culture

Why Is Banning “Much Loved” The Best Thing Ayouch Could Have Hoped For?

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Amidst heated debate, the ministry of communication has decided to stand on the side of the critics of “Much Loved” and ban the screening of the movie in Moroccan theaters. Ayouch said he was “shocked” to receive the news, but he should probably be happy as the ministry did him a huge favor.

Apparently, universally acknowledged truths exceed a man’s want for a wife to a want for anything that is banned. Human history is rich in examples that illustrate this claim. For instance, the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. during the 1920’s did the country more harm than good. On the other hand, legalizing Marijuana in the Netherlands has been proved to be a healthier choice.

Therefore, banning the screening of “Much Loved” is the most powerful and effective advertising campaign Ayouch could have dreamt of. This ban will certainly generate unprecedented interest in the movie and widen the circle of debate to larger scales. It will also make people even more excited to watch “the movie that scared the ministry!” especially that the ban isn’t based on solid grounds and many people think it was just a response to the public outroar.

Furthermore, it is inevitable that people will find ways to watch the movie just the way they managed to watch banned movies and read censored books before. The highly-wired world we live in, and the accessibility to different media outlets make it really challenging for governments to conceal information, unless North Korea is a role model that we’re looking up to!

Worrying when you put that way, right? But what’s even more worrying is that the ministry decided to ban a movie that they had allowed to be made and filmed in Morocco and with a (mostly) Moroccan team! So, to think that all of these points have gone unnoticed by the ministry leaves much room for interpretation… and WORRY!

Thus, due to this “banertisement,” Ayouch has now become the most famous movie director in Morocco. The ministry has now given him something to brag about and present himself in the image of the liberating hero of Moroccan cinema. In fact, many Moroccans with libertarian mindsets think of him as a hero who should be celebrated. To these people’s joy, Ayouch’s film was invited to premiere at the acclaimed Cannes festival in France. This event didn’t go unnoticed as many of the movie’s supporters interpreted it as a triumph of art and freedom of speech over oppression.

So, Ayouch has now become a renowned director at an international level thanks to a) his gift as a director, and b) the ministry’s gift of baning his movie.

In short, if the ministry is afraid the movie would give a bad image about Moroccans, the ban isn’t going to help alter that image, either. So, instead of thinking of Morocco as a country with many prostitutes, foreigners would now think of Morocco as an oppressive country that doesn’t tolerate freedom of speech and arts. sounds better now? Naah, it’s a lost war!

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Reading Several Books At Once.

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STUCK!

“Stuck” is the word to use when all you can do to face your inability to cope with your several readings is goggle your eyes. Books of different shapes and languages are scattered around you, and they only accentuate your dilemmas about what to resume reading first. Is it this book in French by that very prominent sociologist, or is it this one in Arabic by this great Egyptian novelist, or maybe you should continue reading either one of those three English novels you started last week…

A Stuck Reader

Finally, you make up your mind and grab either one of those books. However, somehow, the words get blurry and the characters start jumping from one book into the other as if they were circus artists doing amazing confusing stunts! 

You might still want to focus. You’d probably start pondering about the merits of every book and author at hand for some minutes to make a final decision. But if you’re like me, you’d most probably just grab the remote and watch Mr. Bean, instead.

Is this really your idea of enjoying reading? If your answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing, and stop reading this post right now… NOW, I said. If your answer is no, then what follows might be helpful.

Hereafter are some pieces of advice you might want to consider:

                • Do not read several books at once:

Yes. I think that for people like myself, we just cannot commit to this kind of relationships. So my advice to you is to take it slow. One book at a time shall do you good.

What we need to understand is that we’re different, and so are our abilities. Reading several books at the same time is not a healthy practice for some people. Some others can do this but some others can’t. This doesn’t imply that my breed are stupid, or that people who can read many books at once are smarter, it just means that we have different skills and intelligences. So, don’t feel bad about it.

(What?… I heard that! And no, I’m not just comforting myself?)

After all, the only good thing about being able to read different books at once is that you can switch books if you get tired or bored. However, the cons of this practice outweigh this single advantage.

