not detail the nature of the threat.

U.S. officials are reported to believe the danger is exacerbated by the development of undetectable explosives and the increased movement of jihadist extremists trained in Syria.

A new airport for Marrakech

A 2 July meeting chaired by Moroccan Minister of Equipment, Transportation and Logistics, Aziz Rebbah, has been inspecting plans for a new airport in Marrakech.

Mr. Rebah revealed that the cost of constructing a new airport could reach MAD 4.3 billion ($520 million).

At MAD 4.3 billion and with a capacity of 10 million passengers per year, the future Marrakech airport will provide solutions to the existing problems of the current city airport, whose development is blocked by increasing urbanization.

Although expansion and renovation have increased the capacity of the current airport to 9 million passengers per year, it will not be able to absorb increasing traffic, which is expected to reach 14.37 million passengers in 2030.

Local figures also participated in the meeting, which focused on the various potential locations for the new airport, which would be located within 30 kilometers of the city.

Neighborhoods like Sidi Zouine and Sidi Bouatmane were identified as possible sites for the construction of the new airport.

In related aviation news...

German Lufthansa carrier will start next October a new direct flight between Frankfurt and Marrakech.

Lufthansa will offer two weekly flights between Frankfurt and Marrakech with an Airbus A320 aircraft.

Lufthansa already operates flights between Germany and Marrakech through its low cost affiliate Germanwings, in addition to its regular flights between Casablanca, and Frankfurt, Cologne and Bonn and other flights to Tangiers.

A septuagenarian arrested more than half a century after the murder of his wife

After 51 years on the run, a murderer was arrested by members of the Royal Gendarmerie at El Ksiba near the town of Sidi Slimane.

The fugitive, who killed his wife in 1963 for refusing to share the same bed with him, is said to have committed the crime and then vanished into the countryside.

The man who was twenty-one years at the time of the crime,vanished at night and according to one source hid out in the area in and around Zerhoune and El Hajeb before finally moving to Beni Mellal  where he remained without anyone suspecting anything. The man who is currently 72 years old, had made secret visits to his family in Douar, but after fifty years, he decided to settle there permanently.

Even after returning nobody suspected the man and the files on the crime only came to light when the decided to renew his identity papers.

Ramadan attack on Fes butcher's shop

An employee of a butchers shop in a tourist complex was violently attacked, earlier this week by at least ten people.

Ten individuals are reported to have attacked the butcher near the highway on the outskirts of Fez. According to the victim, who was hospitalized, the attack occurred in front of a children's pool located near the complex where he works. The butcher said that the attackers were armed with knives and had followed him when he left his workplace.

The butcher had in his possession a bag icontaining around 50,000 dirhams. The attackers, who were traveling in a car, took the money and the young man were beaten with serious injuries particularly to his right eye and toes.

According to the daily Al Massae , the police apprehended two of the ten alleged perpetrators who appeared before the trial court of Fez. The defendants, who initially denied the charges, are currently on remand, awaiting trial and the arrest of their alleged accomplices.

Foreign movie productions in Morocco exceed 500 million dirhams in the first half of 2014

During the first six months of this year, the value of investments in foreign films in Morocco reached 502 million dirhams, with a total of twenty-two foreign movies and TV productions filmed.

Many famous movies have been filmed in Morocco such as Babel, a multi-narrative Drama directed by Alejandro González and written by Guillermo Arriaga and starring Brad Pitt and Rock the Kasbah an American comedy film directed by Barry Levinson, with stars including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and Kate Hudson.

According to the Moroccan Cinematographic Centre the 500 Million, ($61 Million) invested in the production of movies in Morocco this year was a huge jump from last year when film investment was only twenty-four million dollars.

Morocco had more than 20 movies, nine were American, four French and others from Germany and Canada. Last May, the German movie producer and director Tom Tykwer filmed some of “A Hologram For The King,” in the Moroccans cities of Laayoun, Tata and at Ouarzazate studios.

Earlier this year, the movie Queen of The Desert directed by Werner Herzog, a German producer and actor, was filmed in Merzouga, Marrakech, Erfoud and Ouarzazate. The move featured Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattison and provided employment for 50 Moroccan actors and more than 1000 extras as well as 65 Moroccan technicians.

TV series such as Game of Thrones also use Morocco as a location

More details on the ban on politics from preachers

The move by the Moroccan King to moderate the political discourse in mosques has been greeted favourably across the country. At a time when events in Syria and Iraq appear to be out of control and attracting young jihadists from as far away as America, Sweden and the UK, Morocco is keeping a close eye on Salafist gatherings.

According to the head of the Moroccan Centre for Values and Modernism, Abdenbi Aydoudi, the July 1st decree that bans imams speaking of politics aims "to preserve the doctrinal unity of the ummah, harmonise religious messages, and equip imams and preachers to combat fundamentalist ideas and preserve the tolerant nature of Islam", .

The decree is also intended to protect religion from political use by Islamist parties, noted Khalid Adlaoui, a member of the youth wing of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP).

The president of the Council of Ulema, Mohamed Yessef, compared clerics "soldiers who stand guard over religion so that it is not affected by any foreign influence that might cause problems".

"One of the tasks of this council is to examine ways of safeguarding the inviolability of mosques, which are considered to be nerve centres of society," Yessef noted.

According to Maghrebia, some imams in recent decades have been implicated in the indoctrination of young jihadists. For example, cheikh Mohamed Fizazi, an icon of salafist takfirism, served prison time for inspiring the 2003 Casablanca attacks.

Morocco has thus adopted a multi-pronged approach to stemming radicalism and dissuading youth from foreign jihad.

"We do not have any figures for the precise number of Moroccan jihadists in Syria, but what is certain is that we are working in perfect harmony with the interior ministry to combat this phenomenon," Habous and Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmed Toufiq said on June 24th.

"In the face of the growing strength of jihadism and fundamentalism within society, Morocco is mobilising all departments concerned by this phenomenon, primarily the departments of the interior and habous," confirmed El Bachir Ahid, a journalist specialising in religious affairs.

Thanks to institutional co-operation, "the Islamic affairs ministry has the means necessary to monitor virtually all 50,000 mosques in the country, including those located in remote and isolated areas," political analyst Omar Belhaj told Magharebia.

Sanaa Maktaoui, a teacher at a private school, is among the citizens welcoming the move.

"The promotion of violence, intolerance, hatred and rejection of others is a red line, which an imam should not cross under any circumstances," she told Magharebia.

As part of the strategy to fight extremism in Morocco, the "Religious Guidance Support Plan" launched in June is putting instructors in places of worship to guide discourse.

Some 1,300 imams-mourchidines (spiritual instructors) will provide religious guidance without inciting intolerance or hatred.

"Their task is to help and guide imams in mosques to preserve the fundamentals of Islam in Morocco, based on the Maliki rite, contrary to takfirism, which is constantly invading the minds of our young people," Toufiq said.

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