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Tag Archives: education

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.


Moroccan Higher Educational System : Overcrowding & Free Open Access

After the independence of Morocco, the number of people getting a higher education was very small (see table), but in the 90′s this number increased.  After that, higher educational institutions and some faculties limited their access by introducing new requirements to limit overcrowding because of the lack of resources. But faculties of Art, Humanities, Law and Economics had to absorb the remaining number of students to respect and follow the “education for all” policy that the government made.

Source : AuFait

And then from a quantitative crisis we moved to a qualitative crisis in those faculties, due to overcrowding and the lack of material resources. In some universities we have 280 students for 100 places (Lahcen Daouidi). And according to the 2011 report of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (page 15), five higher educational institutions are in a critical situation of overcrowding where they’re exceeding 200 percent of their capacity. This results in a lack of quality of what the students acquire in those institutions and an inadequacy between what the graduate student have learned in those faculties and what the job market requests.

In a recent interview to the quotidian L’Economiste, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Lahcen Daouidi talked about making the rich pay for the poorBut from a human rights militant view, AMDH Vie-President Abdelhamid Amine says, “The free access to education is something essential.”

So who’s right and who’s wrong? Actually from an idealistic angle, Abdelhamid Amine is right. But let’s be realistic and use some common sense: With its budgetary constraints, the government can’t just finance everyone’s studies AND provide to them at the same time a good education quality.  It is simply impossible with the increasing number of students.

So this why I believe that a student who has the means to pay for access to the university should pay for themselves. On the other hand, students who have limited financial resources must get free access. Universities and higher educational institutions need the financial support to build adequate infrastructures and to provide a supportive environment to the students as well as the teachers, enabling and encouraging them this way to give quality teaching.

The only obstacle that I can see through this reform is when it comes to evaluating who has the means to pay for access. Lahcen Daouidi’s answer was they’ll “deal with the situation in individual cases.”  How much time is going to take? How many resources is it going to take? And also, what’s the criteria to consider someone able to pay for access?

We usually fail our reforms in those small technical details, which makes our work ineffective.  I still think that it is a good idea to allow access to this many students in our higher educational institutes and at the same time giving them a good quality teaching.

What should politicians and educators do? Do you have any suggestions? Any ideas? Let’s all try to think about it!