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Morocco

Economy

Ukraine War, North African Food Shortages And Whiff Of A New Arab Spring

Rising tensions in wheat productions, explosion of oil prices, fear of the unknown, could the Ukraine war lead to a popular Arab uprising similar to the one in 2011?

TUNIS — History tells us that in 2010-2011 the rise in prices for raw materials, especially wheat, was one of the main causes of the uprisings that spread across the Arab world.

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Today, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is putting many of the world's economies dependent on wheat imports to the test, notably in North Africa. This prompts the question: Could there be a second “Arab Spring?”

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How The Pandemic Spread Private Jet Travel Beyond The Super-Rich And Powerful

Once the reserve of the super-rich and famous, private jet travel has soared during the pandemic. Amid border closures and travel restrictions, private charter flights are sometimes the only option to get people — and their pets!? — home.

PARIS — Traveling by private jet has long been a mode of transportation long exclusively reserved for the super rich, extremely powerful and very famous. This article will not report that it is, er, democratizing....but still.

During the pandemic, a surprisingly wide demographic have turned to private jets not because it was a luxury they could afford, but out of desperation, trying to reach a destination in the face of border closures and widespread flight cancellations. Last year, private jet hours were close to 50% higher than in 2020, according to the Global Business Aviation Outlook. While some of the increase can be attributed to more travel in 2021 because of COVID-19 vaccination, it still amounts to 5% more hours than before the pandemic, as Deutsche Welle reports.

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Morocco Wages "Soft" War Against Islamic Extremism In Prisons

Launched in 2017 to combat radicalization, the Moussalaha program is finding success by helping those incarcerated for terrorism by providing counseling, reducing their prison sentences and following up after release.

RABAT — In Europe, deradicalization policies are often highly contested and their effectiveness is regularly questioned. But Morocco, a majority Muslim country, has become a pioneer in these sorts of programs. To face the terrorist threat on its territory, the North African kingdom is not content with preventing attacks and neutralizing actors. A security source contacted by Jeune Afrique spoke of a "multi-dimensional strategy that does not rely solely on the security approach.”

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Autopsy Of The Muslim Brotherhood's Failed Political Project

A decade after the Arab Spring, the Islamist political movement driven by the Muslim Brotherhood, from Egypt to Morocco and beyond, continues to flirt with more extreme Salafist elements to build popular support — and continues to show its utter incapacity to properly run a national government.

-Analysis-

The momentous setback of the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) this past September has had everyone in the political world talking, including Islamists themselves. Abdelilah Benkirane, the former prime minister who returned as the head of the party following an extraordinary congress on Oct. 30, emphasized the responsibility of the party itself in this defeat, including "internal quarrels and renouncing the values of Islam and the fundamentals of Islamist militancy, including selflessness."

The outgoing party leaders, instead, described the defeat as a kind of puzzle, even leaving the doors open to "deep state" conspiracy theories.

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Geopolitics
Marcos Peckel

Abraham Accords Unleashed: The Middle East Will Never Be The Same

The peace accords signed between conservative Arab states and Israel are the start of an inevitable opening for the Middle East, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan means a new post-American, post-oil future.

-Editorial-

BOGOTÁ — Days ago, passing through the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv, I could see prominent signs announcing direct flights between Israel and Casablanca in Morocco, and with Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Manama the capital of Bahrain, and Cairo. These were in addition to the dozen daily flights linking Tel Aviv and Istanbul, which have been operating for some years.

And to think on top of that, we now see the opening of Saudi airspace to flights to Israel, which would have been unthinkable just a few years back.

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Society
Jane Roussel

LGBTQ+ In Morocco: A New Video Series To Open Minds

In a country where homosexuality is still penalized, the feminist LGBT+ group Nassawiyat launches a poetic and political video series to try to change conservative mindsets.

"My hair has never been like others, people have always described it as ugly, frizzy..."

So begins "Nouwara," the first episode of the web series Homouna (which means "they/them," in reference to the pronoun used to designate a person who doesn't use she or he pronouns).

