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Tag Archives: Africa

Censorship in Morocco: “Basta” (Stop)

February 18th, I thought that I will be writing an article on “475,”a short film about Amina Filali case, the   16 year-old girl who committed suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist.

About a year after Amina’s life, the film about her life was supposed to take place at the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) office in Rabat.  Unfortunately, the showing was canceled because of technical reasons.

The alternative to Amina’s film was “Basta”. A film by “Guerilla Cinema”, a group of Young Moroccan activists who took their cameras and traveled all over the Kingdom to produce a short film about theaters in Morocco.

The group faced censorship while trying to produce their film. The film illustrates this censorship when it opens with scenes of metal barriers and chains

Everywhere they went, people told them: “You are not allowed to film here!” This kind of censorship came from ordinary citizens, not the government (L’Makhzen).

In one scene outside a cinema, a woman told the crew to stop filming because they received an order from the Royal Palace forbidding anyone to film here and that the place belongs to the King.

The film crew had rocks and chicken head thrown at them while trying to film in the souk in Tiflet. People insulted them.

The experience prompted the crew to film “Basta,’’ a short film about the challenges facing cinema in Morocco. They raised an important question: How can you develop the Moroccan Movie Industry if you don’t have the right to film?

“If you want to be a filmmaker you need to practice, but you can’t without an authorization,” said Hamza Mahfoudi (Director of Photography, Basta).

This Authorization is issued by the Moroccan Center of Cinematography (CCM) and the Moroccan Ministry of Interior. It is only issued to legal entities, not to individuals.

Without this authorization, a filmmaker risks his film career and the likelihood of going to jail.

The need for authorization to film violates the new Moroccan constitution (Article 25) which guarantees free of expression and artistic creation.

As a GlobalGirl and as a beginner in video making, I know how this is discouraging.

Decades ago, cinema theatres were open in every city in Morocco with more than 250 of them all around the country (50 in Casablanca).

After independence, people used cinema to educate, raise awareness and promote citizen and democratic values that are the fundamentals to every modern nation.

We need to democratize the film industry so we can create a better society for us and the next generation.

Moroccan woman raped and arrested after her rapist was declared innocent

Malika Slimani, a woman who was raped by a government official, found herself facing contempt charges for protesting an appeals court decision to declare her rapist innocent.

A lower court found Hassan Arif guilty and sentenced him to one year. Malika became pregnant after the rape. DNA evidence confirmed that Hassan, a parliamentary deputy, is the father of her child. Malika was charged with screaming in court and breaking some a statute in front of the court room, a day after the verdict was announced.

I went to the court to talk with Malika about her case. I didn’t get a chance to interview Malika, but I learned more about the case from the people close to Malika. To hear Malika tell her story, click here.

Malika and Hassan met three years ago when Hassan served as mayor of Ain Aouida commune. Malika was doing some paperwork regarding a land issue she had with the commune.

Later, Hassan invited Malika to dinner to discuss her issue. They had dinner at Miramar Restaurant in Temara.

After dinner, he asked her to accompany come him to his farm to continue their conversation because he had to pack for a business trip. They exchanged a few kisses, but when Hassan wanted to have sex, Malika stopped him.

But he ignored her refusal and raped her.

After the rape, Hassan reportedly told Malika: “Cover my shame and I will cover yours.’’

Yes! I consider it rape because when a woman says “No,’’ it means “No.’’

Even if a prostitute refuses a man who is about to pay her to have sex with him, her “No’’ should be respected. When a woman says “NO,’’ she is not consenting to sex, according to the law.

Malika has been fighting for justice for three years, but Hassan has used his influence to silence her. He tried to dismiss the case, but he was convicted. He appealed his conviction and the appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision.

Why did the judge charge Malika for disturbing the court? What woman wouldn’t scream if her rapist was found innocent?! Malika was raped again by the appeals court.

It’s an understandable reaction from a woman who was seeking justice and was fighting for her dignity from a man who told a group of judges in court:  “in our religion, we choose to f*** (ننكح) women for her beauty, dignity and fortune. “

What a shame on us as Moroccans that an official can show such disrespect to women?

