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Manal – The bold and the beautiful Moroccan blogger

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Media & Journalism, Religion, Technology, Travel

Manal, author of Carpe Diem [1]Do you remember Jyllandsposten [2]? The newspaper that published cartoons of the prophet (PBUH) [3]? Representatives of the paper refused to meet with the BBC [4], CNN [5] or the Danish TV, but agreed to meet Manal!!

Yes, Manal is a student-doctor who blogs and wants to make a difference. Her blog Manal Carpe Diem [6] (fr) is a very special one with original posts that show authenticity but also boldness. I was curious to know more about her trip to Denmark [7] (fr), so I asked her some questions. Her answers were so simple yet so inspiring that I decided to share this interview with you.

I read in your blog that you went to Denmark to make a difference, tell me more about it..

I went to Denmark to participate in a week of dialogue between Muslim and Danish youth. I wanted to give them an other image about Islam rather than burned flags and embassies, because this is not Islam. Unfortunately, the image conveyed by the media is totally wrong, and I’m happy that I could change some of the prejudices about my religion and I could prove to the Danes that Islam calls for peace and tolerance, calls for respect and freedom not for violence and terrorism. Thanks to God, I could read in the eyes of many of them a lot of amazement and surprise, and I’m sure that they won’t be influenced anymore by the wrong ideas spread about Islam.

Was it a personal initiative ?

Well, the week in Denmark was an initiative taken by Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke [8] , to deepen the relationships between Danes and The Muslim world. The program was a combination of cultural meetings and exchanges of views with politicians, media and opinion makers. There were about 42 young Muslims from different countries, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kenya, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Palestine… The experience was really great, and the Danes showed a real will to mend this big wound that is still bleeding, and to repair this big mistake. Of course, no official apologies have been made, but all of those who were with our group, politicians and the average Joe citizens were sorry about what happened. They were all preaching the freedom of speech but they also realized that publishing such cartoons was a big mistake. I believe that respect should be a rule if we really want to live peacefully.

What about the visit you paid to Jyllandsposten?

One of the most important steps of the week was the visit to Jyllandsposten, the newspaper that published the cartoons. They refused to see the BBC, the CNN, the Danish TV, but they agreed to meet us. It was a good point, even if we had a unilateral dialogue. The media convey some of the truth but not the whole truth. The media didn’t show to the Muslim world that there are some Danes who protested against the publication of the cartoons, and they showed to Danes that Muslims only burned flags and embassies… this is not the whole truth…
Fortunately, they’re some Danes who took some concrete initiatives like creating a website anotherdenmark [9] or inviting some young people to get to know more about the Danish culture and promote dialogue, I believe that misunderstanding is the result of ignorance.

Now, let's try to know more about you. Why do you blog?

My blog is a space where I can express myself freely and spontaneously. It’s a great experience since it allows youto meet people from different backgrounds. It also gives you the opportunity to talk about many issues and share your opinions with the whole world without censorship and with only “a click”. I don’t like to share my intimate life with the others, I prefer to talk more about my daily life in the hospital or about my different experiences with NGO’s but from time to time I do post about private matters.

What do you think about the Moroccan blogosphere?

I see it as an extraordinary melting pot, exactly the way the Moroccan society is. Every day, we “witness the birth” of more and more , from different backgrounds and fields. Each space is unique and each blog brings a fresh air to the blogosphere. I had the opportunity to meet many bloggers and I was really amazed, some became very close friends…

How do you explain the fact that most of the Moroccan blogs are in French instead of Arabic or Moroccan dialect?

Most of the Moroccan bloggers have a high educational level, there are a lot of university students. The Moroccan universities teach in French, then the majority find it easier to express themselves in this language. One other reason that can explain this fact, is that we blog to transmit a message, and the choice of the language shouldn't really be an issue, it is only a tool! The most important thing is that my readers get my messages..

What do you “hope” from your blogging experience?

Learn more and more, meet new people and enjoy the experience of sharing…

Who reads your blog?

Lots of people (laughing) bloggers and non bloggers. Actually many readers send me e-mails to encourage me and congratulate me for the choice of my subjects, or sometimes to express their disagreement. I know trough the statistics that a lot of visitors come to see me…


Well, I do know that I am a regular visitor of “Carpe Diem”, and she amazes me everyday for the choice of her subjects, and many times, for her boldness. So good luck Manal and thank you.

That's it for today. See you next Wednesday, Inshallah.