It's produced by the Moroccan LGBTQ+ feminist group Nassawiyat (meaning "feminist") and financed by an undisclosed backer. Posted on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook, Homouna tells the story of a queer woman in a patriarchal society.

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Sources
Nina Kozlowski

In Morocco, A Fake Gynecologist Exposed As Online Predator

Since the beginning of the year, a fake doctor has been offering free consultations to young women on Instagram order to solicit intimate photos or incite them to commit sexual acts.

CASABLANCA — Forced outings, sextortion, revenge porn: Moroccan social networks have not been spared from this type of cybercrime. And the victims — mostly women or homosexuals — prefer to keep quiet for fear that their denunciations will turn against them. According to a report published last March by the Moroccan network Mobilising for Rights Associates (MRA), seven out of 10 victims of online violence do not report attacks "out of shame" and "fear of social rejection."

Indeed, justice is not necessarily risk-free. Recently, a Court of Appeals in the northern city of Tetouan confirmed a lower court verdict of one month in prison and a fine of 500 dirhams ($136) for Hanaa, a young mother who was the victim of "pornographic revenge" on social networks.

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Geopolitics
Ghalia Kadiri

How COVID-19 Put The Brakes On Moroccan Smuggling Trade

The pandemic and subsequent closing of the border with Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco, put an end to the 'atypical trade' that sustained the Fnideq region.

FNIDEQ — In the middle of the dense crowd gathered in front of the great mosque of Fnideq, a small trading town in northern Morocco, Amina stands silent, as if paralyzed. Dressed in a white djellaba and scarf, she holds a picture of her neighbor in her hands. The man, in his 40s, poses with his four children in front of the sea. His name was Ahmed Bouhbou.

A few weeks ago, the Spanish coast guard fished his body out of the sea. He had tried to swim to Ceuta with two young people from his neighborhood, dragging a handmade buoy held by a fishing net.

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Geopolitics
Nina Kozlowski

In Morocco, A New Movement To Legalize Sex Outside Marriage

In the kingdom, a 'revenge porn' case revived the debate on article 490, which criminalizes sexual relations outside marriage. Activists say it's time to modernize the country on the issue of sexual freedom

RABAT — What if individual liberties could be placed at the center of the upcoming legislative elections in Morocco? This is the goal of the social movement "Moroccan Outlaws", led by author Leila Slimani and director Sonia Terrab. On Feb. 22, the "Outlaws' launched a direct appeal to political parties to finally take a stand either for or against the repeal of article 490 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sexual relations outside marriage.

Since Oct. 2019, the Moroccan Outlaws have been campaigning for the repeal of this article. This fight emerged during the case of Hajar Raïssouni, a journalist sentenced to prison for having an "illegal abortion" and "sexual relations outside marriage," before being pardoned by King Mohammed VI. In that year, according to figures from the General Prosecutor's Office, 15,192 persons were prosecuted under this article. On Feb. 3 2021, a distressing new case prompted the Outlaws to take action again. A single mother from Tetouan was sentenced to one month in prison after an intimate video of her was posted on the internet without her knowledge. The perpetrator, who lives in the Netherlands, was never arrested.

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Geopolitics
Alfred Hackensberger

Why Morocco Is So Much Faster Than Europe In Vaccination Race

The North African country was quick to react when COVID-19 first showed up and is now outpacing places like Germany in a rush to immunize its citizens.

TANGIERS — All they have to do is send a text, and a few seconds later Moroccans have their vaccine appointment. The country has overtaken Germany in the vaccination race. And while Europe is languishing in lockdown, life in Morocco is almost back to normal. What is the secret to their success?

Even from the street, the sign over the entrance to the Roi Fahd Health Center in Tangiers is clearly visible. "COVID-19" is written in the middle in large red letters, with pictures of syringes on either side. The pillars are festooned with flags bearing Morocco's national emblem — two lions with a shield and crown and the five-pointed star, which represents life and health.

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Sources
Ghalia Kadiri

In Patriarchal Morocco, A Push For 'Positive Masculinity'

A doctoral student in Casablanca is using a series of podcasts to help free his countrymen from one-size-fits-all notions about how men can and should behave.

