Return of the royal Barbary lion


By Matt Walker

A possible Barbary lion once living in Leipzig Zoo. A royal stud book could help return the majestic Barbary lion to the wild. Conservationists have created a stud book detailing every descendant of a group of lions once owned by the Sultan of Morocco.

These blue-blooded royal lions, all captive, are suspected to be the last Barbary lions in existence. The stud book will help establish a breeding programme, and could also settle a controversy over whether the Barbary lion was a unique subspecies. The Barbary lion is one of the most enigmatic of all large predators, both due to its impressive appearance and uncertainty over its fate. Once numerous across north Africa, the Barbary lion was the most physically distinctive type of lion, including those living elsewhere in Africa and Asia. Now that we have this information, zoos can come together and plan breeding exchanges to avoid inbreeding. It had an extensive mane, and differences in the shape of its head included a more pointed crown and narrow muzzle.

People at the time also talked of it being larger, with different coloured eyes to other lions, though it is unclear whether either difference was real. "Historical records suggest that certain behaviours in Barbary lions were also distinctive, for example, they tended to live in pairs or small family groups rather than the prides familiar in Africa," says Simon Black, of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. The last firm record of a Barbary lion is an animal shot in Morocco in 1927, though there is circumstantial evidence that Barbary lions may have survived in the wild in the Atlas Mountains till 1942. However, even by 1899, the lions were becoming rare in the wild, with those seen most often belonging to the Sultan of Morocco.

In 1912, these lions were moved from an original captive location near the Atlas Mountains to a lion garden at the Royal Palace in Rabat. When the last Sultan was forced to abdicate in 1953, the lions were moved to two zoos, but on his return in 1955, 17 were returned to the Palace. In 1973, their descendants were moved to Rabat zoo at Temara. Later, further examinations suggested that these zoo lions shared the characteristics of Barbary lions. "There is strong circumstantial evidence, therefore, that the animals at Rabat zoo were a relic from the original Barbary lions collected from the wild," says Black. However, the possibility that some Barbary lions survive, and they may be the last remnants of a lost subspecies of lion, has become an extremely marketable concept. "It is not uncommon for zoos to advertise [that they possess a Barbary lion] when there is little or no evidence to back up the fact," Black says. Worse, those lions that are true descendants of the original Moroccan royal lions are in danger of dying out. To prevent this, Black and colleagues Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, Adrian Harland and Jim Groombridge have created a Barbary lion stud book, that identifies the surviving individuals, their locations, their interrelatedness and their line of descent from the original captive Moroccan population as far back as records are known.

The researchers based the stud book on a review of the handwritten zoo records in Rabat kept from 1969 to 1998, plus a detailed review of breeding records across zoos worldwide kept from 1974 onwards. Alongside details of the stud book, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, Black's team also calls for a managed and co-ordinated breeding approach to optimise the overall captive population of Moroccan royal Lions. "Now that we have this information, zoos can come together and plan breeding exchanges to avoid inbreeding, ensure genetic diversity is maintained and with it animal health and population viability," says Black. "In this way, if the opportunity exists to re-establish the population in the future, it is not lost by the lions dying out in captivity now," he says. "Several zoos are still keen to continue breeding the animals.

They deserve the constructive support of the scientific community." Also that will allow time to perform genetic tests on the lions and "buy time" for scientists to further examine evidence to support whether or not these animals are true representatives of the now extinct subspecies, he says.

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Arabs need bargaining power


By Sobhi Ghandour

In their reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech, Palestinians and Arabs have unanimously rejected his conditions for a two-state solution.

In a major political speech, Netanyahu said Israel would accept the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state only if Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The total rejection of Netanyahu's ideas by the Palestinians and Arabs is a start - but it is not enough.

This is simply because there is a question on every Arab's mind: what next?

In its previous sponsorship of negotiations, the US only pressured the Palestinian side to change its stand and make more concessions.

This leads to another question: Are the Palestinians and Arabs going to bet on the United States, as a mediator, being able to convince Netanyahu to change his stance?

It is a fact that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is on US President Barack Obama's list of priorities, which was not the case with the former US administration, which handled the issue by ignoring and sidelining it.

Yet the Obama administration's first and last mission is to serve American interests, which historically oscillate between support for Israel and the US role in the Arab region.

With regard to the US position towards the Arab-Israeli struggle, there are three possibilities.

The first possibility is that there could be a radical change in the American stance and a possible clash with the Israelis. It is wishful thinking that, in this region of the world, the American position could be based only on justice and a people's right to freedom.

In my opinion, support for this perception is unfounded. Such a stance would never become a reality unless it was dictated by US interests.

The second possibility is the exact opposite. There could be no change in the US policy towards Israel. People who subscribe to this view do not take Obama's administration seriously and consider its stand as being unchanged from that of previous administrations.

In other words, they believe Obama will pay temporary attention to the Palestinian plight and then drop the matter as a result of Israeli pressure.

This was the case with former US administrations, which only showed interest in the Palestinian cause in their last year in office, in an attempt to secure a legacy.

The third option is the one that Arab governments and the Palestinian National Authority always take. It is to hope that the US administration becomes an honest mediator and a neutral party, facilitating Arab-Israeli negotiations without taking a stand, and without siding with one party against the other.

