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Morocco: To Valentine or Not to Valentine?

In Morocco, as in many countries, celebrating Valentine's Day has caught on as a modern expression of love.  In major cities, storefronts stock candy hearts and teddy bears, but, as blogger Robin du Blog points out, the Moroccan media doesn't always encourage the celebration.  In a post entitled “La Saint-Valentin Halal,” the blogger writes:

[Au Maroc] un simple bécot peut toujours les mener droit au panier à salade mais, marketing oblige, des jours durant, à l'approche du 14, sur les vitrines, des cœurs rouges virevoltent et flamboient à l'unisson. Alors, parce que cette date s'est inscrite dans le calendrier et que l'on est à l'affût des événements sur lesquels faire réagir les auditeurs, la Saint-Valentin a pris également sa place dans les programmes radiophoniques. Au petit déjeuner du 14, donc, dans le cadre d'une de ces émissions interactives lors desquelles les auditeurs sont invités à téléphoner pour faire connaître leur point de vue sur l'un ou l'autre des sujets traités, l'animatrice d'une des radios locales les plus écoutées lance celui du jour : l'amour, on l'aura compris. Mais alors, tout en rappelant qu'on est à la Saint-Valentin et que la Saint-Valentin est la fête des amoureux, ne voilà-t-il pas qu'elle nous livre en préambule une superbe tirade où elle nous dit ceci : 1/ la source de l'amour ne serait autre que l'amour porté à Dieu ; 2/ il n'est pas de plus bel exemple en matière d'amour profane que celui de l'engagement affectif du Prophète à l'égard de Khadija, sa première femme ; 3/ c'est de ce modèle que les amoureux – amoureux légaux dûment unis par la charia, at-elle bien pris soin de préciser – devraient avoir la bonne idée de s'inspirer.

[In Morocco] a simple peck can still lead straight to the paddy wagon, but marketing forces these days, with their approach of the 14th on windows, hearts and flaming red twirl in unison. Then, because this date is included on the calendar and we are abreast of the events on which listeners should respond, Valentine's Day also took place on radio programs. At breakfast on the 14th, therefore, in the context of these interactive programs in which listeners are invited to call to make known their views on various topics, the host of a local radio's most popular launches of the day: love, we will understand. But then, recalling that is Valentine's Day and Valentine's Day is for lovers, lo and behold, she gives us no preamble in a superb tirade where she says this: 1) the source of love is none other than the source of God; 2) there is no finer example in matters of love than the emotional commitment of the Prophet with regard to Khadija, his first wife, 3) that is the model that lovers – lovers united by due legal Sharia, she was careful to state – should have the good sense to follow.

The blogger continues explaining the discussion on the radio show and the implications of the imported Valentine's Day in Morocco, concluding: “L’amour, c’est l’amour, point. Qu’on nous laisse, ne serait-ce que l’espace d’un jour, le concevoir libre de toute barrière” (“Love is love, period.  Let us leave, if only in the space of one day, this idea free from any barriers”).

Peace Corps Volunteer oclynn in morocco expresses surprise at the recognition of the holiday at her post in a rural part of the country:

So I decide to go down to the Coop this morning, a little later than usual-didn’t really have any specific business to do, but had told Zahra that I’d come by. Glad I did. She greets me with questions about today’s holiday. Huh? You know, the American Holiday today. Huh? Geez, I just found out yesterday that it’s President’s Day Weekend on Skype w/Jo, but why would Zahra know about that? Then she’s asking, isn’t there a holiday of the heart today? OHHH. Valentine’s Day. Yes! Duh, Lynn. She’s wishing you Happy Valentine’s Day! Thanks! Mind you, this is a Coop of all unmarried women. I didn't give any other description of the holiday. Decided I like the idea of a Holiday of the Heart.

Some Moroccan bloggers are heavy into the holiday.  L'Cassetta, a music blog, offers a cornucopia of romantic music from around the globe, saying:

Que vaut l’amour sans la musique ? Que vaut le fait d'aimer si pendant cette sensation on ne prend pas gout dans l'accompagnement vers la jouissance musicale ? Que vaut le fait de dire que la musique est bonne quand on n'a pas un jour vécu la souffrance qui émane des mots, des paroles ; des notes ? On a toujours dans la tête une de ses chansons slow, cette superbe chanson qui mélange bonne mélodie et paroles bien ciselés. Aimer donc n'est qu'entre autres le fait d'accompagner le bonheur a coté de la souffrance.

What is love without music? What is the act of love if while loving one doesn't take pleasure in the very process that leads to music enjoyment? What's the point of pretending that music is good when one's never experienced the pain that might erase from words and notes? We always remember those romantic songs; the kind of beautiful songs that mix good melody and well-crafted lyrics. Therefore love, among other things, helps to deal with feelings of well being as well as sorrows.

Last but not least, need a place to celebrate Valentine's Day 2010? Casawaves just might have the answer. Poking fun at the oft-made comparison of the film Casablanca to Morocco's largest city of the same name (the two, in reality, have little in common), the blogger writes:

Pour la Saint-Valentin, « pourquoi ne pas déclarer votre flamme en 2010 à Casablanca au Maroc. En effet pour un voyage en amoureux à la Saint-Valentin 2010, cette ville offre un incroyable dépaysement ».

Au début, en lisant cette offre publiée sur un site d’actualité internet j’ai cru à une farce, voire à un poisson d’avril légèrement précoce. Mais non, il s’agit bien de fêter la Saint-Valentin dans notre métropole.

For Valentine's Day, why not declare your love in 2010 in Casablanca, Morocco? Indeed for a trip to a romantic Valentine's Day 2010, this city offers incredible scenery.

At first, reading this offer posted on an Internet news site I thought it was a joke, even an April Fool's joke slightly early. But no, it is good to celebrate Valentine's Day in our city.

3 comments

  • […] many blogging communities and has been well-covered on Global Voices. In Morocco one media pundit insists that “there is no finer example in matters of love than the emotional commitment of the […]

  • Since when does a simple bise lead to the paddy wagon in Morocco? Even in the most conservative areas, it takes rather more than that to get the police to take action. Bloody Froggies.

  • Manus McMnus

    I do not know how is Morocco today, but in my days we got away with far more than “une bise”. It was more like the full monthy.

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