CASABLANCA — Sufiane Hennani is convinced that the fight for equality between the sexes will not be won without men. And so, this 28-year-old doctoral student in medical biology has decided to shake up the codes of patriarchy by launching a series of podcasts dedicated to the debate on gender relations in Morocco.

The first episode, listened to by several thousand in Morocco and France, sparked a debate on social media and in homes. "We are pleasantly surprised by the public's reactions," says Hennani. "Even public television invited us to talk about it! "Finally," people told us. "It was about time.""

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Sources
Ghalia Kadiri

Kardashian In Casablanca? A Plastic Surgery Boom In Morocco

In a kingdom torn between the rise of Islamism and always-connected digital world, more and more women are undergoing invasive operations, sometimes risking their lives.

CASABLANCA — The dress code is strict: thigh-length evening dress, plunging neckline, fifteen centimeter-high stilettos. It is essential to carry a designer bag (if not a knock-off), to wear sunglasses with rhinestones and a watch wider than your wrist, preferably gold-plated. Fadela* adds a last coat of mascara to her false eyelashes before getting out of the cab. The driver took care to drop her off a few meters from the main entrance to the exclusive restaurant and club La Corniche.

In front of this new meeting place for the Casablanca elite, customers arrive in luxury vehicles and large 4×4 cars with tinted windows. But Fadela prefers to walk the rest of the way rather than be spotted getting out of a taxi, a cheap means of transportation in Morocco. She is willing to walk despite being in pain. Fadela is recovering from a surgery called "BBL," Brazilian Butt Lift.

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Geopolitics

Open Or Close Borders? The Impossible Choice Isn't Going Away

Viewed from the proverbial (and literal) 30,000 feet, the most stunning consequence of the coronavirus pandemic may have been the sudden closing of national borders. In an increasingly open world, the past six months of severe international travel restrictions continues to disrupt lives and hobble the global economy.

Last week, the six-months-long closure of the world's longest land border, between the United States and Canada, to "discretionary" travel was extended to at least until Oct. 21. Leaders of these two neighbors face the same impossible dilemma as other countries pondering the reopening of their borders, between saving lives and saving the economy.

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THE WIRE
Ahmed Eljechtimi

A Female Voice Busts Into 'Man's World' Of Moroccan Rap

With edgy lyrics and an attitude that's too legit to quit, rapper Houda Abouz — aka Khtek — is pushing against the grain and gaining a substantial following.

RABAT — In a rap scene dominated my men, women's voices are starting to make waves in Morocco.

Houda Abouz, a 24-year-old who majors in film studies at a university in the northern city of Tetouan, has long been fascinated by hip-hop. Encouraged by friends, she finally decided to picked up a mic, and from there began to perform.

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Migrant Lives
Parastou Hassouri

Refugee v. Migrant? What We're Missing In Immigration Debate

By distinguishing between refugees and migrants, international law underestimates the plight of people displaced by poverty and climate change.

-Analysis-

CAIRO — Last December at a summit in Marrakesh, Morocco, 164 countries adopted the Global Compact on Migration, a United Nations-led agreement that aims to forge cooperation on managing migration around the globe. The compact's supporters hail it as a landmark, the first step towards creating an international legal framework that addresses migrants generally, and not just refugees.

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Geopolitics
Charlotte Bozonnet

On The Road To Europe: Morocco Cracks Down On Migrants

Since this summer, Morocco is the theater of an unprecedented wave of arrests and forced displacements of Sub-Saharan Africans forced to hide.

TANGIER — They came at 5 A.M, in the Boukhalef neighborhood in Tangier, pounding at the doors and ordering the residents to come out of their homes.

Donatien, a 35-year-old Cameroon native, who today is sheltered in the south of Morocco, recalls the arrival of several vans with policemen and paramilitary forces that report to the minister of the interior. At the bottom of the apartment building, around 50 men, women, and children were piled into a car and taken to the central police headquarters. They would wait there for more than 12 hours without food or water.

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