  • Do not mix languages:

If you’re going to read many books. Like, if you really really have to, make sure that they’re in the same language. Reading books in different languages at the same time is confusing, especially if you’re a fast reader in some language(s) but a slow reader in other language(s). You’ll make much more progress reading in the language(s) your fluent in, while you’d be lagging behind in the other language(s), which might stir some dissatisfaction and might, in some cases, lead to low self-esteem, depression and then, suicide. Just kidding, but you got the point!

  • Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it:

Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Choose the time of the day that fits you best and plan your readings accordingly. Some people prefer to read at nights, other people prefer to read upon waking up. Don’t forget to make use of your free time and weekends, too.

  • Prioritize:

Some things in life are more important than others, so are books. Start with the book which you have a strong and fresh desire to read, when you get tired of it, try the next book you’re looking forward to read. You should always have interest in what’s between your hands, otherwise, the reading experience would be ruined.

  •  “Prioritize” doesn’t mean ignore:

 If you leave a book for too long, you’d probably forget everything about it. Picking it up again would be kind of meaningless. Hence, if you feel that one of the books your reading isn’t as interesting as the others, leave it for another reading set, or just drop it altogether, but don’t feel compelled to finish it. This will only increase your anxiousness, and we don’t want that, do we? DO WE?

  • Use a timeline:

A notepad and a pencil would be very helpful. Track down the ideas, characters and events of the book. You can add your feelings, expectations and questions about the book. It’s also important to make sure to read your notes every time you want to resume reading, it’ll freshen up your memory and put you in the right mood for that particular reading.

  •  Read (a) whole chapter(s) every time:

Don’t stop in the middle of a chapter. If you do, you’d probably be lost when you resume reading. Think of this as watching a series, what would you rather do, stop watching at the end of the episode and wait for the new one, or stop in the middle of the current one?…There you go!

  • Real readers love challenges:

Eat you broccoli, finish your dish! If you start several books and don’t manage to complete anyone of them, the effect will be very counterproductive. So, go on and finish your books, at least some of them. The feeling is really satisfying, believe me. Remember that if you don’t, you’ll probably have a very low self-esteem, depression and might commit suicide. Just kidding again, but you got the point!

  • Join Goodreads.com

Goodreads is a great reading carrefour. People write reviews and send updates about their readings. You can set up an annual goal and work on achieving it. A little competition would never hurt.

This, dear bookworms, is what I can think of for the moment. I’m sure you can have many other ideas on how to accomplish this task. So, please feel free to share them in the comment section. 

Happy reading, everyone!

“Orientalism;” An Ongoing Discussion

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If there is anything I appreciate about the Internet it’s its power to eliminate distances. Fortunately, I could make use of this powerful treat offered by the Internet in one of my most valuable experiences. This unique experience is nothing but my amazing ongoing discussion of Edward Said‘s “Orientalism” with my American friend.

Edward Said

Even though we live in totally different places, my friend and I communicate on a daily basis and we always manage to discuss different stimulating topics. So we thought of taking our discussions to the next level and read a book together. Thus, I chose Edward Said’s “Orientalism.” This choice was partly because I’ve always heard of it and wanted to read it, and partly because I knew it contained very interesting and debatable topics that both my friend and I would enjoy.

Ok let’s face it, the writing style is obtuse. Also, It takes some knowledge in different fields to be able to fully understand Said’s words. He can hover over a variety of topics such as history, politics, culture, media, anthropology, literature, epistemology, etc. in one or two pages. Furthermore, sometimes, I feel as if Said takes it for granted that the reader is acquainted with some references and allusions, which can be an additional burden on the shoulder of the non-specialized reader.

On the other hand, what my friend and I are enjoying about this book is the fruits of our discussions. You can think of Orientalism as a “discussion stimulator,” and a thought-provoking starting point to our in-depth talks. Therefore, we always end up with very interesting discussions that help us better our understanding of the American as well as the Arab mindsets.

