Monday, August 29, 2011

Morocco In the News: Monday, August 29th

HM the King inaugurates in Tetouan HRH Princess Lalla Malika center for training health volunteers and professionals
Tetouan - HM King Mohammed VI, accompanied by HRH Princess Lalla Malika inaugurated, on Friday in Tetouan, HRH Princess Lalla Malika center for training health volunteers and professionals, to be built for a total cost of 9.1 million dirhams.
-    HRH Princess Lalla Malika Center is an embodiment of the Moroccan Red Crescent policy aiming to reinforce health training institutions .
-    The center will provide training to 350 students.

After unveiling the commemorative plaque and cutting the symbolic ribbon, the Sovereign toured the different facilities of the new Center which is designed to provide training in first aid, nursing and sanitary techniques.

The Center, to be achieved as part of the Moroccan Red Crescent policy to reinforce health training institutions, will substitute the existing nursing training school at the Moroccan Red Crescent hospital in Tetouan.

The equipment and design of the new Center will enable improving the training provided by the school so far as well as diversifying and increasing the number of beneficiaries, which will jump from 150 to 350 students annually.

Built over an area of 1,638 square meters, HRH Princess Lalla Malika Center will house a dormitory, an amphitheatre, four classrooms, a library, a computer hall, administration offices, a kitchen and a refectory.

On this occasion, HRH Princess Lalla Malika, Chairwoman of the Moroccan Red Crescent, handed HM the King a book on the activities of the organization.
Moroccan youth push for political representation.
2011-08-26 By Siham Ali for Magharebia
Young political activists in Morocco recently formed a new group to press for reform and to urge the creation of a national electoral list reserved for youth ahead of the November 25th legislative elections.
Members of the newly created "Moroccan Youth Movement for Political Representation Now" met with Youth Minister Moncef Belkhayat on Tuesday (August 23rd) in Rabat to advocate for a national list reserved for young people, half men and half women. Twenty-nine youth organisations and 17 civil society groups are affiliated with the movement.
The youth list will guarantee young people's representation in the Chamber of Representatives while at the same time encouraging "a renewal of the elite and inject new blood into institutions", according to the activists.
The movement also proposed the creation of a national fund to support young people that will protect their interests.
Youth Minister Belkhayat gave his support to the national list proposal, citing a recent royal speech that stressed the need to foster the emergence of new political elites among young people.
The youth initiative follows lobbying by the women's movement, which has pushed for a list to be reserved solely for women. The interior ministry previously proposed the adoption of a 90-seat national list for young people and women.
According to Abdelkader Kihel, general secretary for young people with the Istiqlal Party, the government's proposal was welcomed by young people but attempts have since been made to hijack it.
"Political parties have a problem with young people. There is a huge gap between what they say and what they do," he said.
The youth movement's goal is to bring about a full-scale renewal of the elites, which are one of the driving forces of democracy, according to Ali El Yazghi, secretary-general for young people with the Socialist Union of Popular Forces. He said that this renewal must happen immediately with election lists reserved for young people.
Young people from the movement say they are determined to achieve their goal of rejuvenating the political elite and accuse parties of having no clear vision on the issue.
If the movement's demands are not met, they plan to step up their campaign with protests to call for young people to be represented in the legislature.
The idea of a national list is an issue on which no consensus has yet been reached, government spokesman Khalid Naciri told reporters August 18th. He stated that there are differences of opinion between those who want it to be reserved solely for women, those who want it to be reserved for young people, and those who believe there is no point in implementing it.
"You must put yourselves in the shoes of the Ministry of the Interior, which is trying to establish a consensus by consulting political parties," Naciri said.
The ball is now in the court of political parties, which have differing views on the matter. The president of the National Council of the Party of Justice and Development, Saaddine Othmani, said that his party proposed that a third of the list be reserved for women, a third reserved for young people and the remainder for Moroccans living overseas.
In his view, young people should set up bodies of their own to solve the problem of representation as there cannot be several national lists.
As for the women's movement, the national co-ordinator for the Movement of Egalitarian Democracy, Khadija Rebbah, said that the national list should be reserved for women only. She said positive discrimination has historically focused on the sex with the least representation, whereas young people are an age-based category.
Morocco taps benefits of Barbary fig oil
By Mohamed Chakir (AFP)
RABAT — Barbary fig oil, celebrated as an effective anti-ageing skin potion, is following argan oil as a great new cosmetic export from Morocco.
But the tiny amount of oil extracted from each cactus fruit makes Barbary fig oil the most expensive on the market, about a 1,000 euros ($1,440) a litre.
Beyond its cosmetic virtues, the United Nations is urging Morocco to develop the cactus plant in a country where 80 percent of farming is carried out in arid or semi-arid regions.
The push to develop Barbary fig, a cactus fruit well-adapted to extreme weather conditions, comes with a belief that several revenue streams could stem from it.
If successful, the cactus could stand as a business model to other countries looking for cash crops suitable to inhospitably hot climates.
Eight tonnes of the Barbary fig fruit -- sometimes known as prickly pear -- are needed to produce a litre (quart) of oil used for cosmetics, said Karim Anegay, head of the cactus programme at the economic promotion office for southern Morocco.
"This oil is commercialised by Moroccan companies as its anti-ageing virtues are of excellent quality but it's still early days," he said.
In Casablanca, cosmetics company Azabane uses Barbary fig oil in shampoo and creams.
Redouane Stouti, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, owns a farm in the Errhamana region, where he produces 10 litres a month from his vast plantation.
"With the help of a machine, the fruit seeds are pressed as is," he said.
"I have 20 points of sale in Morocco under the 'Coeur de Figue' appellation," he said as he toured a series of alleys where about 30 women were picking the thorny fruit.
Researcher Mohamed Boujnah said the oil was "rich in Vitamin E with a great anti-oxidant power".
Sofia, a 50-year-old customer, said the oil was "wonderful".
"Ever since I've used it I've seen an improvement and elasticity in my skin," she said.
In the Gulemim and Sidi Ifni regions, both extremely arid, Morocco began an ambitious programme to increase cactus production.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) contributed $1.7 million to the program and provided technical assistance, said El Kebir Alaouoi M'Daghri, the programme director.
Annual production of Barbary fig fruit in Morocco is 1.2 million tonnes from 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) of plantations, mostly in southern regions.
Originally imported from the Americas in the 16th century, the cactus and its fruit are used traditionally, often as food. Orangish-red when ripe, the fruit's juicy insides taste something like a very sweet watermelon.
UN experts say the fruit can even be used as sustenance during famines.
In southern regions, "conventional farming can no longer provide added value and that is why we have found cactus cultivation as an alternative," M'Daghri said.
The Sidi Ifni province recently held a festival to promote the cactus fruit, and the UN-backed program is currently building installations to improve production of Morocco's latest agricultural initiative.
Anita Breland
During Ramadan, after a morning of closed shop doors and empty souks, shoppers turn out in force for a few short hours each afternoon.  They must make their purchases in good time to be home when the cannon fires and it’s time to break the fast. It’s not all fruits, veggies and meats, though. For the past several weeks, enormous quantities of packaged smoothies and other sweetened drinks have also been available from the kiosks that dot the souks.
Tetra-Pak mountains front skinny refrigerators packed with chilled beverages, and compete with pedestrians in the narrow streets. Rows of the boxes climb the walls behind piles of peppers and carrots. Their contents don’t have the wow factor of the famous Moroccan yogurt and juice drinks I’ve enjoyed here, but some, like the avocado milkshakes, are quite tasty.
In the New City, the instant soups at Marjane supermarket were rearranged last week to showcase harira. Clearly, not everyone enjoys a solid month of homemade soup to break the fast, so these have come in handy—I confess to buying a couple of soup packets myself, to ward off panic when the medina souks are closed. They’re ok, but definitely improve when pumped up with extra vermicelli and a meatball or two.
With just a week of Ramadan to go, stocks of dates are somewhat depleted, at least the fancy sort, in boxes. Sales are on now, to move those that remain on supermarket shelves. Quite a difference scene from the shoulder-high stacks of imported dates on this spot just few frenzied weeks ago.
Restaurants have been closed during the day since the beginning of August, and those that open at all, offer limited evening service. Tables at normally busy cafés are pushed together, service suspended. I look forward to having familiar coffee bars, neighborhood restaurants and food stalls back in business at mid-day, welcoming customers for luncheon and tea breaks.