Every day, women get sexually harassed on the streets, in the workplace, in school and anywhere they go. Some of these assaults can lead to rape. While I was in court, there were eight other rape cases on the docket.

How courageous of those women to come forward, though they live in a society that puts the shame on them for what happened instead of focusing on the perpetrator. There are so many other women who cry in silence every day. And some commit suicide. Remember the case of Amina Filali, the 16-year-old girl who committed suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist.

 

After this football game, this is how I feel as a Moroccan.

It’s been a real long time since we had an homogeneous Moroccan National Football Team. A homogeneity that we’ve been able to feel among our national team players during this game against the Mozambique.

So now, I have a question: Is it with Moroccan coaches or foreign coaches that we were able to get the best results? Since my first memories, and according to my empirical observations, it is definitely with the Moroccan coaches !

But I am a bit skeptical about the next games of our “Atlas Lions”. I fear that they don’t keep their feet on the ground and get an excess of self confidence, which can have in my opinion negative repercussions on their performance.

I must also say that the moments where I’m proud of my country are very rare, and Zaki & its selection were the first to make me proud of my country. I am a patriot, but the only moments that I can feel proud of my country is when our Moroccan National Football wins with great results and performance.

This is due to the situation of Morocco on the economic side and specially on the social and ethnological sides, but I’m not writing today to talk about the pain that we carry with us as Moroccan but I’m writing today to say that the “Atlas Lions” have made me proud and, believe me, I’m not the only one.

Football in Morocco is not just a national sport, but it’s the opportunity for once and for all Moroccans to feel proud of being Moroccan.

Leila Ghandi : My first inspiring Moroccan woman

First of all, before telling you why is she the first Moroccan woman who was capable of inspiring me, I must say who is she. Laila Ghandi is a photographer, a journalist and an independant filmmaker (before becoming at TV host on the Moroccan Channel 2M) who travels the world seeking a give and take from it by :

  • learning from her cultural experiences in the different countries where she travels, and by
  • sharing these experiences using her camera.

This video may be interesting for French speaker, a video where she briefly summarize the spirit of her work and her leitmotifs :

So why do I find her so inspiring ? Because I consider myself as a “Walker through life”, which means that I like to explore all what life can give as as experience and Leila Ghandi definitely illustrates this as I truly believe that the best way to fully explore life is to travel around the world seeking those kind of cultural experience.

This is actually the first thing that caught my attention. But of course, when you come to learn more about someone, you tend to see other facets. Sometimes you found that person more inspiring or… you get disappointed.

But she just became the first Moroccan woman who truly inspires me. She made a from her passion a great work. By this, she’s not just telling us that you can live by your dreams and passions BUT she also telling us that you have to give and take, that passions and dreams are not just individual experiences but a collective one when you share what you learned for those experiences with the world around you in order to share its benefits.

The African Rolling Stones

Nass El Ghiwane is a Moroccan musical group established in 1971 in Hay Mohammadione of the poorest areas in Casablanca.

The older ones will probably remember their song Ya Sah which appeared in the first The Last Temptation of The Christ (1988) -which, by the way, was shot entirely in Morocco.

Initially, the group was composed of five members : Laarbi Batma (the charismatic leader), Omar Sayed, Boujmîa Hagour, Mahmoud Saadi, Allal Yaâla & Aziz Tahiri.

Their music, which still inspires many generations, incorporate a trance aesthetic reflecting the influence of Gnawa music. Their music was also inspired from AïtaMelhounHmadcha and Jilala.

Drawn from the Moroccan poetry and Sufi texts, their lyrics are a way of portraying the society and of criticizing the political system.

Well-known for their political engagement, they’re from the Moroccan generation who’s been influenced by the Hippie Ideology.

Martin Scorsese, the director of The Last Temptation of The Christ and Gangs of New York, used to nickname them as The African Rolling Stones.

Even after the death of Laarbi Batna, Nass El Ghiwane still have a huge place in the heart of every Moroccan citizen.