Our talks make us view issues from different perspectives. Therefore, many of our lingering questions have finally been answered. Many assumptions have been altered, and many fallacies corrected. Thus, I’m now starting to see how Americans REALLY view us, and vice versa.  I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have learnt more about America and Americans since I started reading and discussing this book than I had done in my entire life. My friend, too, made it clear that she has come see things from a different angle and from a fresh perspective, and that she has learnt a lot as well.

I think that what we appreciate about this ongoing discussion is that we both accept each other’s opinions and points of view no matter how distant our stands are. No one is claiming that their way of looking at things is the best, and no one is ridiculing the other’s views or opinions. It’s a friendly discussion with a special interest in mutual understanding.

I wish we all opted for dialog instead of surrendering to preconceived ideas and stereotypical views of the other. I think a lot of the world’s tragedies would have been avoided had those in power resorted to dialog. However, I believe that hope will still be glowing at the end of the tunnel as long as there are people willing to talk, discuss and open their minds.

Free Hugs at the Train Station? Is Morocco Becoming Americanized?

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Morocco has a long tradition of following the French example in virtually everything. Nearly every major sector is either run by French people or is following the French standards. However, I’ve come to notice that our society has been through a major shift in the past decade, more and more Moroccans choose to learn and speak English instead of French, more American centers, American schools and British Council offices have been opening their doors to the public in big cities, and more work opportunities that require English speaking staff have been opening up.

One of the events that made me want to write about this topic was the surprise I had when I saw a group of teenagers offering “FREE HUGS” at the Rabat Ville train station a couple of weeks ago. I accepted a hug and with it accepted tons of questions. How come things I only see on Youtube are taking place here in Morocco? Is it happening in some cities only, or is it taking place everywhere? And more importantly what does the general public think of these imported phenomena?

 It is known that French traditions are deeply rooted in the Moroccan society, French is the language of the elite, it is the language used in higher education and in the workplace. Nevertheless, the current changes seem to be imposing English on the Moroccan market. Thus, more companies are now recruiting English-speaking university graduates, the demand on English is rising and French is facing a doubtful future in Morocco. Professor Hassan Bouzidi Foresaw this change in his 1998 article “French Is No Longer de Rigueur” where he gave reasons for why English is sweeping French dominance in Morocco. I assume it is also known that language and culture go hand in hand; wherever a  language is spoken, its culture dominates. Hence, French is facing a double threat, the first is constituted by giving up its status of the first foreign language in Morocco, and the second is represented by giving the floor to American culture to gain ground in Morocco and North Africa, a place that has always followed the French tradition in all aspects.

However, many people still think that French will reconquer Morocco. They think of English as a temporary and fashionable thing, just a linguistic “fling”. These usually are the people who always believed French was superior to other languages and people who never thought French would be substituted by a different foreign language. Nevertheless, I think that this is just an attempt to hide their frustration. All the hopes they put on French are being swept away by the English tsunami, and it’s just too hard to admit.

Morocco has become an appealing place for English language teachers from the US and the UK.

It is therefore apparent that the French language and culture could not keep up with the overwhelming invasion of their American and British counterparts. We can now witness the presence of signs of Americanization everywhere in Morocco. We now have malls in the American style, fast food restaurants are showing up like mushroom,  Globalization has made it mandatory for everyone in the world to get in touch with the American culture. Business,  Internet, Hollywood and media have been highly influential in this process. But, hey, isn’t Morocco an Arab-Amazigh nation after all?

Yes, it is. And in this regard, many Moroccans lament how we’re shifting from French, a language and culture that represent the colonialists, to English, a language and culture that represent the “oppressor”, whereas our mother tongues (Arabic and Berber) are being forgotten and disrespected. Some say it’s done on purpose, whereas others blame the society itself for this situation. “What do we produce? Where do we stand? What added value do we offer?…Nothing! So why would we go crazy about the situation of our mother tongues when we don’t do anything to honor them?”  Some people wonder.