After the Tetra-Pak heaps are gone and the freezers in the souk turned on again, it will be a treat to stop by a kiosk for a Magnum (double caramel, please). It’s still summer, after all!

The slower pace of medina life will continue until August 30 and the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.
Amazigh activists launch pan-Maghreb body.
A new Amazigh cultural association hopes to foster economic and political development across North Africa.
Interview by Imrane Binoual for Magharebia in Casablanca – 22/08/11
Amazigh campaigners from across the Maghreb gathered in Tangier last month to celebrate their ancestral heritage. Activists also used the opportunity to launch a new association designed to promote Amazigh rights, language and culture. The Union of North African Peoples (UNAP) was formed by joint declaration of representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and the Canary Islands. Magharebia sat down with Morocco representative and group vice-president, Ahmed Arrehmouch, to hear how the new association plans to promote Amazigh heritage and Maghreb unity.
Magharebia: How did you come up with the idea for creating a Union of North African Peoples?
Ahmed Arrehmouch: The groundwork was laid before the Tangier Appeal and the announcement about the creation of the Union of North African Peoples (UNAP). Preparatory meetings were held in February in Paris and another was held in the Lebanon. There were discussions about the strategic aims of the Amazigh movement in North Africa. Above all, we felt that the movement and the structure within which we were operating, the World Amazigh Congress, was somewhat weak. This spurred us to think about alternatives taking different forms, with new tools and a new strategic vision. So we agreed to hold an emergency meeting. The events that the region has witnessed accelerated the process of creating a regional framework that could play political, rather than civic, roles and a political role in dealings with governments and international NGOs working to promote democracy and development for the peoples in the region.
Magharebia: Why did you announce the new group during the Touiza festival?
Arrehmouch: We had planned to hold a meeting in June to create the body, but since the organisers of the Touiza festival decided to hold their seventh Mediterranean Festival of Amazigh Culture at around the same time, we seized the opportunity and they said they were willing to host our meeting. So, representatives of Amazigh movements across North Africa came to Morocco for the meeting to create the union, and this culminated in the Tangier Appeal.
Magharebia: Moroccan Amazighs recently won recognition of their language in the new constitution while Tunisian and Libyan Amazighs are seeing freedom for the first time. Did the situation in the region contribute to the creation of your new organisation?
Arrehmouch: We felt that the situation across the region made it a very opportune moment, especially because the Amazigh movement played an important role in the February 20 movement in Morocco. In Algeria, too, the RCD (Rally for Culture and Democracy) was the driving force behind the protests in Algiers. We saw the emergence of lively youth and academic movements in Tunisia after the revolution there. They have begun to express themselves freely and have underlined their willingness to include Amazigh organisations. In Egypt, too, people have spoken up and another political movement has emerged in Libya and is represented on the Transitional Council there.
This is the geographical environment in which Amazigh voices expressing a political vision have been heard. The process was sped up by the weakness of the World Amazigh Congress (WAC) in North Africa.
Magharebia: So are you presenting yourselves as an alternative to the WAC?
Arrehmouch: The World Amazigh Congress must now be re-energised, pick itself up and be as dynamic as it used to be. If it can do that, we could work in tandem. However, if its leaders do not do their job, this new organisation could become an alternative to it.
Magharebia: What are the first steps that you plan to take?
Arrehmouch: The first step will be to go through the legal process of declaring the UNAP to the relevant authorities. This will be done both in Morocco and abroad. The next step will be to hold a meeting from 25-26 August in Tunisia to put together an action plan for the union. We also intend to organise an international forum to be attended by certain UN agencies that are working to support efforts to promote democracy and human rights. We anticipate that it will be held in the Canary Islands by the end of this year.
Magharebia: Have there been requests to join the new body?
Arrehmouch: We haven't yet opened the door for organisations to become affiliated with this body. In terms of policy, however, the Tangier Appeal stated that the body is open to all Amazigh forces and all NGOs helping people who are subjugated and impoverished in North Africa. For the organisation to begin operating, first of all we need to adopt bylaws and the procedure for membership applications. We're still at the stage of hammering out these issues, which will be on the agenda for the meeting that will take place in Tunisia from 25-26 August
Moroccan civil society forms watchdog group.
2011-08-22 By Siham Ali for Magharebia
Reform campaigners in Morocco hope a new association will ensure authorities follow through on plans for change.
Reform campaigners in Morocco hope a new association will ensure authorities follow through on plans for change.
Moroccan activists, intellectuals and academics recently formed a "civic monitoring movement" designed to keep a close eye on political issues in the kingdom.
The new movement plans "to align with modernising forces to build a civil state where law and social justice prevail", according to members. The group, which met for the first time August 3rd in Rabat, also hopes to promote democracy while serving in an oversight capacity.
Since the adoption of the new constitution, some major issues that require civic monitoring have arisen, necessitating research and studies as well as advocacy and suitable proposals for institutions such as parliament and the government, professor and movement member Nadir Moumni said.
He told Magharebia that the aim was to participate in public discussions about government policy, institutional development and identify failings in governance and rule of law.
"In my view, we need to begin by looking at the laws governing elections," he asserted.
Sociologist Jamil Narouti lauded the initiative, saying it will lead to lobbying that could rectify failings. He said that the fact that this discussion was happening was beneficial to reform efforts. Many members of the movement, such as Khadija Rouissi, the president of Bayt Al Hikma, and Amazigh campaigner Ahmed Assid, oppose conservative ideas, he noted.
Narouti also pointed out that this difference in opinions could lead to heated debates with other schools of thought, endangering an environment of healthy dialogue.
Vice-president of the Party of Justice and Development Lahcen Daoudi told Magharebia that it was too early to have preconceived ideas about the movement.
"We judge actions and proposals, not people. All organisations are positive as long as they are created in a transparent way," he said. Lecturer Nadir Moumni said that the organisation was entirely independent of all partisan and civic institutions, created pursuant to the royal decree of 1958 on civil liberties.
As for the general public, many people have hailed the creation of this new civil-society framework, which satisfies the public demand for a neutral movement that can identify failings in public policy and ask tough questions.
"From now on, civil society must play a monitoring and spotlighting role," commented Sara El Menouer, a 21-year-old politics student. "By creating a movement, especially during this period of numerous political challenges, citizens can have faith in the ideas that will arise out of the discussions that will be had."
Hamza El Ouardi, a sales executive, hopes that the group's advocacy will bear fruit and not have its calls fall on deaf ears.
"If the movement receives support from several civil-society organisations and actors, it will be a major force capable of achieving many things. The next few weeks will show us whether this movement will actually be able to achieve its goals," he said.
Censorship of the internet in the Morocco
Sun, 08/21/2011 - 11:35pm  
The policy of the Morocco in the access to Internet was until recently rather liberal, the Government has encouraged the development of the media. Nevertheless, more than two years the trend reversed and cases of censorship are becoming more and more common.

Cases of censorship are primarily the result of the telephone operator and Internet dominant Morocco Telecom (a subsidiary of Vivendi), it is practiced in a manner totally arbitrary and opaque, Morocco telecom claiming technical problems for claim. It is characterized by the absence of recourse to a court decision, although the Morocco proclaims a “State of law”.