In this scenario, the problem lies with the official stance of the Arabs and Palestinians. Asking the US to be neutral means that negotiations will unfold according to the balance of power between the negotiators.

Here one may ask: What cards do the Palestinians and Arabs hold that can tip the scales in their favor?

Israeli is the greatest military power in the Middle East, with air, sea and technological superiority as well as nuclear weapons.

Israel also occupies Arab lands, builds colonies, starts destructive wars and refuses to implement United Nations resolutions related to the Palestinian rights to land, return of refugees, and an independent state.

On the other side, Arabs are divided, and the Palestinian negotiators ceded the advantage under the Oslo Accords by recognizing Israel's right to exist without any Israeli recognition of Palestinian rights.

Furthermore, the Palestinians not only undertook to give up the armed resistance against occupation, but to combat those who refuse to do so.

The negotiating Arab side accepted the divisions in the Arab front and gave up responsibility for the Palestinian cause.

Therefore, if the US is to be fair and neutral, the Palestinians and Arabs must change their three-decade-old method of negotiation.

The negotiating power of the Palestinians and Arabs is not currently strong enough to put pressure on Israel, the Europeans or the Americans. There is an Israeli-American-European plan to stop all forms of armed resistance against the Israeli occupation and to put more pressure on Arab countries to normalize their relations with Israel.

In both cases, Arabs will lose any strong bargaining position and Israel will set conditions while others must make concessions.

What is required to counter this is Palestinian unity on both negotiations and resistance. On the Arab front, the minimum requirement in dealing with Netanyahu's terms and Obama's unclear position would be rejecting any form of recognition of Israel or normalization of ties before the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

It is worth mentioning that the Obama administration may have welcomed Netanyahu's speech as ?an important step forward? in order to win Israel's approval for a two-state solution. This could pave the way for the US administration to call for an international conference.

Negotiations for a peace settlement could commence after Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon sign treaties and establish relations with Israel.

During the peace conference, the US would demand that Israel freeze all colony-building activities and improve the social and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people, as well as support the Palestinian National Authority's role in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

These demands would have to be achieved within a given timeframe, during which the outcomes of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations would be subject to developments on the ground.

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Is Morocco a model for the Muslim world?


By Erik German

In the lottery of arranged marriage, winners and losers sometimes take years to reveal themselves. But one soft-spoken woman seated in a Casablanca women’s shelter said her fortunes were apparent from the start. Soon after her 2003 wedding, her husband made a regular practice of abusing her, said the woman, 27, who asked for safety reasons to go only by her initials, S.H. For six years, S. stuck with her husband, an unemployed textile worker, who insulted her, punched her and, once, smashed a glass on her head, she said.

As the daughter of a poor farmer, she believed she had little choice but to keep suffering. But in the five years since her son was born, the legal landscape in this North African nation has shifted. “Now you can get your rights,” said S., who has filed for divorce and full custody of her son. “All your rights.” The Moroccan parliament cemented these rights with a set of sweeping changes to the country’s family code, or Moudawana, in 2004. The reforms give women the right to divorce and protect them from the traditional practice of repudiation, whereby husbands could dissolve marriages nearly at will. Spurred by a home-grown women’s movement, supported by Morocco’s king and denounced by Islamists, Morocco’s revamped family law has been held up as a model by feminists throughout the Muslim world. But, on the fifth anniversary of the reform, some traditionalists here worry that marriage is under attack — even as feminists insist the revolution has yet to fully deliver on its promise.

“It has really energized reform in countries across the region,” said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, whose book, "Paradise Beneath Her Feet: Women and Reform in the Middle East," is due to be published next year. “Family law is a very sensitive and critical issue around the region and the example from Morocco is being brought to bear in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Iran.” In particular, the million signature campaign currently at the center of Iranian feminists’ efforts to rework their country’s family law was “really inspired by what women in Morocco had accomplished,” Coleman said. Moroccan feminists did gather a million signatures in their push to reform the family code. But activists here say a key to their success was arguing for reform in the vocabulary of Islam, rather than Western feminism. The effort required re-reading Muslim theology and applying its lessons on social justice to the question of gender discrimination. The result was a uniquely Moroccan case for change. “It’s very important that the movement emerged from inside, took its strength from inside,” said Fouzia Assouli, president of the activist group Morocco's Democratic League for Women's Rights. “Morocco shows that you can accede to modernity without contradicting your faith.”

The head of another activist group, Latifa Jbabdi of the Women’s Action Union, described local feminism with a term known to any American who has glanced inside a shirt constructed by her nation’s vast textile industry. Switching mid-sentence to English, she joked, "I would say it’s 'made in Morocco.'" Jbabdi and others say Morocco still falls short in some important areas of women’s rights. Women enjoy fewer rights of inheritance than their husband’s surviving male relatives, and there are contexts where men unfairly retain sole legal authority over their children, she said. “We’ve seen cases of fathers who never their see their child, yet their permission is still needed before the child can get a life-saving surgery,” Jbabdi said. The reformed family code increased the legal age of marriage to 18 from 15. But a small provision in the law allows judges to grant exceptions to the rule. Jbabdi said the loophole has created an alarming resurgence of underage marriage in Morocco’s more conservative, rural areas. “This little window that was opened by Islamists in parliament has become a huge door,” Jbabdi said. However, many Moroccans are concerned that the reforms have gone too far. On March 12, 2000, a coalition of Islamist groups, opposed to the proposed family laws on religious grounds, flooded the streets of Casablanca with a demonstration half a million people strong.

