Morocco: The Intellectual Capabilities of Sheep

As summer wears on and the heat rises to 45 degrees, Moroccan bloggers are posting even more frequently (perhaps they have air conditioning), even though Moroccan news seems to be at a standstill. One major story involves two Moroccan journalists on trial for leaking top secret security information. Laila Lalami comments:

In the course of investigative work, journalists the world over try to get access to classified information, so the idea that obtaining these documents is a crime in itself is a little bizarre. An independent court system might have helped Ariri and Hormatallah regain their freedom, but don't hold your breath. The case is likely to be influenced by politics.

Regardless of the lack of news, bloggers still find things to talk about. One major subject this week was culture; Braveheart-does-the-Maghreb discussed the differences between French and Moroccan cultures:

If you have traveled to France you know it is custom and good manners there to announce yourself when entering a shop with “Bon jour” and to signify your leaving with “Au Revoir”. It is much the same here, but you get much better service if you take the time to say hello in Arabic or French, , and then ask after the health of the shopkeeper. You will receive handshakes, smiles, and an array of tidbits such as fresh, tasty walnuts, dates, and an invitation to the back of the shop where he keeps the fresh spices.

The blogger also shared an interesting tidbit about a special summer custom in Morocco:

Another custom here is the sprinkling of water on the front stoop and the street, followed usually by a sweeping with a squeegee device. At certain times of the day in the morning and the afternoon around three you have to dodge the water being tossed in the Medina. As Q points out it doesn’t appear to really clean anything but rather to keep the dust down.

While those anecdotes deal with Morocco's urban culture, Samuel Gunter of Life Called… ruminates on the rural culture in which he lives by asking whether or not sheep are intelligent – he personally believes they're not, explaining:

Because they follow each other around and would follow each other off of a cliff it that's where they were led. I've seen them repeatedly walk into a fence to try to get to the other side when the door is 3 feet away. Not the brightest animal in God's creation.

Moroccan sheepies

Apparently his Moroccan counterparts disagree, claiming that sheep are, in fact, quite smart. The blogger concludes:

The sheep here are the same sheep in the rest of the world, the only difference is what the people deem praiseworthy. I'm going to let you draw your own conclusions about what that says about our cultural differences.

Throne Day, a holiday which honors the accession of His Majesty King Mohammed VI to the throne, is on Monday, July 30. A national holiday, banks and other offices will close, and many Moroccans will celebrate. The View From Fez informs us that Fez's Jewish community has already held a special celebration:

To start the proceedings, the Rabbi said a prayer in Hebrew praising His Majesty, which was followed by another in Arabic. Finally, the grandson of Dr Guigui, President of the Jewish Community, read a prayer in French.

Finally, we'll close this week's post with a few special haiku written by one of Morocco's many Peace Corps volunteers, 27monthswithoutbaseball

Cactus and palm trees
Ocean outside the window
Gleaming white buildings

Washing tiled floors
Hanging laundry on the line
Clean? Then the dust comes

Labyrinth of streets
Surprises and mysteries
The romance of Fes

Photo of sheep – Agouray, Morocco by Jillian York

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