Morocco Telecom blocked several blogging sites, such as LiveJournal. Reporters without borders says that the Morocco often censor political websites claiming independence of Western Sahara. Google Earth was also blocked by Morocco Telecom at a time for reasons that remain obscure, some hypotheses suggest that the goal would be to make the difficult location of the Royal palaces, others say that it is to hide the locations of secret prisons. This block is completely arbitrary and is outside any judicial procedure, what can that generate the most far-fetched hypotheses as to his motives.

Today, only the site is censored, as Google Earth, YouTube and sites claiming the independence of Western Sahara have become available.
Major sites of the Frente Polisario
November 21, 2005, the Morocco is blocking the main sites of the Polisario, namely and Then, soon after, he made with the site when he learns that it is recommended to divert the blocking.
Today, all these sites are accessible.
Google Earth
Total censorship of Google Earth to the Morocco is a case unique in the world, while some countries have asked Google to not display or flouter certain places or sensitive buildings, Morocco Telecom has chosen for mysterious reasons to ban the two sites in all.

Morocco Telecom opposed an end to not receive any request for clarification on this block, claiming denials by Google sometimes clumsy way of waves technical problems, problems completely.

This decision is made even more incomprehensible by the fact that the other sites of supplies of satellite such as Yahoo and Microsoft are always accessible.

This censorship is likely to become quickly untenable view the popularity of the two sites in question, the number constantly growing sites and software that make reference or use them, sites very often to professional. The Morocco intends to develop tourism as a strategic activity for the country, and many tourist sites use the blocked sites. The country also embarked on an ambitious policy for the advancement of the it offshoring and a call center and this attitude is likely to tarnish the image of the country as a reliable technological Hub transparent and consistent in its decisions.
May 25, 2007, the historic operator Morocco Telecom (inmate to 51% by Vivendi Universal) has blocked access to YouTube. No reason for this block was given but some and the Moroccan blogosphere (also called Blogoma), is regarded as the founding event for the fight against Internet censorship in the Morocco.
Fez / Morocco Board News--  Since my arrival in Fes I've imagined what it would be like to enter al-Qarawiyine university. Al-Qarawiyine is why Fes is called medinat l-'ilm: 'the city of knowledge'.  Constructed 1200 years ago, it was, for centuries, a great center of learning for scholars, mainly Muslim but also Jewish, from Islamic Spain, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its prominence has declined in the past 100 years, but it is still home to a vibrant community of Islamic scholars. Al-Qarawiyine has an imposing presence in the Old Fes. Physically it is huge. It is one of the city's largest landmarks, something you notice most when forced to navigate around its perimeter, dodging donkeys and hustlers along the way. Culturally, you notice its impact in how Fessis speak. Unlike most Moroccans, native Fessis, and especially those who live in the old Medina, converse readily in Classical Arabic, the language of Islam. Their speech emphasizes the already prominent sense of religiosity that permeates the medina's alleyways. All of this emanates from Al-Qarawiyine and its centuries of religious tradition.

As a student of Islam, I couldn't help but be drawn to such a place. The image of me sitting at the foot of some great Islamic scholar, in a halqa or study circle, frequently entered my mind this year. The experience of a traditional Islamic education appealed to me, knowing that it was something I couldn't get in America. Additionally, it would give me a new and very rich understanding of Islam, the study of which I hope to make a lifelong pursuit. So I ask a friend of mine with experience studying at al-Qarawiyine to explain exactly what a traditional Islamic education would entail.

Niaz, now living in Turkey, was an English teacher at the American center in Fes and had lived in the Old Medina for a little over 5 years. Along with teaching English, Niaz pursued studies in the classical Islamic tradition with Sheikhs in and around Fes.

One day I met with him to talk about his studies. He explained to my that in Morocco, Islamic scholars follow a particular curriculum that starts with Arabic language study and moves along to different areas of specialization, just as religious law or speculative theology. As he said, "the first step is Arabic, which is the miftah u'lum ad-din, or the key to the religious sciences. Without Arabic you have nothing."

Working within the Islamic tradition requires absolute mastery of Arabic. As a religious scholar you interpret the Qu'ran, Islam's holy text, which is written in Arabic and believed to be the word of God. In order to understand this word to the extent they are able, scholars first study books on grammar, syntax, rhetoric and logic.

Mastery of these subjects prepare yourself to understand all of the more specialized subjects. Quranic commentary and Islamic law are based on linguistics and logic. Without a solid foundation in Arabic, you can't engage with the Islamic intellectual tradition. How do you ensure mastery? Memorization.

"Your time with the sheikh is spent listening to him explain the parts the text you're working on," Niaz explained, "and then you go home and memorize it. Once you memorize a complete text you move on to its commentary, and you follow that progression: learning, understanding and then memorizing."

Memorization is looked down upon in America's education system. We try to create 'independent thinkers' and 'critical thinkers' and the we perceive 'rote memorization' as impeding these goals. If you memorize, you're not thinking and you end up merely reproducing the information you've learned rather than synthesizing it into new, fresh ideas. I witnessed this firsthand in my classroom this year. My students could repeat the previous week's lecture word for word. But when asked a critical thinking question or given a task that required them to synthesize information, they struggled immensely. The Islamic ideal falls somewhere in between.

Notice how Niaz described the learning process: "learning, understanding and then memorizing." An Islamic scholar is not expect to merely reproduce what he's learned, he's expected to apply that knowledge to new and unique intellectual situations. Memorization only comes after you understand what you're learning and how to use it. That information is then internalized so that it can be more quickly synthesized with other information, external or internal, to respond to a given intellectual situation.  The Islamic scholar has the potential to be a synthesizer and critical thinker because of, not despite, his reliance on memorized information.

There's something romantic about becoming this kind of intellectual: an unmediated world of information available to you at all times. No dependence on books or computers; information and ideas fused to your very being.

Technology has made an indelible impression on our relationship with information. Are the changes it has wrought necessarily good? Am I the only person who feels ashamed by my dependence on a calculator or on Google to give me the text of the Gettysburg Address? Can I truly participate in an intellectual culture if I have to look up its fundamental and most influential ideas online or in a reference book? Does that make me an independent thinker?

Needless to say, Niaz had me hooked.

Muslims believe that certain people have the gift of light from God, a certain special charisma that not only enraptures ordinary people but also guides them towards or along the straight path. Of everyone I know, Niaz has that light. It was he who helped a friend of mine convert to Islam, and it was he who helped me decide to stay in Morocc to pursue a traditional Islamic education.
Meknes / Morocco Board News--  Perhaps the greatest symbol of Morocco's traditions is the souk, or market. Whether you're in Rabat's medina, steps away from the tramway, or deep in the heart of Old Fes, shopping in the souk transports you back in time, far away from modernity. For tourists, a visit to the souk is, at the least, a unique and unforgettable experience. The sights, smells and sounds are dazzling and mesmerizing. And for some, these have a deeper meaning.
To the legions of Western eco-tourists who descend on Morocco every year, the souk symbolizes a way of life distant from the ills of the modern food economy. If the supermarket, with its packaged goods and processed foods symbolizes the evils of the 'food-industrial complex', the souk epitomizes 'organic': produce is piled in haphazard pyramids, as if thrown there by the farmhands who picked it. Many fruits and vegetables are speckled with clods of dirt, too 'organic' to be cleaned before sale. However, these appearances are deceiving. Despite the quaintness and charm of the souk, Morocco is far from an 'eco-gastronomy' paradise.

In his paper presented at the 2009 International Symposium on Sustainable Agricultural in Mediterranean Region, S. B. Alaoui wrote that Morocco has done little to take advantage of the country's organic farming potential. Morocco's climate is ideal for organic agriculture; its long growing season can support almost any type of crop, provided there is sufficient water. Moroccan farmers already use few chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. And manual labor is very cheap. Yet, organic farming has grown feebly and sporadically.