Among the arguments Islamists employed was the notion that all the new rules would cause a spike in divorces and at the same time discourage men from matrimony. Such thinking can still be found in unexpected places — such as the campus of Mohammad V University in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, on a recent sunny afternoon. Amri Nouria, a 23-year-old biology major, said she’s pleased that she can chose whom to marry and when. “But the negative side is that, because of the change in the law, men are afraid of getting married,” Nouria added. “And now there are more unmarried women than married women. It has complicated things a bit.” The Moroccan minister who oversees issues relating women and the family, Nouzha Skalli, dismissed such claims, saying the numbers don't bear them out.

The latest figures released by the Justice Ministry suggest that the number of people filing for marriage registrations actually rose about 30 percent in the four years after the code was changed, to 307,000 from 236,000. The number of divorces, according to the ministry, has stayed relatively flat over the same period, rising to 27,900 from 26,900, or about 3 percent. Skalli was herself a women’s rights activist before being appointed minister of social development, family and solidarity. As for the feminists who want change to come faster, Skalli counseled patience. “It’s very difficult to uproot a culture in five years,” she said. “No problem is going to be solved with the touch of a magic wand.”

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Pssssss, manchoufoukch?



Samedi 30 Mai 2009 : Ce jour là, j’étais avec mes amis chomeurs en train de compter le nombre de fois que le feu rouge de notre quartier s’allumait pendant une journée, quand j’aperçu une fille d’une beauté incroyable, le genre de filles qu’on voit une fois dans sa vie et à qui on n’arrête pas de penser, une de ses filles qu’un
حازق comme moi croise et se dit que c’est un prototype qui a été créé sur mesure, une série limitée inaccessible, fabriquée pour les richards du Maroc qui touchent plus que 5307,00 Dh par mois (NB : Voir dernier rapport du HCP sur la classe moyenne au Maroc).

J’ai tout de suite abandonné mon projet de calcul lumineux pour aller draguer silencieusement cette fille. Cette méthode de drague silencieuse (Télwate) a été créé au Maroc aux débuts des années 2000, elle consiste à suivre une fille dans la rue sans rien faire, s’arrêter quand elle s’arrête (sans rien faire), entrer dans une téléboutique quand elle y rentre (sans rien faire), attendre le bus quand elle l’attend (toujours sans rien faire) jusqu’à ce qu’elle arrive chez elle, puis retourner chez soi sans avoir rien fait. Au Maroc on drague partout.

C’est une méthode scientifique de drague basée sur les statistiques, qui permet de définir le point de départ et d’arrivée de l’objet donc délimiter son champ d’action dans le temps. Le processus prévoit ensuite un ratissage au niveau du champ (Attendage quotidien dans les rues où a eu lieu le suivage), une analyse approfondie pour collecter les données (Demander aux SiMohammeds s’ils la connaissent) puis une interprétation et traitement de ces données (Pssss manchoufoukch, Zine ana nsabén wana n3jén ghir hédri m3aya, Khadija fatima samira achnou smiyték ?…) jusqu’à ce que l’objet en a marre et change de circuit.

Au Maroc on drague tout ce qui bouge. J’ai suivi ma victime pendant 800 mètres , j’étais tout de même concurrencé par une race que je déteste tant, les dragueurs motorisés et les dragueurs tomobilisés. C’est une phase très développée du processus de Télwate caractérisée par l’utilisation de moyens sophistiqués non accessibles aux pêtards (
الحازقين). Après 800 mètres de marche, ma victime s’arrêta devant une pâtisserie, elle entra et alla chercher du pain (détail important), elle retourna chez elle, moi chez mon feu rouge. Fin de la première phase. Je n’ai pas dormi cette nuit, j’ai du raconter mon expérience à une vingtaine de mes amis en soif de ce genre d’histoires, ils étaient là en train de m’écouter avec beaucoup d’intérêt, on était dans la phase de collecte d’informations. Les quelques renseignements que j’ai du leur communiquer (Bombe, cheveux noirs, pantalon serré rouge et haut blanc) m’ont permit tout de même, à l’aide de mes collaborateurs, de constater qu’elle s’appelle Ghita, qu’elle a 20 ans, étudiante à la faculté et habite à 3 rues de chez moi.

Je suis très content, une semaine trop chargée s’annonce pour moi. Au Maroc la drague est une occupation. Le lendemain, il n’était pas question de perdre une seconde, j’ai attendu la supposée Ghita au même feu rouge, 11h47 je l’apercevais en train de venir, je l’ai suivi jusqu’à la pâtisserie, elle a acheté son pain et moi je suis retourné chez mon feu rouge. Les jours qui suivaient étaient tous pareils : Attendage, Suivage puis lâchage : Le bonheur absolu. Chaque soirée je remettais un rapport complet à mon équipe pour analyse des résultats. Au Maroc tout le monde drague. Le jour J arriva, c’était un vendredi, je devais ce jour mettre en évidence toutes mes capacités de dragueur expérimenté (Niveau 2 du Télwate = Zéllal). J’ai passé une longue nuit, d’abord en train d’imaginer avec mes collaborateurs tous les scénarios possibles et ensuite tout seul, chez moi, à rêver de cet instant de « psss manchoufoukch », tant attendu par beaucoup de personnes (dont vous, chers lecteurs :D).

