As the month of June rolls in, so do many events across Morocco, and the greater Maghreb. The first is Big Trap Boy‘s call for posts for a unified Maghreb – bloggers across the Maghreb were asked, on June 1, to make a post in favor of the Maghreb Union. Youssef from Maghrebism shared his opinion:
The Maghreb for me doesn’t really exist. In name it does and there is an institution called Maghreb Union, but for me it is useless and a hassle.
All the Maghreb countries are still little children fighting over their toys and pulling each others hair out. Just like your normal dysfunctional family. The Union will do nothing to solve that.
Let us first grow up before we decide to marry into an union. Seriously, that union came way too quick and was actually more part of this low self-esteem of our elites who desperately tried to model everything to European standards. In the mean time they forgot that an union needs basic things like a working judiciary, healthy economies, good democracies etc.
Myrtus called for bloggers to breathe new life into the Union:
The good news is that the Maghreb blogosphere is now trying to come together to say “hey you slackers, enough of that”! Let's all get together and breathe some new life into this Maghreb Union, who cares if it doesn't really exist, maybe we can make it happen ourselves if we try hard enough, even if it's just a virtual union on the World Wide Web.
While other bloggers were enthusiastic for a Maghreb Union, Xoussef explained why he wouldn't be blogging on June 1:
We, bloggers, always condemn maghrebi politicians for there hypocrisy. I dislike hypocrisy too, so i won't be hypocrite, i won't blog for a United Maghreb.
Let's be clear: i don't have anything against other north African countries, but i don't believe in that grand Maghreb Arabe myth.
Let's face it: Morocco is not ready. I can't talk about what i don't really know, so i will only talk about my country. we have to deal with a lot of problems including forging a national identity, Amazigh rights, sahraoui problem, representativity and democracy issues, let alone other poverty and economic problems. You can't give what you don't have, and until we reasonably solve these issues, thinking of building a big union is vain.
June 1 was also the day for a special concert in Meknes which benefited Bayti (which means “my home”), a local organization which helps children from all different circumstances. This particular benefit not only helped the children financially – they were actually invited as well. El Hafa reported on the event, saying “Another marvelous night, but this time it was in my hometown, in the French institute in Meknes.”
Finally, June 1 also brought the opening night of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, a prominent festival featuring performers of sacred music from all around the world, as Braveheart Does the Maghreb describes:
There are different bands from around the world all playing religious music. The theme this year is “Weavers of Peace”. In addition to the bands there are readings of Sufi poetry. On the program are listed musicians from Sweden, Iran, south Africa, Portugal, Brazil, France, Turkey, Pakistan, Mauritania, Spain, Benin, India, Syria, Lebanon, and Uzbekistan. The London community Gospel Choir from the UK will be performing the last evening. There are to be art exhibits and films as well.
Everything Morocco, a Fez resident, shared fears prior to the festival:
“So more than anything, I hope we will be left in peace to enjoy the festival, the chance encounters with strangers and the ambience that comes to place so full of excitement and anticipation. It promises to be a fabulous and memorable festival week.”
As the festival began, the blogger shared experiences from the festival, including a speech made by HRM King Mohammed VI:
First, the King commended the festival efforts to pursue a dialogue on coexistence between different cultures and civilizations and the bonds between the revealed religions and values we all have in common.
He went on to say he is not surprised that Fez is the location of a World Sacred Music Festival because, in his words, “…music has flourished only in places where man can forget about material things, embrace faith, and the Absolute in order to experience all the gifts with which the Almighty has endowed him, particularly his spirituality. Furthermore, music is a most powerful form of spiritual expression; it is also the medium most likely to bring humans together.”
He continued saying, “Islam is a faith based on reason and wisdom.” He cited instances where the Holy Qu'ran praises the mind and encourages reflection. There should be balance between the sacred and the modern because one cannot fully exist without the other. The sacred would wither and the modern would lack soul. A complement of these two concepts, sacred and modern, is what the festival aspires to with its message of hope, discernment and brotherhood.
Despite the sanctity of the festival, there was still room for celebrity sightings. Queen Rania of Jordan and Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco were both in attendance, along with a different sort of special guest, reports four continents:
Surely enough, both Sir Bono and his band-mate the Edge are wandering Fes listening to sacred music this week – I'll snap a photo if I run into them somewhere light.
One last important June event occurred early in the morning on Monday, June 4. The American Consulate in Casablanca, which has been closed since April (due to security concerns following suicide attacks near the building), reopened, according to The Morocco Report:
Regardless, the Consulate is now open and those applying for immigrant visas will be contacted by June 11 in order to reschedule their appointments. The Consulate is also accepting applications for nonimmigrant and business visas again.
Photo by Hamza Daoui.