According to the most recent data from the World Resources Institute, the area of Morocco's cropland totals around 9,445,000 hectares, slightly less than that of California. In 2006, only 5,955 hectares were devoted to certified organic farming. More than half of these are devoted to Argan oil production which, unlike other agriculture, occurs spontaneously. Compare this with California which devoted nearly 175,000 hectares of cropland to organic farming in 2007

What has prevented Morocco from taking advantage of this potential economic growth?

Alaoui writes that organic farming not high on the government's economic agenda. Though agricultural development is a national priority, such efforts focus on increasing crop yields and water conservation. The former can encourage decidedly un-organic practices, like increased fertilizer use, and while expanding organic farming could reduce overall water consumption, there are other less resource and labor intense ways of doing so.

Additionally, Morocco has neither national standards for organic farming nor any means to certify its organic farms. Setting up a national certification system would take time and money. Guaranteeing its veracity would require significant oversight. Yet these costs are necessary if Morocco hopes to profit from its organic potential. It is the lack of such a certification system that makes it impossible for Morocco's already fledgling organic farms to export their produce to Europe.

Simply put, the Moroccan government and Moroccan farmers don't care about organic farming, and it's easy to understand why. Unlike many Western countries, Morocco is still trying to modernize its agricultural sector. The focus is on increasing efficiency, crop yield and, subsequently, profits.

While some Westerners decry the industrial food economy, Moroccans dismay not having such an infrastructure. Western tourists may view Morocco as untouched by many of the problems of a modern economy, but many Moroccans see this as a lack of economic development preventing their nation from reaching its potential.

Turning Morocco into an organic farming power may appeal to certain groups with certain ideologies. But ultimately, Morocco will pursue the actions that best serve its national interest.

- Data on organic farming in Morocco come from Mr. Alaoui's paper: "Organic Farming in the World and a case study of Morocco"
-Data on organic farming in California comes from the USDA
-General data on Morocco's Agriculture from the World Resource Institute
San Francisco / Morocco Board News--  Has the Keynesian economic theory, the foundation of capitalism failed? If it has, what are the causes of its failure? Is it its limitations to evolve with the way capitalism has evolved?  Is it its inability to reject the manipulations by its benefactors? Is it ineffective in protecting its basic foundation against limitless human greed? Or have the regulators thrown in the towel and made the regulations to protect the economic and financial systems irrelevant, leading to the “dog eat dog” mentality plaguing the US and the World economy?  It seems that it is all of the above. Keynes must be sadly watching his theory undergoing its last breath with no oxygen in sight.
In the United States of America where the application of the Keynesian theory has been championed, the conservatives are undermining the Presidency and are accusing the President of destroying the economy and capitalism by being a “socialist”.  The head of the US Federal Reserve Board has been called a “traitor” by a Republican presidential candidate. Compromise, the basis for democratic success, has become a taboo word.   Politicians in the US house of Representative and the US Senate comprising less than 150 Americans in a country of 360 million people and a world of almost 7 billion inhabitants are sticking to their voodoo economic position of cuts in the budget spending and no taxes to generate revenues to grow the economy of the United States of America and consequently that of the World. The US and the World economic and financial development have been hijacked by a small group of law makers who are uncompromising, pledging allegiance to an individual rather than to the constitution and use religious superiority as a cover up. Meanwhile, President Obama is continuing his efforts to achieve a balanced approach of cuts and revenues through his call for “shared sacrifice.”
 The polls show that the majority of the American people want jobs and no cuts.  The same polls show that the Congress now has only 18% approval and the President of the United States has less than 40% approval. The Congressional Black Caucus is reviewing its support of President Obama and wants him to get “tough”.  The “super congressional committee” is a Russian roulette process wherein the failure to agree on cuts and revenues will trigger automatic draconian cuts. The elderly are worried and afraid of losing their social security checks and medical care coverage. The stock market is unable to stop the roller coaster ride it has been on since the USA was downgraded by Standard and Poor.
 Both Republicans and Democrats claim they want to create jobs, yet there is no plan to act on. The Republican candidates are tearing down the President as they please.  The President still thinks that he can persuade the American people to see things his way. The liberals are mad at the President and want him to stop being “a nice guy” and show their deepest dislike for the Tea Party folks. Republican gerrymandering through redistricting is guarantying Republican majorities in the targeted districts of the Tea Party folks.
The newly elected Republican Governors are adamant about destroying collective bargaining and pushing the Labor Unions to the breaking point. The Unions are embarking on recalling some of the states’ legislators and governors to prevent the dissolution of the gains made by Labor since the New Deal. Unemployment is at a record high.  Access to higher education is getting more expensive and difficult. Graduates have no jobs waiting for them. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are still active.  The poor represent 40 million human beings in America of which 14 millions are children
Worldwide, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Middle Easterners are worried about the US dollars and US bonds and shares of the stock market they hold. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is yelling out loud “Austerity” and the World Bank needs restructuring. The bloody uprisings in Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are destructive. Everyone is looking at Egypt and Tunisia for the outcome of their “Arab Spring”. Is it going to be civilian or military rule? What happened to the revival of negotiations for “peace” between Israel and the Palestinians?  Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy are on the verge of bankruptcy and almost broke. Their saviors Finland, Holland, Slovenia and Slovakia want cash collateral to come to the rescue.
Sadly to see that London, Liverpool and Manchester where it all began 300 years ago are burning. It is inhuman to see that the World is watching the poor being ignored and millions of African children dying of hunger and cholera abandoned to their fate.
The millionaires are no longer satisfied to be millionaires; they want to be billionaires by any means.
How can these enormous problems be resolved?
The problem is multi-facetted and will not be solved by the usual approaches: cutting governmental spending alone is not a solution nor is an inadequate increase in taxation. Finding a compromise to combine both has been opposed by the legislative allies of the rich and the powerful because they, and their rich and powerful benefactors, feel that a large segment of the poor has been taking advantage of the system, getting a free ride on welfare and paying no taxes and being irresponsible. They see the middle class as making enough gains even though low and moderate incomes have remained stagnant for decades as the income of the wealthy increased exponentially. Given the circumstances, one would understand why the housing market has collapsed and perhaps purposefully. When realtors were enticing low and moderate income people -first time buyers- to buy homes through shady lending formulas of low or no down payment with mortgages beyond their income level, in other words realtors were cheating and making false declarations, one would think that something is wrong.  Something is wrong when some in the housing industry were able to find ways to avoid regulation and bundle questionable mortgage loans as investment securities that were graded AAA by rating agencies in cahoots with the issuers who then sold these securities to overseas investors who relied on the ratings.  The giants of the financial market created and hoped to benefit from these schemes.  When the house of cards collapsed, they forced taxpayers to bear the losses, crying crocodile tears about being in danger of bankruptcy in order to extract bail outs and stimuli from the Federal Government.  The first thing they did upon receiving tax payers’ funds to save them was to increase their managers’ income and lavish perks.  Something is wrong. Ibnou Khaldoun, the father of economics, Adam Smith, Keynes, Friedman and Samuelson would not have planned it this way.
Naturally, the apologists will argue that times have changed.  The Soviet Union is dead and the communists are becoming capitalists and that America is the country of freedom and opportunity and everyone has to mend for themselves while each is for his own.
Will President Obama call for “shared sacrifice” be heard and adhered to? We will know in September when politics and what is good for the country will collide again in Washington D.C.      
Casablanca / Morocco Board News--The idea of holding a debate ( organized by Cap Démocratie Maroc (Capdema) society, a debate in the lines of the theme “Reformism or Breakthrough change?“)  originated from a previous epistolary discussion between Capdema President, Younes Benmoumen, and a young Annahj top activist, Abdellatif Zeroual -a member of a panel held during Capdema’s Summer University.
As always with that kind of debated abstract concepts, the conclusion -if there was to be any- would be ambivalent: in essence, the real question looming ahead was: do we need reforms in Morocco, or is it radical change we are seeking? The various remarks and mano-a-mano discussions do suggest that it is, above all, a matter of perception. And perception, indeed, already framed the terms of the debate.
Now that the backdrops of the debate has been delineated, let us go back to the terms themselves. It was framed, not out of malice, but because of, essentially, the prevailing sentiment things are going too slow. But then again, that is the polymorphous feature of Feb20 movement: there are too many, if not contradictory tendencies within, and from what I have heard on behalf of prominent Feb20 activists (Omar Radi, for one) the immediate agenda for the movement is to accommodate these groups and make them work with each others. Not very ambitious, and at the same time a necessary preliminary step not to be taken lightl
I was actually disappointed by Radi’s analysis of what’s reformism, and what is not. The youthful demeanour of many Feb20 belies some old-fashioned approach to political analysis: an analogy with Russia circa 1905, or the split in the Russian Social-Democratic Party earlier (1902) was, in my opinion a bit over the top and far-fetched, while it betrayed a very anachronistic way of thinking. I can understand the common features between the timid reforms we have had and the Czar‘s decision to re-establish a Duma a century ago, but that’s about it. Plus that analysis suffers from what Karl Popper referred to as “The Poverty of Historicism“: Human history is a succession of single event. Popper’s criticism does not contradict the existence of a historical trend, though, nor does it conflict with the possibility of iterative events.
I believe this is to be the focal point of the bias: because there is a systematic definition with respect to historical events in other countries, we end up forgetting that Morocco has a much lower threshold for these grievances (political or others) and so, any demands climbing above the mainstream/average set of demands will be construed as radical and subversive. And the peculiar thing is to find Annahj activists labelling their PSU and PADS comrades as “soft on change”, even though they are, to many other fellow Moroccans, the spearhead of radicalism. It does not matter to be overtly republican, or to support parliamentary monarchy, both numbers are rabid radicals.
The other misconception around the described duality evolves within the rapport a young activist might have with history. There is need to thread carefully in these territories, but then again, when there is a lack of historical knowledge, inexperienced activists (and would-be politicians) tend to consider themselves asWhite Knights and the founder of true activism.
That claim to be the one and only renewing power in the field has been overused: Istiqlalpushed for a one party- one monarch state; Allal El Fassi famously said: “God has united this great nation under one King, Mohamed V, and one party, Istiqlal”. In its first convention, UNFP defined itself as a lot more than a mere partisan organization engaging in petty party political. It defined itself as a movement, instead. Same rethoric can be found in 1970s radical left, the moderate (PJD) and radical(Al Adl) islamists. The rhetoric of breakthrough thinking and brand-new renewal has been overused, indeed, even by the Makhzen regime too: haven’t we celebrated, just a couple of days ago, the “Revolution of King and People”? scores of progressive discourse have been plagiarized by PR officials. A 4-centuries-old monarchy manages to capture that discourse to its own use, and successfully manages to convince many citizens that it is standing at the vanguard of change.
And so, the rhetoric is not the problem. The content, however, is critical to that idea of reform/radical change. Some interesting ideas have been tossed around: Agrarian reform, regulations over mineral resources, taxation, etc… but that was considered to be “basic reforms”, i.e. that’s how radical change starts. Well, to many, many people out there, it is the thin end of the wedge, not because it is too radical, but because of that lower threshold of attitude toward reform.
I did not attend the full debate, although I left at the point when a bearded gentlemen tried a nasty Ad Hominem attack, implying chain-smokers (and there were many of those around) cannot look after commonwealth, whereas they are destroying their own health. I guess some doggy-dog politics won’t die away…
My assessment is very optimistic: save for some rusty ideological background, practicality prevails, and while the rhetoric still needs to be renewed and beefed-up, the idea of change is there. The kind of political regime ranks way behind the real needs of Moroccan households and their future.
In spite of regional unrest – Morocco making progress
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 01:02
Global Arab Network - In spite of regional unrest and rising commodity prices that have led to an increase in the trade deficit for the year-to-date, the prospects for the Moroccan economy in 2011 are encouraging thanks to a variety of factors, including a strong harvest and broader diversification. Figures for 2010 and the first five months of 2011 also show that inflation remains very low, Global Arab Network reports according to Oxford Business Group.