All in all, I think that a legacy of more than a century won’t disappear overnight. In front of the lack of interest in our mother tongues, French and the French culture are still keeping a tight grip on the neck of Morocco and Moroccans. However, the change is undeniable. It started with Hip-Hop music, it’s moved to Free Hugs and Flash Mobs, and I’m quite positive it will end with more implication of English in our everyday lives, academia, business and even government.

Why is Education Tomorrow’s Wealth?

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In case you’re having any doubts, a quick look at all the places where poverty has a powerful hold will eventually make it clear that poverty and illiteracy are inseparable. Actually, illiteracy is poverty’s stronghold and faithful realm where all kinds of indecency, crimes and even terrorism flourish. Therefore, governments, especially in third world countries, must stop looking for “lame” excuses to justify the high illiteracy  and low college graduates rates in their countries. Third world countries must be ready for effective and ferocious wars on ignorance, instead.

Why should I pursue higher education?

Honestly, convincing people that education creates fortune is one of the hardest endeavors one can attempt to take. The fact that there is usually a huge gap between the level of education of the workforce and their paychecks makes it difficult to be convincing. Therefore, many people might end up questioning the purpose behind education and might ask: “Why bother to get a decent education when I can start a career at a young age and earn money?”

Actually, I get this a lot. As a teacher, many of my students question the necessity of education. They usually ask the following questions: “Our neighbor never went to school and he’s well-off, so why should I get good grades? Why should I study hard? Why should I get an education in the first place?”

In my defense, I tell my students that there might be rich people who have never been to school, but: “Can those people use a computer? Can they speak different languages to interact with people from different cultures and different parts of the world? Can they write and/or read a letter? Can they use a smartphone? Can they enjoy a foreign movie or song? Can they think critically about their lives and the world around them? Can they enjoy reading books?”

Of course, my students’  answer to all of these questions is a shy “No.” This is usually how I lay the ground to my subsequent explanation which I am willing to share with you all in this post.

How does education create fortune?

Technology has nowadays shifted how we see and interact with the world. The Internet, Capitalism and Globalization have altered what corporations seek in their employees to a big extent. In other words, muscles won’t secure you a good position, skills will. Therefore, it’s become indispensable for everyone to seek higher education, learn languages and have great computing skills. The market no longer tolerates incompetence, especially during the current international financial crisis. Positions have become a rarity, and competition has become fiercer than ever.

Looking at the issue from a different perspective, one can see that education plays a key role in broadening people’s intellectual horizons, empowering them (especially women), and improving their standards of living. Furthermore, education is the answer to many of our social problems in third world countries. For example, countries that have the best educational systems (Japan for example) have the lowest domestic violence rates, coincidence?

Moreover, education is undoubtedly the real renewable resource that nations should focus on for a brighter future for their nations.  This is what the Japanese did, and it paid off really well!

So, back to the main question now, “How does education create fortune?”

Below is a list of points that might answer this question:

  • People with a college degree have better chances to land in better positions and earn more money than people with no education.
  • A better position doesn’t mean more earnings only, but social security and health insurance as well.
  • Higher education is still free in Morocco, so students won’t have to shoulder the burden of refunding huge student loans.
  • Moroccan universities have started many professional B.As and M.As and started offering management classes even for literary studies’ students.
  • People with college degrees enjoy more opportunities for ongoing professional development.

For more details check this link: “Education Pays, The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society

But education costs a lot!

“We’re doing our best but education costs a lot.” This is a typical excuse given by many governments to justify the decay in their educational systems. This, of course, is one of the excuses that no one should accept, anymore. The primary reason we shouldn’t accept this excuse is because it’s FALSE! It just needs a government with long-term visions to understand that education  will eventually cost a lot LESS than ignorance.

Building schools, hiring competent teachers, preparing adequate infrastructures will inevitably cost considerable amounts of money. Nonetheless, the fruits will quickly show up and the nation will benefit from investing in minds.  So, no development shall take place unless we’re aware that knowledge and education are tomorrow’s wealth. We shouldn’t expect miracles unless we’re truly willing to get engaged and invest in education. This is the only way to secure a bright future for the society, culture and economy of our nation.