Morocco: The Blogoma's Journey Continues

Blogging has come a long way in Morocco. I remember when I published my first blog post, I was the only Moroccan blogger in my college. A few years later, and we have a totally different scene – a blogosphere which has grown rapidly. Here's a review of the Blogoma – the bloggers’ very own name for Morocco's thriving blogging scene.

evolution-of-internet-in-moroccoAccording to the Moroccan National Telecom Agency ANRT, there are more than 800,000 Moroccans connected directly to the Internet. This number has been growing steadily due to the lower costs of computers and internet connections. Indeed, the community of internet users is estimated up to 4,000,000 people because of the numerous cyber cafés in the country.

There were not that many bloggers just a few years ago. Today, their number is estimated at about 30,000 to 40,000 bloggers according to Moroccan blogger Larbi. All topics are covered from politics to arts, to daily life and fashion, music and sports.

The Moroccan blogosphere also has its own name – the Blogoma. According to Le magazine des blogs et du web au Maroc:

a contraction de blogosphère marocaine. Le terme a été avancé pour la première fois en 2004, pour faire allusion à la naissante communauté de bloggeurs au Maroc.
La blogosphére marocaine est l'une des communautés les plus évolutives dans la région du Maghreb et a pu à plusieurs reprises afficher des positions fermes vis à vis de l'actualité nationale et internationale. Les bloggeurs marocains se réunissent réguliérement sous forme de blog meeting et blog days.

It's a contraction between Blogosphere and Marocaine (Moroccan). This term has been introduced for the first time in 2004 to refer to the birth of bloggers community in Morocco.
The Moroccan blogosphere is one of the most evolving communities in the Maghreb region. It has shown firm and steady positions towards national and international current affairs. Moroccan bloggers meet regularly through blog meetings and blog days.

The aggregator Berberus, attempted a study about Maghrebi blogs with Google Page Ranks (PR) superior than PR = 4. The study, which was made last January and is available here, shows a good presence of Moroccan blogs. Among the top ranked blogs, it names are:

l’excellent blog du journaliste Algérien Allaoua Hadji au côté de Laila Lalami et des deux blogs tunisiens (censurés dans leurs pays) et Le blog de Lameen Souag ayant hélas perdu un point.

the excellent blog of Algerian journalist Allaoua Hadji next to Laila Lalami[a Moroccan author] and the two censored Tunisian blogs and The blog of [Algerian linguist] Lameen Souag has lost one rank.

As mentioned earlier, many topics are covered by the Blogoma. Its bloggers are of varied profiles too. You can read blogs written by bloggers of various ages. Citoyen Hmida, for example, is run by a retired bank employee; and Adamito by a young college student (high school student at the time he started it). This blogger has also started an innovative and collaborative education platform called The most known blog if not the most famous is undoubtedly Larbi, by a young consultant residing in France. He analyses actual news from  Morocco and France and offers his opinion with much humor.

Many languages are used in the Moroccan blogs. If French was the most significant one used, there are now more blogs written in Arabic and in English. Indeed, some blogs are capitalizing on the lack of Moroccan Arabic-speaking blogs and have declared that their purpose is to promote the use of Arabic while blogging. For example, the blog named Bla faransiyya, Without French, goes even further and explains:

بلا فرنسية! مدونة مغربية جماعية تهدف إلى لفت الإنتباه إلى موضوع الإستقلال اللغوي الذي هو سبيل التنمية. بلا فرنسية! ليست شعارا عنصريا، و إنما مطالبة بتخلي ادارة وشركات وإعلام المغرب عن استعمال اللغة الأجنبية في خدمة ومخاطبة المواطن المغربي وتعميم استعمال اللغة الوطنية في الحياة العامة وفي التعليم
Without French is a Moroccan blog aimed at consciousness raising about linguistic independence. Without French is not a racist motto but a request towards public services, companies and media in Morocco to stop using foreign languages and use our national language in servicing and addressing Moroccan citizens in daily life and in education

Morocco's English-speaking blogs are growing too. Eatbees is one of the blogs writing regularly on Morocco while Al Miraat, which I discovered for the first time through a tasty post about Couscous, Tagine and Democracy, are bothe written in English. A recent project launched by some bloggers started the Maghreb politics Review which:

is a multi-author weblog about the politics of North Africa in an international relations context … The idea here is to shed brighter and broader light onto North Africa in English-speaking quarters, where the region is too often forgotten in conversation about the Muslim and Arab worlds, Mediterranean and broader Middle East. While the Maghreb figures more frequently into Francophone conversation, where there is much of value to be found, MPR hopes to serve to raise the quality of the discourse on and analysis of the region in English.

The Blogoma is rich. It's a community which is growing rapidly and which has a wide range of profiles. But does it have any impact on Moroccans ? It is hard to say in a country where illiteracy is still high. Citizen media in general is not well developed, not as much as mainstream media such as television and newspapers. It had its moments of glory though when a video shooter who called himself, The hunter from Targuist, videotaped policemen getting bribed by drivers and truck drivers. The videos are available on YouTube here and here. Thanks to this video, six policemen were fired from their jobs.

For the moment, the Blogoma is more like an intimate journal. Citoyen Hmida says:

“On y réagit plus qu’on y réfléchit”

“We react more than we think.”

And a majority of bloggers seem to agree that the Blogoma needs some time to mature. Tarik Essaâdi, author of “E-Citizen” told the magazine Tel Quel:

La blogoma se porte bien en nombre, mais souffre d’une crise d’identité. On ne sait pas bien ce qu’on veut.

The Blogoma is well in numbers, but suffers from an identity crisis. We do not know what we want.

He also stated to the same magazine that the Blogoma needs more commitment as it's the case in Algeria and Tunisia. This is a statement which may have to be revised because of the mobilization shown by the Blogoma during latest cases of Fouad Mourtada, Erraji and the Barça fan.

Meanwhile, the Blogoma's journey continues.


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