The Moroccan High Planning Commission (Haut Commissariat du Plan – HCP) announced in early June that GDP grew by 3.7% in real terms in 2010, marking the 13th consecutive year of growth. The final result was 0.5 percentage points higher than the estimate the HCP had given in March and that the IMF published in its April World Economic Outlook (WEO). While agricultural GDP fell slightly, non-agricultural growth stood at 4.5%, illustrating Morocco’s increasing diversification away from the once-dominant farming sector. A 4.7% increase in the value of exported goods and services also helped underpin the expansion. The result brings mean annual growth for the past five years to 4.9%, compared to 2.9% for the previous five-year period and -0.4% in the half-decade before that, underlining the extent to which the economy has been transformed over the past 15 years.

According to the IMF’s WEO figures released in April, Morocco is set for another year of healthy expansion in 2011, with GDP expected to rise to around 3.9% in 2011. The government is more optimistic still, with the Finance Ministry forecasting 5% growth. An anticipated strong harvest, thanks to good weather early in the year, should support a high rate of growth, given the continued importance of agriculture. The government’s assessment assumed a cereals harvest of 7m tonnes but the central bank, Bank Al Maghrib, forecast in June that it would reach 7.8m tonnes.

The tourism industry also helps underwrite the expansion. Although the number of nights has dropped in most major destinations, and Ramadan has furthered dampened vacancy rates, the sector’s receipts were up 8% year-on-year for the first five months of 2011. Economic recovery in Europe also helped push remittances up by 6.8% in the year to May.

Inflation remains firmly under control, standing at just under 1% in 2010 according to IMF estimates, a figure that was largely unchanged from 2009. The consumption price index in May was unchanged from the same point in the previous year, with a 0.8% fall in the price of food having effectively cancelled out a 0.8% rise in non-food prices. However, the underlying inflation rate – which does not include the prices of goods that are regarded as volatile or those with prices set by the state – stood at 1.4% in May. While the WEO figures forecast inflation to reach 2.9% for 2011 as a whole, in June Bank Al Maghrib lowered its inflation prediction for 2011 from 2.1% to 1.4%, thanks in large part to a drop in food prices. It therefore opted to leave the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.25%.

According to the HCP, the official unemployment rate fell in the first quarter of 2011 to 9.1%, down from 10% in the same quarter of 2010 and 9.2% in the fourth quarter of 2010. Urban unemployment was down 0.4 percentage points from its level in the final quarter of 2010 to 13.3%, while the rural joblessness rate rose by 0.1 percentage points, to 4.3%.

Similarly, official figures for urban unemployment for people between the ages of 15 and 24 was down 2.3 percentage points on the previous quarter, an encouraging trend given that urban youth joblessness has been one of the most stubborn categories of unemployment. While the unemployment rate has fluctuated slightly in recent years, with unofficial estimates often suggesting higher levels of unemployment, over the longer term increased growth has successfully helped to bring joblessness down from 14-15% in the late 1990s.

While performance across a range of indicators remains strong, the economy nevertheless faces some challenges in 2011. High oil and wheat prices helped push the trade deficit for the year to May up 25% on the same period in 2010, to Dh76.6bn (€6.65bn). While a 50% increase in the value of phosphate and phosphate product sales abroad helped drive a 22% increase in exports on the first five months of 2010, to Dh69.9bn (€6.07bn), they were outpaced by a 23.7% rise in the value of imports.

Imports of oil by volume fell by just under 5% on the first five months in 2010 but nevertheless increased the import bill, due to a 31% rise in the average price of oil during the period. Wheat imports rose in volume – by 43% year-on-year – and in cost, with international prices having increased by 66%.

