Monthly Archives: May 2012

Checking out Rabat’s Mawazine Festival

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Rabat has been abuzz this week due to the Mawazine Festival, which brings scores of musicians from around the world to play nightly concerts at a few different venues throughout the city. The most well-known ones are set up around large, outdoor stages– Souissi, for the big-name international stars (e.g. Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Pitbull),  the Nahda and Salé stages for the Arab World and Moroccan local stars respectively, and another on the Bouregreg River, for African / Afro-Latino beats.

Except for a VIP section closer to the stage at a couple locales, the shows are free! On one hand, this is awesome. But on the other, it can make the concerts– particularly in Souissi — far too crowded and rowdy for comfort. Groups of teenage thugs go there for a combination of partying and trouble-making, including rock throwing (which has also occurred at soccer games here). It’s definitely not recommended for women to go there alone. I did go to Souissi to see world famous Algerian singer Cheb Khaled, known as “The King of Rai,” with an American friend of mine, but we were fortunate to have our own teenage bodyguard to protect us from the other teenage boys. Actually, he was the 17 year-old brother of my friend’s friend. It was sufficient enough. I enjoyed the concert, though not sure I would repeat the experience. Being that far back from the stage, you might as well watch the show on TV from the comfort of your home. My friend wanted to wait to see Khaled play her favorite song of his, “Aicha.” Of course, this is also his most famous song, and singers always save the best for last. So we waited until the very end of the concert to hear it, and then made our exit, in a mad rush together with the swarms of concert go-ers.

Perhaps the exception to the craziness of Mawazine is the Bouregreg venue. I went earlier tonight and greatly enjoyed it. There was a full and lively audience, but it still seemed rather calm. I saw relatively high percentages of families with kids, as well as expats (perhaps because the rowdy crew went to see Mariah Carey in Souissi instead). But it still had a festive atmosphere, with many swaying and clapping to the music of Chiwoniso, a Zimbabwean group.

From way in the back, at the Mawazine concert of Khaled, “King of Rai.”

Seeing Zimbabwean group Chiwoniso at the Bouregreg stage of Mawazine.

Another shot of Chiwoniso.

Réunions aux Clubs Rotaract de Rabat

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Les dernières semaines, j’ai assisté à deux géniales réunions de Clubs Rotaract à Rabat (Rabat Chellah et Rabat Agdal ILCS), et j’ai appris de leurs projets divers pour aider les enfants pauvres ou à besoins spéciaux / handicapés,  améliorer l’environnement, et contribuer au développement de la société.

Moi avec une partie de la groupe Rotaract Rabat Chellah

À Rotaract Rabat Chellah: En recevant le drapeau du club

Avec les filles de Rotaract Rabat Chellah

Visit to Rotaract Rabat Agdal at The Instiutte for Leadership and Communication Studies (ILCS). Here the meeting was actually in English. On the far right is an American instructor at the university who supervises the group. To my left is the Club President, Soukayna, an MA student at the ILCS.

Visit to Morocco’s National Human Rights Council

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Last week I participated in a school trip to Morocco’s National Human Rights Council, originally established in 1990 (though under a different title). We heard from one of the council’s officials, who discussed (in Arabic) its work and evolution over the years. He emphasized that 1999 was a time of change in Morocco, when the new King Mohammad VI ascended the throne and decided to advance human rights reforms, including by seeking to reconcile the problems of Morocco’s past, which had involved arrests and disappearances of political opponents. He then talked about the role of the council in protecting the rights of women, children, and marginalized groups, as well as combating corruption. Some of the specific measures he mentioned included raising the age of marriage to 18 in accordance with international law (though there are possible exceptions with agreement of parents and a judge), as well as increasing the age of required schooling to 15. Other laws he highlighted included those requiring the reporting of child abuse and banning child labor, as well as one  allowing Moroccan mothers to pass their nationality on to their children even if they are married to a foreign spouse.

Many of the questions in the following Q & A session, including my own, centered on the gap between the law and its application (as well as gaps in the laws themselves), which particularly affect the poorer and more isolated areas. In this regard, the speaker highlighted Morocco’s progress, as well as a number of measures to monitor the situation in these areas, spread information about the new laws (including in Amazigh/ Berber for the non-Arabic speakers), and provide mechanisms for the reporting of human rights abuses across the country. Another question concerned freedom of expression. In his response, the official mentioned the role of judges in determining when there are violations of expression, as well as the announced creation of the National Council of Journalists, and the extensive use of the internet–a domain largely free of restraints– by Moroccans to express their views.

See previous post on challenges to press freedom in Morocco here: https://marimorocco.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/514/

Inside Morocco’s National Human Rights Council

The meeting room in the council.