Saturday, January 18, 2014

معنى أن تكون أسودَ في مغرب اليوم On Being a Black Moroccan

Here is a piece from Al-Monitor that originally appeared in Arabic in  Al-Safir. Its an imporant  discussion of Moroccan racism ( not just against sub-saharan "African" immigrants, but against Moroccans with dark-skin). We Shall Overcome

The question of race in Morocco

by Mohammad Benaziz , translated by Rani Geha
In the summer 2013, Moroccan newspapers published a sign posted on the wall of a residential building in Casablanca that said, “It is strictly prohibited to rent to Africans and unmarried persons. [Signed]: The general assembly of the building’s residents.”
The declaration sparked a wave of disapproval and condemnation of anti-African racism. The event revealed the country’s well-established racist behavior, a microcosm of which was represented in that building. The most recent example of racism was when Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood MP Al-Muqri Abu Zaid told the Saudis in Jeddah about “well-known traders of an inferior race,” referring to the tribes of Sous, in Agadir, Morocco.
The story spread and triggered a wave of anger. Abu Zaid denied being racist, yet as the campaign by Amazigh groups against him intensified, he issued an apology. The issue apparently ended with the apology. It’s like the story of the young man who collected all the cruel jokes against his father in a book and burned it. But the jokes didn’t die, because they represent real feelings.
There are jokes about the fear of having a black baby, about black smell, and about women using a harmful, cheap face cream that whitens the skin. The lyrics of one song say something along the lines of, “Put the henna [skin dye that is dark] aside, you are white, and that’s better.”
These utterances about race and skin color are very common in sport stadiums during football games between teams from Casablanca, Agadir and the countryside. In those stadiums, nationalism is reduced to repugnant regionalism and reveals that the people can be divided into 20 separate parts. That’s one world, and what’s happening in Moroccan areas near Mauritania is another. Over there, a contagion is hard at work.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Three Moroccan Writers Nominated for the Arab Booker Prize

Here is an article from  Sharq Al-Awsat on the nominees for the Arab  Booker Prize , an international prize for Arbic fiction. Three of the 16 authors are from Morocco and they are: Youssef Fadel, Ismail Ghazali, and Abdelrahim Lahbibi .

International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist announced

Sixteen writers from 10 countries included on this year's longlist for the prestigious prize

Among the well-known names are the Syrian novelist Khaled Khalifa for his No Knives in this City’s Kitchen, which was awarded the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in December 2013. Also on the list are the Egyptian Ibrahim Abdelmeguid for hisClouds Over Alexandria, and twice-longlisted Waciny Laredj for hisAshes of the East: The Wolf Who Grew up in the Wilderness.London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), also known as the Arabic Booker Prize, announced its longlist of 16 writers on Tuesday, featuring works from 10 different Arab countries.

Four of those selected this year have made it onto the shortlist in the past. These include the Sudanese writer Amir Tag Elsir, Iraqi Inaam Kachachi, Palestinian–Jordanian Ibrahim Nasrallah and Khaled Khalifa.

In a remarkable shift from previous years, the 2014 longlist features two crime novels, Ahmed Mourad’s whodunit bestsellerThe Blue Elephant, as well as Frankenstein in Baghdad by the Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi.

Morocco, Iraq and Egypt took the lion’s share of this year’s longlist, with three nominations each. For the second year in a row, Kuwaiti authors have made it onto the longlist, following the well-received success of Saud Alsanousi in winning last year’s IPAF prize with The Bamboo Stalk, a work that deals with the question of identity and the controversial phenomenon of foreign workers in Kuwait.