Despite some of its economic gains being eroded by expanding costs of imports, rising GDP and falling unemployment should see the growth trajectory continue its upward swing.
Morocco: Controversy over religious freedom
Despite its new constitution and other reforms, Morocco is not a secular state.
Aida AlamiAugust 20, 2011
CASABLANCA, Morocco — The slogan displayed on the profile pictures of hundreds of Moroccan Facebook users was stark: “In Morocco, Eating Kills.”
The message referred to the incident two years ago when six Moroccans were arrested for having a picnic during Ramadan in protest of a law banning eating in public during Ramadan. 
Two years and a new constitution later, Morocco still doesn't have provisions guaranteeing more religious freedom for its citizens.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the debate over the introduction of more secularism is again in the spotlight because of Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code: It mandates a one to six month prison term for anyone "well known for their affiliation to Islam" who breaks the fast in public.
As a result, Moroccans who are non-practicing Muslims are obligated to respect the fast in public, while others escape abroad to avoid the restrictions.
Non-Muslims eat lunch on the terrace of a McDonald's in Rabat, Morocco, in front of a sign which reminds customers that Muslim adults are forbidden from being served at the restaurant during the day during the month of Ramadan. The sign says only children and non-Muslims will be served. In practice it means that Western foreigners will be served. Some Moroccans are campaigning for the right to eat in public during Ramadan and other secular freedoms. (Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images)
“During Ramadan, Islam is forced upon people regardless of their beliefs.” ~Habib, a Moroccan engineer
"I am fortunate to live abroad because during Ramadan, Islam is forced upon people regardless of their beliefs,” said Habib, a 27-year-old engineer who lives in Paris. “To most Moroccans, being Muslim is not a personal choice of faith but the identity of an entire community that one is obligated to be a part of.”
MALI ( the acronym in French for Alternative Movement for Individual Liberty), the group that held the protest picnic, was formed in 2009. It campaigns for more individual freedoms. Its members have been arrested and intimidated by authorities and members of the general public since launching their first action, the picnic.
“It was not Ramadan that was 'targeted' but instead, we demanded freedom of religion and conscience, the freedom to believe or not, to practice or not, to be a Muslim or not," said Ibtissame Lachgar, 36, the co-founder of MALI and a political activist. “It is a spiritual choice that is personal and individual. We wanted a symbolic action that can really point the finger at the contradictions between the law and international treaties ratified by Morocco.”
Morocco's current political system is not compatible with the establishment of a secular state following the Turkish model, said Pierre-Jean Luizard, a historian and researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in France.
How about a story on the world's biggest soveriegn defaults. What can we learn from them to put the current turmoil in perspective?
Last week's winner looks to history for lessons on Europe's debt crisis. Check the membership site in mid-September for a link to completed piece.
“Morocco is a special case since the king is also the Commander of the Faithful," he said. "The Moroccan political system is based on the religious legitimacy of the sovereign, which gives secular claims a revolutionary character, and which is not the case in other Arab states. However, this does not mean that secularism is an absent claim as a value, with its corollaries: equality of citizens, freedom of conscience and religion and women's rights.”
One element that Morocco shares with other Muslim countries is that Islam, having been the main framework of anti-colonial struggles, became the language of the society, said Luizard. “What can be perceived as the conservatism of an entire society is also a reaction against the West and against overbearing authoritarian and corrupt regimes — like Morocco — supported by the West itself,” he said.
Abdelillah Benkirane, the leader of the main opposition party, The Islamist Justice and Development Party, condemned demands for a more secular state during a meeting in June, a few days before Morocco’s ruler, King Mohammed VI, introduced the new constitution to the people.
“They want to pervert the faith of this nation and Ramadan to no longer be sacred," he said. "They want to picnic during the holy month and set an example for young people, for your children. It seems that future reforms will restore 'sexual deviance' [homosexuality] — we may see people who say publicly that they are 'sexual deviants'."
Benkirane warned his audience that establishing more religious freedom in a new constitution would threaten the country’s foundations. "If the king adopts it, we will have a serious problem," he said. "Morocco is a Muslim state, and the country’s religion is Islam.”
But an ideological commitment to secularism on the part of the state is not necessarily a prerequisite for democratization, according to Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, a professor at Northwestern University specializing in religion and politics. 
“There are many, many modalities for managing and negotiating across lines of religious difference, both historically and today, that do not fly under the flag of the doctrine of secularism,” she said. “Advocates of democratic change, wherever they find themselves, would do better to work for a deep pluralism that engages both 'religious' and 'secular' views conventionally understood rather than boxing themselves in with a commitment to secularism.”
Other Moroccans, like Sara, a 19-year-old student from Marrakesh don’t feel too concerned about the lack of religious freedom. “Except the other day when I tried to eat at Mcdonald’s in Marrakesh: I was asked to leave or they would call the police,” she recalled. “They told me they couldn’t let me eat there unless I proved I wasn’t Muslim. I asked myself right away, how do you prove such thing?”
KEFI Minerals: Due diligence in Morocco could lead to re-rating - Fox-Davies.
Tue 3:03 pm by Giles Gwinnett
KEFI Minerals' (LON:KEFI) due diligence work on the Tiouit gold-copper mine and tailings project in Morocco could lead to a re-rating for the shares, according to Fox-Davies Capital, which currently has a ‘hold’ recommendation for the stock.

The broker says it will be looking for results of the due diligence as soon as possible as a possible-trigger for the re-rating.

In a note today, the broker highlighted that last week’s deal to sell the Artvin project signalled KEFI’s intent to withdraw from Turkey and focus on North Africa.

And last month, KEFI entered an exclusivity agreement over Tiouit as a pre-cursor to acquiring the Moroccan project.

Fox Davies analyst Peter Rose describes the Tiouit agreement  as "interesting", adding: "Although the potential resource is small (we estimate, based on the RNS, that there is approximately 50,000 oz of gold and another 8000 oz of gold equivalent silver), it has the potential to generate cash in the short term which can be used for exploration of its other assets."

The analyst added: "Tailings re-processing projects such as these can be very profitable because operating costs in such projects are generally low due to the mining and crushing already having been done. Also, grades are often higher than historical records indicate."

KEFI paid Moroccan company Roche Invest SARL US$250,000 for five months of exclusivity over Tiouit and an associated tailings retreatment project.

During the period, KEFI will conduct a definitive feasibility study to evaluate the retreatment of gold and silver and initiate a pre-feasibility study on restarting underground mining operations.

Depending on the outcome of the studies, KEFI will decide whether to enter a joint venture agreement with Roche over either or both projects.