J’avais le track ce jour, je suis sorti à 10h du matin rejoindre mon lieu de prédilection : Feu rouge. Je voulais être bogoss ce jour, je voulais l’impressionner, paraître comme un guawri fhémtini. J’ai donc mis une casquette rouge, chemise blanche et un jean bleu ; comme le drapeau de la France , ghadouuuuuuukh. J’avais tout fait pour me distinguer, du bon parfum GOUCHI , des lunettes BAY-BAN et du gel (même avec la casquette, il faut tout utiliser). La séance d’attendage dura 3 heures, à 13h, j’avais perdu espoir, j’étais énervé démoralisé, elle n’était pas venue. J’ai essayé quand même de jouer la dernière carte, aller l’attendre prés de la pâtisserie.

Je suis parti 3la wé3di w sé3di, je me suis planté à 3 mètres de la pâtisserie, 5 minutes plus tard, le propriétaire de la pâtisserie me rejoins et me dis tout en tapotant sur mon épaule : « Bla matsénna a wéldi ra Ghita dayrine Ksksou lyoum léghda»*.

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Can Morocco Save the Middle East?


By by S. E. Cupp

In Barack Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Egypt, he spoke at great length about the importance of America's role in reaching peace in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The sentiment is no doubt genuine, but it's unclear to many Americans and Muslims alike just how he plans to get there. Whatever road his administration plans to take, it should go through Morocco. While Obama was in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, I was traveling in Casablanca, Marrakech, Rabat and the Western Sahara with the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, meeting with Muslim and Moroccan religious and political leaders, and speaking with average citizens about their expectations of Obama in easing tensions between the West and Muslims abroad.

While it was clear Muslims there have a great respect for Obama, and look to him to advance a foreign policy that benefits the Muslim world, they were also skeptical of his rhetoric, which many considered to be lacking in detail. Dr. Ahmed Abaddi, the Secretary General of the Oulema council and head of the government commission of Islamic scholars for the Rabat region, admitted the issues facing Muslims everywhere are complex and serious. Offering "respect," he said, was symbolic.

The time has come for real leadership and action. Morocco can play a significant role in brokering peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, if Obama is willing to give it a microphone. A progressive Muslim country with both African and European influences, it is strategically located to be a centerpiece of Western-Muslim dialog. King Mohammed VI, at only 46, represents the kind of moderate and progressive world views on which Obama and the Western world should capitalize and promote as a formidable and open-minded new brand of Islam.

Under Mohammed VI, Morocco has become increasingly more democratic. It is a safe haven for religious freedom, the likes of which most Arab countries have never seen. In 2000 he was awarded an honorary degree by George Washington University for his promotion of democracy in Morocco. The King has significantly advanced the causes of women's rights, freedom of the press and the rule of law. In Morocco, women can vote, drive, obtain a divorce, and hold positions of authority, thanks largely to a new family code, the Mudawana, which was initiated by the King. The Mourchidat at the Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania in Rabat are the Islamic world's only female clerics, a program started by the King in 2004 that its director Muhammad Mahfudh calls a "rare experiment in the Muslim world." But most importantly, the King holds unique authority among both Israelis and Palestinians as a credible and honest broker in engaging a dialogue between the two.

As a direct descendent of the Prophet -- along with Jordan's King Abdullah II he is one of only two world leaders in Muhammad's lineage -- he possesses an authenticity within the Muslim world that sets him apart as a fairly unimpeachable conduit of Islam. Because of this lineage, Palestinians trust and respect him, even despite his efforts to promote a more liberal Muslim democracy, which has earned him the condemnation of more radical Islamic fundamentalists. And as an advocate for security in Israel, he's earned the favor of many Jewish leaders who see him as perhaps one of the only moderate Arab leaders who recognize its legitimacy. As Joe Grieboski, president of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy said, "The King has an intimate relationship with Israel, politically, culturally, historically and demographically. His father, King Hassan II, called for Israel to be a part of the Arab League and partners in the peace negotiations. He has Israel's respect." As King he is Commander of the Faithful, but King Mohammed VI has positioned himself as commander of all faiths, and not just Islam, which signals to Christians and Jews (and Morocco itself has a decent population of both) that he is open-minded and a natural conduit between the three faiths. "His position is clear," said Grieboski. "He wants security for Israel and dignity for the Palestinians. If the West focuses on these two principles, as he has, the mission has a useful clarity and direction."

And there are other measures, according to Grieboski, that President Obama could and should take to show -- and not just talk about -- respect for the Islamic world. By installing a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as President George W. Bush did, and making it statutory, he would signal America's ongoing commitment to engaging in useful dialogue, as well as give the US a forum in which to lay forth our own goals. Because King Mohammed VI is the literal embodiment of Islam, and simultaneously promotes a Western and democratic world view, Morocco is uniquely positioned to offer the kind of insight on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that America -- and in particular Barack Obama -- desperately needs. While we should continue to play an integral role in establishing peace in the Middle East, the aid of a third party like Morocco would be invaluable.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both met with Mohammed VI during their terms to gain insight into the Middle East crisis, and Bush in particular relied on Morocco to promote a more democratic and progressive brand of Islam to the rest of the Arab world. When Barack Obama took office, King Mohammed VI wrote him a letter, suggesting the ways in which the president could help to communicate better with the Muslim world. As of yet, there's been no response. After chiding the US on its poor listening skills, to the dismay of many thoughtful leaders before him, it seems the perfect opportunity to seek the advice of someone better qualified than he is to navigate through the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In his speech in Cairo, Obama rightly pointed out that Morocco was the first country to recognize America as an independent nation. Perhaps Obama would be wise to repay the favor, and recognize Morocco as an important delegate in advancing Middle East peace.

