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.
This week we shine the spotlight on Morocco:
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.
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."