Rose said: "We retain our "hold" recommendation on the company but will be looking to the results of the due diligence as a possible trigger for re-rating the stock."
Slime travel in Morocco.
Article By: Charlotte Cans & Henri Mamarbachi
Thu, 25 Aug 2011
Standing on the side of a road in a hectic north African capital may not be what most people would consider the ideal place to eat boiled snails.
Diners inclined to try 'escargots' may think of it as a dish best prepared by an expert chef and reserved for special occasions, like a visit to a French restaurant.
But in Morocco, snails are street food and have been for decades.
"We sell snails all year. There is always demand, everywhere in Morocco. I've been doing this work for 25 years," said Abderrahim, a snail-seller drowsily working under the sun near the central plaza in Rabat, the Moroccan capital.
In Rabat, on the country's west coast, escargots - called boubouch or b'bouch - are served at roadside stalls and in the souks, the traditional open-air markets.
The snails on offer are low in fat and high in protein and magnesium, similar to those found in Spain or in the south of France, but the preparation - and presentation - is not what you'd find at a French bistro where a garlic butter sauce is the norm.
In Morocco, snails are simmered in a broth seasoned with aniseed, licorice root, thyme, sweet and spicy pepper, mint, bitter orange peel, and crushed gum arabic, an ingredient taken from acacia trees.
When the stewed molluscs are ready, they're scooped out of the pot by the roadside vendor with a large wooden ladle.
Tourists walking by regularly take note of the dish but rarely sample the contents, vendors said.
"Everyone is eating them"
But one Moroccan entrepreneur recently launched an upscale version of the cherished snack for those queasy about buying escargots from roadside vendors, where they may feel cleanliness is an issue.
Mohamed Alaoui Abdallaoui's specially designed truck tours Rabat's trendier neighbourhoods and delivers the spicy simmered snails to clients right at their front door.
"I hope that other (competitors) will follow, so that we can offer Moroccan clientele a range of choices that are safe, clean and high-quality," Abdallaoui explained, speaking French, the language of the country's former colonial power.
Though long a domestic delicacy, most Moroccan snails - which are handpicked mainly by women and children - are exported, notably to Spain. In fact, the government's social development agency, ADS, said between 80 to 85 percent of some 10 000 tonnes of snails harvested each year are shipped abroad.
The ADS has tried to promote increased food production as one its projects designed to help the millions of Moroccans mired in poverty, like many of the women and children who collect the snails.
Abdallaoui's customers, at any rate, are thrilled.
"We got used to eating these with our parents when we were small," said Youssef, a regular client of the mobile escargot truck. "But this is clean, it's well organised, and there is no need to worry about the hygiene."
Sihan is another client now hooked on snail home delivery.
"It's the real, traditional snail we used to have at home. It's delicious, we love it. Look, everyone is eating them," he said.
In Morocco, snail delivery slowly catching on
August 24, 2011
RABAT, Morocco - Standing on the side of a road in a hectic north African capital may not be what most people would consider the ideal place to eat boiled snails.

Diners inclined to try escargots may think of it as a dish best prepared by an expert chef and reserved for special occasions, like a visit to a French restaurant.

But in Morocco, snails are street food and have been for decades.

“We sell snails all year. There is always demand, everywhere in Morocco. I’ve been doing this work for 25 years,” said Abderrahim, a snail-seller drowsily working under the sun near the central plaza in Rabat, the Moroccan capital.
In Rabat, on the country’s west coast, escargots - called boubouch or b’bouch - are served at roadside stalls and in the souks, the traditional open-air markets.

The snails on offer are low in fat and high in protein and magnesium, similar to those found in Spain or in the south of France, but the preparation - and presentation - is not what you’d find at a French bistro where a garlic butter sauce is the norm.

In Morocco, snails are simmered in a broth seasoned with aniseed, licorice root, thyme, sweet and spicy pepper, mint, bitter orange peel, and crushed gum arabic, an ingredient taken from acacia trees.

When the stewed molluscs are ready, they’re scooped out of the pot by the roadside vendor with a large wooden ladle. Tourists walking by regularly take note of the dish but rarely sample the contents, vendors said.

But one Moroccan entrepreneur recently launched an upscale version of the cherished snack for those queasy about buying escargots from roadside vendors, where they may feel cleanliness is an issue.

Mohamed Alaoui Abdallaoui’s specially designed truck tours Rabat’s trendier neighborhoods and delivers the spicy simmered snails to clients right at their front door.

“I hope that other [competitors] will follow, so that we can offer Moroccan clientele a range of choices that are safe, clean and high quality,” Abdallaoui explained, speaking French, the language of the country’s former colonial power.

Though long a domestic delicacy, most Moroccan snails - which are handpicked mainly by women and children - are exported, notably to Spain. In fact, the government’s social development agency, ADS, said between 80 to 85 percent of some 10,000 tons of snails harvested each year are shipped abroad.

ADS has tried to promote increased food production as one its projects designed to help the millions of Moroccans mired in poverty, like many of the women and children who collect the snails. Abdallaoui’s customers, at any rate, are thrilled.

“We got used to eating these with our parents when we were small,” said Youssef, a regular client of the mobile escargot truck. “But this is clean, it’s well organized, and there is no need to worry about the hygiene.”

Sihan is another client now hooked on snail home delivery.

