Monday, August 03, 2015

Moroccan News Briefs #130

A round up of interesting news, including - fake video violence, 5th Gnaoua Festival in Casa, an app for reporting potholes and online petition to ban Moroccan women working as barmaids... and more 

Saudi King now in Morocco

Saudi Arabian King Salman left the south of France for Morocco on Sunday, cutting short a planned three-week stay after a petition from some 150,000 residents over the closure of a public beach outside his villa.

A local French government official said that about half of the king's 1,000-person entourage had also departed..

The planned three-week visit by the new king and his inner circle at the family's seafront villa in Vallauris, was expected to be a boon for the local economy. But the closure of the public beach for privacy and security reasons stirred up a local storm. The king's installation of an elevator from the beach to the villa, approved for temporary use by local government, also provoked anger among some residents who objected to allowing him this privilege.

Officials say that the elevator will be removed in the coming weeks.

A Saudi source said King Salman had arrived in Morocco, saying this was part of his holiday program and had nothing to do with the media coverage that his visit had attracted.

However, France's loss is a gain for Morocco. News source Media24 said that over one hundred limousines have been spotted at a parking lot near Hotel Mövenpick de Malabata, while the Moroccan and Saudi Arabian flags have been raised in all the main streets of Tangier.

The report went on to add that several units of the Moroccan Navy were deployed near Cape Spartel and at King Salman’s summer palace in Tangier, to secure the Saudi Royal’s residence.

Several units of the Moroccan police were also deployed on the Atlantic cost of Tangier, near the Saudi king’s palace.

Heatwave results in record power consumption

Morocco's National Electricity Office has recorded a new electricity consumption record of 5,860 MW. According to the office this "historic" record is "due in particular to the use of air conditioning and agricultural pumping for irrigation needs" during the heatwave that is affecting all regions of the kingdom.

A statement from the Electricity Office, reports that the power demand reached 5,860 MW, up 190 MW or 3.4% compared to the maximum peak recorded in 2014.which reached 5670 MW  on the 27th of August 2014.

There seems to be no end in sight for the hot period most of the interior of the Kingdom is experiencing.

In Fez the temperatures will remain in the high 30s with the coming Wednesday and Thursday expected to reach 43 degrees Celsius.

Marrakesh will register temperatures over 40 degrees for the next four days.

However, along the coast things are much more enjoyable with Casablanca only reaching 30 degrees on Sunday but remaining mostly between 26 and 28 degrees for the remainder of the week

Fake Video Violence - Four Arrested

Moroccan police have arrested four individuals after discovering that video's of "crimes" had been faked. In response, the public prosecutor has instructed that people posting such videos be placed in detention.

A number of fake video clips have been published in recent weeks along with complaints about the "lack of security" in Morocco. In one case it is believed the scenes of crimes committed in other countries had been edited in order to make them appear as incidents in Morocco.

Morocco World News is carrying a report saying that the police have released a statement saying that some Facebook pages showing footages of the crimes that took place in several areas across Morocco.

The statement added that the Directorate of National Security took these videos seriously and conducted a thorough investigation regarding the crimes shown in the footages. The investigation revealed that some of the footages contained crime scenes accrued in other countries. These scenes have been cut from their overall context and mixed with other scenes to make viewers believe the incidents took place in one of the Moroccan cities.

Morocco’s DGSN therefore officially declared that the incidents did not occur in Morocco. It stressed that it will redouble its ongoing efforts to fight crimes and arrest criminals so as to guarantee the safety of Moroccan citizens.

Last week, multiple media reports in Morocco said dozens of young criminals armed with knives and swords stormed the beach of Rabat, mugging bathers and abusing whoever tried to resist. According to these reports, many citizens were injured during the attack.

Rabat’s Police Department, meanwhile, denied these reports in another statement released on Wednesday.

The 5th Casablanca Gnaoua Festival ~ August 21 to 31

This festival aims to present the Gnaoua heritage as popular culture from Africa to broadcast principles of coexistence, tolerance and peace between peoples, said the festival director Mohamed Aouina, during a press conference in Casablanca.

The opening ceremony will be held in the old medina (Bab Marrakech) and will be marked by a musical procession up to the Place des Nations which will be the main venue for the festival, said Mr. Aouina.

The festival will see the participation of groups from different regions of the Kingdom including the troops of Ahmed maâlams Bakbou Marrakech Stitou Abdelwahd Tangier, Agadir Souss Rachid, Rabat Abdelkader Amlil Fattah.

The festival will feature the participation of some popular Sufi Brotherhoods such as the Hamadcha and Issaoua from Meknes and Casablanca.

An app for reporting potholes!

Sick of potholes in your local area, or less than perfect waste management? Now help is at hand thanks to the ingenuity of two young Moroccan engineers citizens can report urban problems in their city via Mdinti (Hometown) application.

The Mdinti application allows users not only to expose problems but to follow their resolution by the civic organisations concerned. It is suggested by the developers that it could be handy for a number of issues including potholes, damaged street furniture, faulty streetlights and illegal occupations of public places.

Co-founder of the application, Ashraf Bourachid, says he was inspired because of his own experience. "Leaving home I went into an impressive pothole and I ended up with a flat tire. Faced with this situation I felt really helpless and do not know what to do. In talking with my partner, the idea evolved into the creation of an application."

An Arabic version of the application will be available in the coming weeks.

Online petition to support the banning of barmaids

The recent move to ban women working in bars in Fez has divided opinion. On one hand are those who complain that the move is against the principle of gender equality and will damage the tourism industry. Others claim that women working in bars is degrading of Moroccan values.

Now an online petition has been started to show support for the ban. However, they do avoid the equality issue by saying "No Moroccan Female Should Serve In Bars".

The website says:

WE SAY STOP THIS INSANITY RIGHT NOW ! This is unethical & most importantly you are ruining our great Moroccan values. Not to mention this is pure insult against a Muslim country including its great Islamic values.

After several days the petition had gathered 3 signatures.

Concern over "liberalisation of the Media"

Speaking at the 11th National Conference of Justice and Development Party (PJD,) Mustapha El Khalifi, the communications minister, revealed that he had submitted his resignation three times.

The first time was following the controversy on the distribution of gambling advertisements. The second time occurred when 50 million dirhams was granted without tender to production companies making programs for on behalf of the public TV channels. The third attempted resignation of the minister, who declined to give details, was over the "liberalization of the media".

There has been concern in recent months over a series of incidents including that of singer and actress Jennifer Lopez gave a steamy performance in Rabat on May 29th which aired on live television.

The PJD deemed the performance “a breach of public decency,” and are called for a committee to discuss how the show was broadcast in front of millions of people.

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