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Tribute Video to the 3 Moroccans on Air France Flight 447

Tribute Video to Air France Flight 447 Passengers
by Driss R. Temsamani

In memory of Fouad Haddou, Rajae Tazi Moukha and Ahmed Faouzi, the 3 Moroccan Citizens and all the other passengers on board AF 447 Flight we have launched a tribute site (visit the site).

On June 1st, 2009, Air France Flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro heading to Paris-Charles de Gaulle carrying 216 passengers and 12 crew members. The plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean and all the passengers dies.

May they all rest in peace and may their families have patience and comfort during these difficult moments.

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Moroccans on Barak Obama


Moroccans Love/Hate Affair with Obama
by Anas Alaoui

US President Barack Obama's Cairo address to the Muslim world sparked a blaze of reactions across the region and beyond; not least amongst bloggers from the Maghreb where a fiery of blog posts and instant tweets conveyed a whole spectrum of opinions ranging from outright, full endorsement to deep skepticism and even scorn and mistrust.

Even before Obama's inauguration, and well before he decided which Middle Eastern or North African country he would choose to deliver his so called foreign policy speech in, some Moroccan-Americans lobbied for President Obama to come to Rabat. Some others suggested Casablanca. A website, President Obama to Speak in Morocco, was even set up for that purpose:

[We invite] President Obama to make Morocco the home for his first foreign policy speech abroad.
Morocco is the ideal country to launch a message of peace to the Muslim world.
A peace loving country with a respected voice in the region, Morocco is a long time friend of the United States and would be proud to host President Barack Obama in this historical event.

Eventually, and to the big disappointment of many Moroccan Obama enthusiasts, the American President did not speak in Morocco but preferred - logically, some would argue - Cairo, Egypt.

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Moroccan Americans History


History And State of the Moroccan American Community
By Driss R. Temsamani

Morocco is the closest nation to Europe. Situated on northern tip of Africa. Morocco's population is around 32 Million. The majority of Moroccans are of Berber ancestry. Arabs make up the second largest group, followed by French, Spanish and a small number of black Africans. About 90% of the population is Muslim, trailed by a large Jewish community.

Moroccan history was heavily shaped by Arabic and Jewish influences. The Berbers inhabited the country by the end of the second millennium. During the fifth century, the Phoenicians came to Morocco and build ports along the Atlantic coast. Beginning first Century AD, the Jewish established presence in Morocco after being forced out of Spain and Portugal. Around 46 A.D. Morocco became part of the Roman Empire and later in the late seventh century, the Arabs conquest brought Islam to Morocco. After a long wave tribal war between the Berbers, Almoravids claimed victory. With Morocco united, the Arab Moroccans conquered Spain and remained for 800 years till late 1550, they were known as the Moors. France with a colonization eye on North Africa invaded Algeria in 1830, and in 1912 signed a treaty making Morocco a French protectorate. After World War II, Morocco regained independence from France in 1956.

Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation in 1777. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the Atlantic Ocean. At this time, American envoys tried to obtain protection from European powers, but to no avail. On December 20, 1777, Morocco's Sultan Mohammed III declared that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage.

The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship stands as the U.S.'s oldest non-broken friendship treaty. Negotiated by Thomas Barclay and signed by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1786, it has been in continuous effect since its ratification by Congress in July 1787.[12] Following the re-organization of the U.S. federal government upon the 1787 Constitution, President George Washington wrote a now venerated letter to the Sultan Sidi Mohamed strengthening the ties between the two countries. The United States legation (consulate) in Tangier is the first property the American government ever owned abroad.[13] The building now houses the Tangier American Legation Museum.

Officially documented Moroccan migration to America started in the middle of the twentieth century, but there is evidence that Moroccans were present in the USA even before as part of the European exploration. The first document Moroccan immigrant case was Azemmuri, a Moroccan boat pilot from Azemmour who landed in America before Columbus. It is also documented that Sephardic Moroccan Jews made their way to the United States early in the twentieth century by way of South America then moved to the North entering United States around 1910.

Today, Moroccan Americans are well established in the USA and one of the fastest growing Arab communities after the Lebanese. Official 2007 US polls show the number of Moroccans who live in the United States are over 150,000. Since the polls don't capture the cultural ties between Moroccan Muslims and Jews, my estimate when combining the two communities is around 300,000. Based on continues research conducted by the 361 Degrees Institute, this number continues to grow as the US government grants every year 5,000 green cards to Moroccans to migrated to the United States.

As the number of Moroccan Americans continues to grow, several organizations have flourished in many states where there is a large concentration of members, New York, Texas, Virginia, Florida and California hold over 70% of the community. Surveys have showed that Moroccan Americans in these states are among the most integrated compared to other ethnic groups.

The Moroccan American community's success depends on it’s participation in the political process. By wielding a persuasive voice that can influence policies, Moroccan Americans can assist those that need to enhance their lives and help them achieve their American dream.

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The Moroccan Riviera


Pierre & Vacances voit de plus en plus grand au Maroc
By Mathilde Visseyrias

À l'horizon 2012, le groupe de tourisme prévoit la construction de 3000 maisonset appartements, dont 930 à Marrakech. Son projet, lancé il y a un an, comptera finalement 15000 lits à Marrakech. Premier coup de pioche au premier trimestre 2010, premières ouvertures de résidences en 2012.

Pierre & Vacances se prépare à s'installer au Maroc. «Nous sommes la tortue du tourisme français au Maroc. Mais quelques fois, les lièvres partent les premiers et ils s'essoufflent près du but», a plaisanté Gérard Brémond, président du groupe. Il signait mercredi à l'ambassade du Maroc à Paris un accord de partenariat avec la Caisse des dépôts et de gestion du Maroc qui finance l'essentiel du projet.

Les grandes entreprises françaises du tourisme et de l'hôtellerie (Club Med, Fram, Marmara, Nouvelles Frontières, Jet Tours, Thomas Cook, Look Voyages…) ont déjà tous leur carnet d'adresses. À commencer par Accor, premier groupe hôtelier du pays avec 29 hôtels situés dans treize villes du royaume (soit plus de 4 000 chambres à fin février). Au Maroc depuis 1997, le groupe vient d'inaugurer un Suitehotel à Marrakech. Il vise une quarantaine d'hôtels à l'horizon 2015. Tout juste arrivé, le Groupe Lucien Barrière vient, lui, d'inaugurer son premier hôtel de luxe hors de France à Marrakech. Pourtant, Gérard Brémond estime qu'il a une carte à jouer. «Le concept de résidence de tourisme est pratiquement inexistant au Maroc, explique-t-il.

Il y avait une place à prendre.» Tel qu'il l'avait présenté en avril 2008 avant de conclure un accord avec la Caisse des dépôts et de gestion du Maroc, Pierre & Vacances prévoyait la création de 10 000 lits. Finalement, ce sera 15 000. Ce qui correspond à la construction de 3 000 maisons et appartements (dont 930 à Marrakech).

Pour l'essentiel, il s'agit de résidences de tourisme et de vacances, dont 480 (200 à l'enseigne MGM et 280 Pierre & Vacances). L'endroit, baptisé Oasis Eco Resort, sera situé à dix kilomètres à vol d'oiseau de Marrakech. Sur le même terrain, 450 autres résidences secondaires pourront être achetées en pleine propriété par des particuliers (dont 100 réservées à des seniors). La première phase, qui représente plus de 50 % des capacités à créer, coûtera 220 millions d'euros, dont 100 millions pour la société foncière (dont Pierre & Vacances possède 15 %), et 120 millions pour la Société de promotion immobilière (dont il possède 50 %). Dans un second temps, un autre Oasis Eco Resort devrait voir le jour à Agadir. «Cela peut paraître paradoxal d'avoir un projet ambitieux dans une période aussi troublée et incertaine. C'est dans ces périodes qu'on construit le futur», explique Gérard Brémond.

Selon lui, le groupe fait preuve de «résistance» , même s'il a accentué ses pertes semestrielles. L'été sera crucial. Gérard Brémond compte plus que jamais sur les réservations de dernière minute et des Français plus nombreux à rester en France. Un «plan d'actions» est en marche. Objectif : économiser 10 millions d'euros en 2009-2010, en plus des 10 millions programmés en 2008-2009. Ceci, en augmentant les synergies entre Pierre & Vacances et Center Parcs. Désormais, le groupe s'appellera donc Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs. Ses résidences Pierre & Vacances auront leurs labels en 2010 : Resorts, ou Premium pour les plus haut de gamme, la marque des Résidences MGM ayant vocation à disparaître dans les deux ans.

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The Faces of Others

Radiologist Adds a Human Touch: Photos

JERUSALEM —When Dr. Yehonatan N. Turner began his residency in radiology, he was frustrated that the CT scans he analyzed revealed nothing about the patients behind them — only their internal organs. So to make things personal, he imagined each patient was his father.

The Effects of Including a Patient's Photograph to the Radiographic Examination (RSNA)
But then he had a better idea: attach a photograph of the actual patient to each file.

“I was looking for a way to make each case feel unique and less abstract,” said Dr. Turner, 36, now a third-year resident at Shaare Zedek Medical Center here. “I thought having a photo of the patient would help me relate in a deeper way.”

Dr. Turner’s hunch turned into an unusual medical study. Its preliminary findings, presented in Chicago last December at a conference of the Radiological Society of North America, suggested that when a digital photograph was attached to a patient’s file, radiologists provided longer, more meticulous reports. And they said they felt more connected to the patients, whom they seldom meet face to face.

In the digital age, adding a photo to a file is a simple procedure, and the study’s authors say they hope it becomes a standard procedure — not just for radiologists but also for pathologists and other doctors who rarely have contact with patients.

Radiologists spend most of their working hours in darkened rooms with large, high-resolution computer screens where they read and analyze dozens of scans and X-rays each day.

The process can feel mechanical and detached. But Dr. Jonathan Halevy, the director of Shaare Zedek, says that “when there is a picture, your attitude and approach changes — the human aspect is inserted.”

