Morocco: Looking inward, looking outward

This week, a post by Adilski of A Moro in America, considered inflammatory by many, sparked a discussion amongst bloggers inside and outside of the blogoma. The post, written in Arabic and translated for Global Voices, discussed the way Moroccans are maligned in the Gulf, considered prostitutes and gold diggers. From the translation:

Al Arabiya TV is launching a war on the Moroccan society and in particular it's women. Apparently, the channel, which is broadcast from Dubai and is being pumped with Saudi money, depend in its reports from Morocco on ticking the preconceptions found in the imagination of Gulf Arabs. In these reports, Moroccan women are pictured as lenient and immersed in lust, sexual pleasures and magic rituals aimed at stealing both the minds and money of Gulf Arab men. At any rate, no one can deny that unemployment, poverty and materialism has forced a lot of girls into prostitution as a solution, either to make a living or because of their naivety, mixed with some greed, to grab a rich husband and a better future.

Xoussef, also from Morocco, agreed that Morocco is unfairly treated by many from the Gulf, and defended his country, saying:

But it's ok. Part of it is true of course, we are no angels, we have a lot of problems. Maybe we are corrupted by their standards, but not much more than others. We just don't try to hide things, we don't try anymore to look perfect.

Morocco is the only country in the region giving journalists that freedom (Apart from Lebanon Maybe, they got through that years ago i think). If a journalist tried to do the same in Egypt, Tunisia or Syria, he will be soon sued for “tarnishing the image of the country” or some equivalent, put in jail or deported. In the most open countries he will get some trouble to continue work. In Morocco you can reveal all you want, the most sordid stories and no one would “officially” blame you, as long as you keep your distance from certain red lines. We have the freedom to talk about our problems out and loud, this is a good thing. If it makes them think we all are infected with AIDS or are pedophiles, prostitutes or whatever, it's ok, as long as it permits us to deal with these issues. It's healthy to talk about problems because this is how we can fix them, hiding things wont make them disappear. This is new, so we have to bear the side effects of this “freedom”. They will get tired from Morocco sooner or later, and then they will find an another prey, as long as it's not in the Gulf of course. May be Pakistan is next.

In the comments, Bill Day (an American who blogs about Morocco) commended Morocco as well:

As a non-Muslim and non-Arab, my opinion may not count for much in this context, but I find Moroccan openness, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism far more appealing than Saudi Arabia's sterile puritanism. Morocco may not be rich in oil, but it is rich in culture.

Myrtus is also frustrated by the treatment of Moroccans:

Lately it seems like Moroccans as a nation are increasingly experiencing a somewhat deflated sense of self, and quite frankly getting a bit ticked off at the constant personal attacks coming at them from all directions. So I find myself wondering why this is happening and what can be done to boost self-esteem.

Telquel cover

The text in the image, from the cover of a May 2007 issue of Morocco's TelQuel magazine, reads:

Parties travailler dans les pays du Golfe comme coiffeuses au hôtesses, des milliers de Marocaines se retrouvent séquestrées battues et forcées a se prostituer. Cherchant a s’évader, certaines sont emprisonnées ou même assassinées ! Et le Maroc se tait, au nom de “considérations diplomatiques .” Il est temps de briser cette scandaleuse omerta.

Having left to work in the Gulf countries as hairdressers or hostesses; thousands of Moroccan women are found sequestered, beaten and forced into prostitution. Seeking to escape, some are imprisoned or even assassinated! And Morocco keeps silent, in the name of “diplomatic considerations.” It is time to break this scandalous code of silence.

Of course, there are two sides to every story and what made the original post inflammatory was not the defense of Moroccan women or frustration with their treatment, rather, it was the insults hurled at those from the Gulf. Silly Bahraini Girl took offense to Adilski‘s words:

As a woman, I am hurt by Adilski's generalisations. As an educated Gulf citizen, I am not surprised, for in my career and travels, I have come across those specimens* so many many times, that I know that racism have no boundaries, and nothing is sacred.

*Moroccan prostitutes

, commenting in Silly Bahraini Girl‘s blog says:

Anyway, I get your point that you don't think the problem originated by men buying the merchandise. After all, the supply is there. But fact is. It's like any business based no supply and demand. And that demand (and the buying power) is there in the gulf

A larger issue is with the wonderful women from the gulf who end up marrying to one of those guys after he contracts a million STD and all her decency and virtue will not protect her from contracting what he's got!

A final comment from xoussef, also made in the blog of Silly Bahraini Girl, shows that both sides might very well be responsible:

I fully agree with you, but i also understand his anger. It hurts so much to be treated like that, so it's exactly the kind of superficial and epidermic reaction you can expect from both parts. Look what was your reaction to a single post, and imagine what would it be if it was systematic.

That aside, as long as people are adult and consenting, i think they should be free to do whatever they want in private. But If you blame Moroccan women in golf states for being prostitutes or hunting for rich husbands, you should also blame Khaleeji (Gulf) men willing to pay for sex and to take second and third wives. There is no supply without demand.

Image Credit: TelQuel Magazine


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