“It’s the real, traditional snail we used to have at home. It’s delicious, we love it. Look, everyone is eating them,” he said.
Nights in Morocco
Published on August 24, 2011
Villa Maroc Resort has announces an extension of its special "Weekdays Rate" until end of September.
Nights in Morocco
Villa Maroc Resort has announces an extension of its special "Weekdays Rate" until end of September. Avoid the weekend crowds and let the breathtaking views and enchanting decor of Villa Maroc Resort help you and your loved ones create Moroccan experiences on a memorable weekday holiday. Rate is Bt6,500 per night for a Pool Court room, Bt14,500 per night for a Pool Villa or the exotic One Bedroom Villa and Bt17,500 per night for the ultimate Two-Bedroom Villa. Rates are inclusive of breakfast and Wi-Fi Internet. Book online at or call (032) 630 771.
Romantic retreat
Spice up your love life at Aleenta Resort & Spa Pranburi with a two-night Honeymoon Package includes daily gourmet breakfast for two, an exquisite beachfront candlelit dinner with one bottle of champagne, plus one hour aromatherapy massage for two. A day trip shuttle to Hua Hin town is also offered as a complimentary service. Room rates start at Bt15,900 for a Beach House Suite to Bt19,700 for a Penthouse. The deal is good from now until October 31.
Par for the course
Unwind in the comforting surroundings of V Villas Hua Hin and polish your golfing skills at Banyan Golf Club. The Ultimate Golfing Experience Package starts at Bt22,000 per night and covers accommodation in one-bedroom Pool Villa Suite, daily breakfast, travel between resort and the golf course, plus one round of golf for two persons including green fees and golf cart and selected discounts. The deal is good until October 31, 2011. Call (02) 309 3939 or
Chiang Mai's hidden gems
Rati-Lanna Riverside Spa Resort Chiang Mai invites you to explore the ancient city of Chiang Mai with "The Hidden Gem" package. Your journey to Wiang Kum Kam begins on a traditional scorpion boat leaving from Rati-Waree pier and is followed by a horse carriage tour around the ancient town complete with tour guide service. The package is Bt750 per person and is available for two to 10 persons per trip. The offer runs until September 30. Call (053) 999 333 extension 5410.
Conference calls
X2 Samui Villas, where X2 pronounced is "Cross-To", is part of the Centara Boutique Collection - a group of small but very personalised and individual properties. The hotel is currently offering a "Boutique Meetings in Style" package at Bt950 per person for a half day meeting and Bt1,100 per person for full day meeting. The half-day package includes a light lunch and one coffee break while the full day package covers lunch and two coffee breaks. Call Isree at (02) 769 1234 extension 6564 or e-mail
Chiang Rai in black and white
Le Meridien Chiang Rai is now offering an "Art Discovery" package that includes one night's accommodation in Deluxe room, breakfast for two and a tour with an English-speaking guide to the White Temple of well-known artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the Black House of Thawan Duchanee and Doi Din Dang Pottery Studio and the house of ceramic artist Somluk Pantiboon. Rates start from Bt5,000 per room per night until October 31. A minimum stay of two nights is required. Call (053) 603 333.
In Malden, savory flavors from Morocco
CHEAP EATS  August 24, 2011|By Sheryl Julian, Globe Staff
188 Salem St., Malden, 781-605-0520. All major cards. Restrooms not wheelchair accessible.
Prices Soups, salads, sandwiches $2.50-$6.99. Entrees $8.99-$11.99. Desserts charged by the pound.
Hours Mon-Sat 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Liquor None.
May we suggest Harira (soup), roasted peppers, roast chicken, lamb with prunes, lamb couscous (Fridays only).
We’re in a big rush. It’s a Friday night during Ramadan - couscous night - and the crowds will descend on Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant for Iftar, the meal to break the sunup-to-sundown fast. We’re looking for couscous, of course, and also for harira, the multi-grained saffron-based soup that’s so nourishing you could live on it.
Alas, hardly any customers are in the little storefront. Only one man with a handlebar mustache is sitting near the window. He is obviously enjoying the soup (if it’s possible to smile while you slurp hot liquid, that’s what he’s doing). Beside it, a tagine, tucked under the traditional conical top, is hiding something aromatic.
When our own soup arrives, we’re too busy smiling and slurping to see what our neighbor is dining on. This harira ($2.50) is simmered with bits of lamb, lentils, chickpeas, rice, ginger, fresh cilantro, and saffron. As more customers come in, many for takeout, we watch co-owner Nouzha Ghalley ladle out many bowls. She makes the meat version only during Ramadan, she tells me later on the phone, and a vegetarian version the rest of the year.
Ghalley owns the restaurant with her sister, Amina Ghalley McTursh. The sisters ran a small restaurant in Rabat, Morocco. Their mother, Fatima El Haddad, 75, is also cooking here, along with some other women.
This is labor intensive cooking. One night, we ask for something besides fries with a sandwich and Ghalley sends out beautiful, velvety, roasted bell peppers bathed in olive oil. She roasts them on a flame, just several at a time.
And the couscous ($11.99), which comes in a tagine: The grains are feathery, each one tender, but separate, deliciously moist, but not saucy. Lamb, rutabaga, potatoes, carrots, and chickpeas sit on top. We did not eat better couscous in Morocco.
Chicken is roasted with preserved lemons ($11.99), and the lemons mixed with onions, saffron, and turmeric forms a crust on the skin. The stunning dish arrives with handfuls of very crisp, slender fries on top. A melting lamb shank with prunes ($11.99) is cooked in a deliciously nutty sauce, which comes studded with almonds.
Pastilla ($11.99), a big, incredibly flaky little pie sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, is filled with chicken and almonds.
Dinner comes with two homemade breads, one golden slices from a semolina loaf, the other heartier slices of a whole-wheat loaf (whole loaves to go are $1.50 each).
Moroccans assailed by contradictory fatwas.
2011-08-24 By Siham Ali for Magharebia
Many people are denouncing a recent spate of fatwas issued by untrained authorities.
Moroccans are turning to multiple sources for religious advice, even though the High Council of Ulemas is the only officially sanctioned religious authority in the kingdom.
Under Morocco's constitution, rulings of the Ulema are to be based on Islam’s purpose, principles and tenets. There is no such directive for fatwas from satellite television and Internet sources, so Moroccan homes are being besieged by questionable positions.
The problem is that people without religious training are issuing fatwas, said Abdelbari Zemzemi, a theologian and MP.
"We cannot control people's inclinations. There are some solutions such as awareness campaigns and national television programmes to address the citizens' problems in order to keep them from falling back to satellite channels," he said.
Many of the alternate sources of fatwas are simply trying to change the status quo, according to PJD party chief Lahcen Daoudi.
"It is necessary to train an ulema that is skilled in many areas," Daoudi told Magharebia.
"We need to change the ulemas’ image by directing brilliant students to Islamic studies and creating courageous ulemas able to issue opinions independently," he added.
For political analyst Mohamed Darif, the state, "which has been committed to reforming the field of religion for years, needs to make more of an effort" to increase the credibility of the ulema.
The way to effect this is "by not prompting them to defend the state's positions".
"Independence is an important element. People are influenced by the most independent and most daring ulemas," he said
According to the Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs Ministry, the ulema councils were established to answer citizens' questions regarding Islamic precepts. The Ministry maintains that fatwas need to take into consideration the realities on the ground and keep a practical tone.
"We cannot ban out-of-the-ordinary fatwas, but we must define clear rules," suggested Hocine Mefrah, the president of Mohammedia's local ulema council.
"At the risk of being punished, an unqualified person cannot prescribe medicine," he said on Moroccan TV2."The same thing should be enforced in the field of religion. If we protect people's health and property, then we should also protect them with concern to their religion."
Citizens can contact local councils via post or telephone to ask for religious advisories or fatwas, and the ulema are responsible for answering the inquiries according to the tenets of Maliki Islam. Local councils also organise conferences for citizens to attend.
Despite these outreach measures, student Khalid Maraj said that it is often easier for people to contact the neighbourhood imam for religious opinions than go to the ulema council, which "may not respond immediately".
"Others prefer to directly contact the ulemas from the satellite channels, thinking that they are more competent than the Moroccans," Maraj said.
"This image is what needs to be changed."
Washington / Morocco Board News--    Driss Yazami, president of Morocco's National Council for Human Rights, took part in a debate organized in France called "The Arab Spring : new boost for global democracy. "
Mr. Yazami defended the reforms initiated by Morocco's King Mohammed VI, however,  Zineb El Rhazoui, an activist and founder of (MALI) stood up and spoke about her own view of things.
Zineb's message was very different from that of Mr. Driss Yazami. She spoke of prisons and torture, of her own difficulties with Moroccan authorities and of the "repression of freedom of the press".

The Moroccan reality is more nuanced than what is suggested by one or more of these interventions.  It is understandable that to act "effectively" in a legal framework, after years of clandestine activism, Mr. Idriss Yazami has to show a certain pragmatism to move things forward. The radical and rebellious attitude of Zineb and her cohorts is an expression of frustration among the youth for the slow pace of genuine change.
Queue  video to 37:00
Property in Morocco
Buying property in Morocco could mean living in an exotic city like Tangiers, Casablanca or Marrakesh. Each is a unique area in Morocco. You may prefer the small walking city of Tangiers near the sea and ocean or the larger more crowded fast-paced city of Casablanca with an Atlantic Ocean port. Marrakesh is further inland with no ocean access and it has both an old city and a new more modern city.
Tangiers is an international port city that welcomes Arabic, English, Spanish and French speakers. It has beautiful beaches and is only 20 miles from Spain across from the strait of Gibraltar. The 140 square miles of Tangiers is divided by two main roads, Mohamed V which goes from Medina to Ville Novelle and Mohamed VI which follows the beachfront from the port to Malabata. Real estate is available along the beach and further inland.
To own a two bedroom apartment with spectacular views of Hercules Beach, the new homeowner only has to pay $103,000. As an investment, this property located on Cape Spartel should be easy to rent and a great place to live, given its convenience to the beach. Tangiers is known for its beautiful beaches and scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Owning property near one of the beautiful beaches is very desirable in Tangiers.
A 4 bedroom villa with a garage, a garden and ensuite bathrooms for the three main floor bedrooms with guest quarters complete with living room, bedroom and bath on the second floor. The home features fantastic panoramic views of Tangier-Assilah and has two terraces on which to sit and enjoy the views. For $477,000 this villa could be yours.
The next location is Casablanca, Morocco’s largest industrial city with a population of over 3 million. It functions just like most modern cities with its share of urban sprawl, yet, the nearby beaches more than make up for city living. Ain Diab is on the edge of the chic suburb of Anfa and offers beach clubs and cafes along the sea front. Buy a one bedroom condo in a high rise building with 24 hour security and a 1500 square meter garden for only $170,000. A new construction two bedroom home with views of the ocean sits only minutes from the beach and can be purchased for $753,000.
The final city, Marrakesh is composed primarily of condo apartments to buy. There are some homes, quite often luxury homes with a price to match. A five bedroom country estate with six baths, fireplace, terrace, basement, wine cellar, out building, and olive grove is priced at $2.7 million.
Property in Morocco is overlooking breathtaking views and often overlooks the sea or ocean. If you love the water then Tangiers, Casablanca or Marrakesh are great cities that sit on or near the Mediterranean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Experience the cultures of these exotic cities where the world meets and history lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment