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Migrant Lives

Morocco News, 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home

From local politics to the the battle against polio to a banned prostitution film, here's a quick tour of what has been happening in Morocco in recent days.

Morocco News, 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home
Giacomo Tognini

This week we shine the spotlight on Morocco:

POLIO FREE

Decades after a major vaccination program, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally declared Morocco free of polio last week. Casablanca-based daily Le Matin reports that since implementing the polio vaccination program, Morocco's last reported case was in 1989. According to the Moroccan Health Ministry, the authorities established a successful surveillance system to track polio cases and the kingdom adhered to the WHO's global anti-polio initiative for 27 years. While polio was present in as many as 125 countries in 1988, there are currently only three countries where the disease is still endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.


STORMING THE CITIES

Morocco's governing Justice and Development Party (PJD), led by Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, swept local elections last week capturing 28% of seats, ahead of the liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) at 20%, reported Paris-based Le Monde. The PJD is an Islamist party that has been in power since its victory in the 2011 general election, while the PAM was founded by a royal counselor close to the monarchy. In this year's vote, the PJD won control of major cities like Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, the capital of Rabat, and Agadir, all among the country's largest and most important urban centers.



YEMEN INTERVENTION

As the forces loyal to exiled President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi gain ground in their war against the Shia Houthi rebels, aided by Saudi air power and ground troops, other members of the Arab coalition are joining the effort to end the war once and for all. According to Moroccan magazine Le Mag, Yemeni military sources revealed that the Moroccan navy is already preparing to begin operations in Yemen, with Moroccan army units to be deployed in the provinces of Taiz, Aden, Marib and Al Hudaydah. Egypt, Jordan and Sudan are also reportedly joining military operations in Yemen against the Houthis.



MIGRANTS IN MELILLA

As dozens of refugees attempted to cross the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla in recent days, Moroccan authorities announced they were considering the possibility of "regularizing" and giving documents to around 500 Syrian refugees, writes the Moroccan Al Huffington Post. Some 70 Syrian refugees gathered at the border for five consecutive days, a symptom of the wider migrant crisis engulfing Europe and the Mediterranean region. Last year, Morocco granted residency to some 5,000 Syrians, giving priority to women and children — but it also imposed entry visa restrictions on citizens from a number of Arab countries, including Syria.


MUCH LOVED, MUCH HATED

Much Loved, a French-Moroccan movie, has been banned in Morocco for its "contempt for moral values and Moroccan women." Screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Much Loved tells the lives of four prostitutes in Marakesh. Extracts of the movie showing lascivious dancing and strong sexual content sparked national debate, leading authorities to ban the film that was scheduled for release this fall. Paris-born Moroccan writer and director of Much Loved Nabil Ayouch told Moroccan news website H24info.ma he still hoped his movie could be released one day in Morocco: "When you hand someone a mirror, they have two choices: either look into the mirror or break it. In this case, those who broke the mirror didn't solve anything."

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Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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