Important clues to patients’ conditions can sometimes be seen in their faces. Clicking through photos of patients who participated in the study, Dr. Turner pointed to an older man with a bruiselike hematoma around the eyes — a possible sign of brain injury. Paleness or jaundice might indicate various kinds of organ problems.

In the initial study, a group of Shaare Zedek radiologists rotated through three groupings, reviewing more than 300 files of patients who had agreed to have their pictures taken.

In the first group, radiologists received a photo of the patient along with the file; after three months they reviewed the same file, this time without the picture. In the second group, they interpreted the patient’s file without a photo, and three months later were presented with the same file, this time with a photo. A control group interpreted scans without photos.

The researchers found that the radiologists’ reports were significantly more thorough in all cases when a photograph was attached to a patient’s scan. Reports were longer, more recommendations made, summaries usually included and more incidental findings recorded.

In a questionnaire that was also part of the study, the radiologists said that the photos helped them relate better to the patients and that they themselves felt “more like physicians.”

Dr. James H. Thrall, radiologist in chief at Massachusetts General Hospital and chairman of the American College of Radiology, said attaching photos to patient files could prove difficult in the United States. Privacy rules might require patient consent each time a photo was used.

Still, he added in an e-mail message, “if further investigation supports the concept it could be done.”

Dr. Thrall also expressed concern that if patient photos eventually do become part of standard protocol, their effectiveness as a tool for better medicine might dull over time — though he added, “That is just a hypothesis to be tested.”

Dr. Turner cautions that the research is still preliminary and that more study is needed. He is seeking other medical centers to take part in an expanded study.

Such research, he said, might be a way to test theories about facial features and the body. Some practitioners of alternative medicine, for example, say the distances between features can indicate physical conditions.

Dr. Turner was accepted to both film school and medical school, and he was drawn to radiology as the most visual field in medicine. He said his interest in the power of faces was piqued by his reading of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.

He included a quotation from Levinas in his presentation of the research to his American colleagues in Chicago: “Among all the organs of the body, the face is the one which stays most naked. ... In front of the face of the other, silence is impossible.”

Moroccan Americans Part 3

Moroccan Americans Part 2

Moroccan Americans Part 1

Congrutulations! You spoke on Royal Air Maroc and they heard you in Morocco


RAM to offer special pricing to Moroccans living overseas

Mohamed Ameur, ministre délégué chargé de la Communauté marocaine résidant à l'étranger et Driss Benhima, Président du groupe Royal Air Maroc ont signé lundi au siège de la RAM à Casablanca une
importante convention de partenariat portant sur les offres de prix compétitifs et promotionnelles par la compagnie aérienne nationale aux familles des Marocains résidant à l'étranger.

Dear Friends, Congratulations;
Yes we can make Royal Air Maroc do better!

Five weeks after we petitioned his
Majesty King Mohammed VI with an open letter and less than a month after we launched the 361 Degrees Survey on Royal Air Maroc Service with over 1000 Moroccans speaking-Up on RAM, the government noticed and took action.

This is not a fluke or coincidence; It's the result of the new and unique approach the community is taking combined with the New Morocco that is becoming before our eyes!

Our Unique Approach:

As you know, over the years there were numerous complaints made about RAM's services and pricing, but those efforts were always dismissed as the opinions of a few disgruntled customers. This time, we are coordinating everyone’s feedback through scientific methods as well as supporting them with academic research (which will be coming out shortly). The introduction of this new and unique approach is what will make our demands undeniably realistic, objective and result oriented.

The New Morocco:

With that said, no matter how scientific we get in our approach, it takes a government willing to listen to our grievances for us to make progress. I believe the New Morocco is a ready and willing partner when addressed with the right facts and numbers. And this agreement is a clear proof of it.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This announcement is undeniably a good faith effort. It is work in progress and requires our influence for it to turn into a long-term solution. Let’s immediately focus on it through the following steps:

Step 1: Contact Mr Ameur's office and request details on what should the Moroccans residing in the United States expect from this agreement with Royal Air Morocco.

Step 2: Once we get his feedback, we will craft another survey to tabulate everyone's opinion on the relief measures proposed.

Step 3: We will start an Internet countdown on the homepage of the Moroccan American Community Center to see how long it will take RAM to fulfill on its promises.

Last but not least, we will continue our scientific and academic research currently in progress. This research will address the following points:

  • Why does RAM enjoy a monopoly, and what is the US government’s position vis-à-vis this free trade and competition hindrance?
  • Statistical data from the US government on the “on-time” performance of RAM at the JFK terminal and how it compares to other international airlines.
  • A report from a respected US based airline analyst on the price and service level changes that would occur if a low cost airline was allowed to participate in the JFK-Casablanca route.
  • And much more to come as we continue to get organized and focused on building a strong community for our people and children.

In the meantime, please share the news of this success and the following links with your friends, convince them to join us, and stay tuned for the next developments.

Until then, be well and may God be with us along this journey. Let's do it for our children, the future generation.

Driss R. Temsamani

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Moroccan Americans Kids Summer Camp


The Moroccan Embassy in Washington D.C and the Fondation Hassan II pour les Marocains Résidant a l'Etranger will select 10 Moroccan children from the USA to participate in its Annual Summer Cultural Program in Morocco along 1,000 other Moroccan children coming from all over the world.

This year's summer program will be held from 17th to 30th of July, 2009, at the Moulay Rachid Complex for Children and Youth in Bouznika, a coastal city between Rabat and Casablanca.

Participants will receive free round trip tickets from New York to Casablanca and will be granted free accommodation and meals during their entire stay. A member of the Embassy will accompany them. However, parents are responsible to bring their children to JFK airport in New York and to pick them up upon their return.

Candidates need to satisfy the following conditions:

1. Be not less than 9 years old by July 2, 2009, and not above 13 years of age by August 14,2009.
2. Achieve a minimum of B average during the current academic year.
3. Be physically fit to participate.
4. Be healthy and free of any communicable or mental diseases.

Candidates need to fill out and prepare the following documents:

1. Download Application forms (2 Forms)
2. Latest school report card
3. Four pictures

The procedure for selecting participants will be:

1. Submit the documents by June 16, 2009 to : The documents above must be received at Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, 1211 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Suite 312 Washington D.C. 20036. The Embassy Site

2. On June 19, 2009, at 4.00 P.M a drawing will take place at the Moroccan Embassy in presence of his Excellency the Ambassador to determine the 10 lucky Winners.

Please note that the only candidates satisfying the conditions above will be included in the drawing. Parents of the winners will be notified immediately afterwards, and more details will be sent to them about the logistics of the trip.

The names of the winners will also be posted on the
Morocco American Community Center site

For questions and inquiries, please send an email to: or call 202-457-0012 (ext-10) 202-615-0699

Moroccan American Coalition Resignation Statement


Moroccan American Coalition Board & Presidency Resignation Public Statement

Following my internal memo to the MAC board dated May 24, 2009; I am publicly announcing my resignation from my position as President and Board Member of the Moroccan American Coalition.

The details of my decision were communicated in the internal memo and in this public statement, I will frame the key issue in the most succinct way to provide a smooth transition to the remaining MAC temporary board. It is my hope that the community will accept my decision with open mind and support my future endeavors.

On August 23, 2008 I was elected President of MAC by a representative committee of associations across the United States. With an executive team of 3 Vice Presidents, a General Secretary and a Treasurer, we set to build the foundation for the Moroccan American Coalition and serve the community in the USA. Filled with passion, and equipped with 18 years of fortune 1000 experience and non for profits organizations, I was determined to work with a group of 23 people across 13 states.

Advocating during several local events in the USA and Morocco, I set the name of MAC high and convinced the stake holders that we had a unique young organization that will work hard to deliver the mission of connecting Moroccans across the country. And while MAC’s Presidency was a large responsibility, I still had other commitments to the the Moroccan community that

Required my attention; And this was the wedge that came between me and the Moroccan American Coalition board.

Realizing that there was an unspoken "policy" that required me to ask for the board's approval/consent to pursue community grass roots and advocacy initiatives relevant to my believe and those of organizations I have founded and with potential bias that will hinder my ability to serve those that needed my voice, I had to act.

When I say biased, I truly believe that any board member can challenge any activity based on their affiliation, loyalties, sponsorship or personal relationships. To be candid, my open letter to his Majesty and community survey about Royal Air Maroc was the defining moment of this situation with MAC. What some of the board members found to be a conflict and unfounded work that they did not approve, as President and board member of the Moroccan American Coalition, I strongly believe that the Royal Air Maroc pricing and service quality is a major issue for the community.

I hope that none of you will disagree that the ability to visit Morocco often and in comfort only strengthens the communities' links to the homeland. In fact, those are the very same links MAC was charged to strengthen. It does not required extensive research to conclude that Royal Air Maroc’s service and pricing is diluting the effort the Moroccan government led by his Majesty King Mohammed VI to attract investments from Moroccan’s residing overseas.

This is not to say that those from the MAC’s board who do not feel comfortable with my open letter to the his majesty and the community survey are wrong, not at all. And though as clear as their point of view seems to them, so does mine to myself and to a large part of the community who now supports me; And it is more than fair to say that based on the current board guidelines or lack there of, the MAC board was more right or wrong than I am. A fare debate around governance and process issues that should be addressed after my departure.

And so unfortunately, the only way to rid the board of the confrontations and pressures generated by my grass roots community work and would continue to be generated by my advocacy for the community, tending my resignation. It is the right thing to do both from a fiduciary and moral aspect.

With my resignation from MAC, my family, colleagues, the Moroccan American Community Center and the SOS Morocco team are extremely happy to get back my full dedication and I'm happy to be able to focus on other important projects for the community without conflicts of interested as a result of my affiliation to the Moroccan American Coalition board.

Last, with my resignation, several board members and all the executive team, the 3 Vice Presidents, the General Secretary and the Treasurer, I wish the remaining 13 members representing the now temporary board an "orderly transition".

You have all of our support and we hold you to the highest standards of ethics bestowed on you by many community supporters, sponsors and public officials.

The Moroccan American Coalition’s vision stands and should not be abandoned.


Driss R. Temsamani
USA: 786.301.3915
MOR: 0664171057

After My Resignation, this is what the MAC Board looks like
Pasted Graphic

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Message from Heaven

Dedicated to the victims of Air France Flight 447

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free,
remember you're not're coming here to me.

Light a candle to honor the victimes | Allumer une bougie de condoléance |

visit the Air France 447 Victims tribute

Driss R. Temsamani

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