By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 3/2/2006 | 9:48 am
A network specialized in the production of pornographic films has been dismantled in Marrakech. About 18 Moroccans, among them a French of Moroccan descent, were arrested and sent to court. Other suspects are still at large.
Eighteen young poor Moroccans from Marrakech got involved in a very bad adventure, risking their reputation for a very insignificant sum of money.
After two months of investigations, an operation headed by the general intelligence services in collaboration with the Marrakech judicial police led to the arrest on Feb. 17 of 18 members of a network specialized in the production of homosexual pornographic films.
The majority of the homosexuals arrested came from a popular neighborhood located at Sidi Youssef Ben Ali prefecture. Aged between 18 and 20, these very young homos found themselves involved in this sex scandal for financial needs. They got only MAD 500 each a film. Others got MAD 250 for helping shoot in a sports club, which is considered very insignificant money in the porn industry.
Based on intelligence data, the investigations into the case were secretly conducted, which made it possible to identify the members of the network and the places where they shot these films.
The films were broadcast in an internet site, which has about 500 members, who pay a monthly tuition fee of Euros 42. The porn production company, which runs the website, earns more than Euro 20,000 a month. The site is now inaccessible in Morocco, after being blocked by the Moroccan authorities.
The hearing of the porn scandal case, which started on Monday with the presence of about 30 lawyers, will resume on Friday.
No further details were yet given regarding this affair, but sources from the Rabat Police Department have indicated that the main suspect or the mastermind of this affair, currently on search warrant, is a French national, who is managing these operations from France.
The Marrakech police dismantled, few years ago, a child pornographic network, essentially headed by French nationals.
According to the Moroccan penal code, the individuals involved in this scandal, if convicted, risk one to 5 years imprisonment, with paying a fine ranging from MAD 5,000 to 1 million.
In the same vein, several local associations in Marrakech staged a sit-in before the city's court of first instance to denounce sex tourism.
Agadir, south of Morocco, another tourist city has known last year a big sex scandal, which trigged the concern of most national media.
The scandal started following the discovery of a pornographic DVD showing about 80 Moroccan women.
Pornography being a crime in Morocco, 13 of them were arrested, one of them a 17-year-old minor, and the others are on search warrant by the police.
It appeared that all these women, many of whom belonged to a poor background, were the victims of the same person, Belgian Philippe Servaty, who promised to marry them and take them to Europe.
After gaining their trust, he took pornographic photographs of them and published them without their knowledge and consent on the internet. The photographs were later copied and sold in Agadir on CDs for less than MAD 10.
Servaty, a Belgian national who used to work for the Brussels-based newspaper Le Soir, remains free, because pornography is not considered a crime in his country.
In July of the same year, the Agadir court issued prison sentences against 60 prostitutes arrested with clients in a hotel.
In addition to these prostitutes, 28 Saudi tourists and 9 Kuwaitis were arrested, as well as seven employees of the hotel.
The foreign tourists were expelled from Morocco without charge while 67 Moroccans were prosecuted for debauchery and incitement of sexual tourism.
The Agadir authorities have decided to clamp down on prostitution in the city, only a few weeks after the Agadir scandal attracted international attention on sex tourism in Morocco.
The issue of sex tourism in Morocco continues to attract media's attention and encourage them to constantly publish investigative reporting on the subject in other cities.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 3/7/2006 | 2:45 pm
Will March 8 bring something new for the Moroccan women regarding the ratification of the nationality code, which prevented in the past children from Moroccan women and foreign fathers from their rights as Moroccan citizens?
Will World Women's day be an occasion for the Moroccan government to announce what it has done to implement the instructions of the King who granted the citizenship to children born to Moroccan mothers?
Moroccan women all over the world welcomed with great joy and satisfaction the King's decision to grant their children born to non-Moroccan father the right to obtain the Moroccan citizenship. However, their hope soon faded when faced with the slow implementation of the King's instructions by the Moroccan government.
King Mohammed VI declared on July 30, 2005, that children born to Moroccan mothers will now enjoy the right to obtain Moroccan citizenship that children of Moroccan fathers already enjoy.
"I have decided, in my capacity as King and Amir Al Muminin (Commander of the Faithful), that a child born to a Moroccan mother shall have the right to obtain Moroccan citizenship," announced HM King Mohammed VI in an address to the nation on Throne Day (30 July).
The king's promise of citizenship equality for children of Moroccan mothers and children of Moroccan fathers brought long-awaited relief in Morocco and abroad.
He explained his decision was made as part of his ongoing commitment "to build a united nation committed to democracy and a principle of gender equality that preserves the rights of children and protects the unity and harmony of the family and its authentic national identity."
Bouchra Moftazada, a Moroccan born in Casablanca to an Egyptian father, welcomed the new citizenship law with joy and satisfaction.
"You can't imagine my feelings ... I have been longing for this for more than 23 years," Bouchra told Morocco Times.
If the code is applied, Bouchra will no longer have to go to local authorities every year to renew her residence permit, without which she could face deportation. She tried unsuccessfully for 23 years to obtain Moroccan citizenship, and is still waiting for the implementation of the code.
Naîma Chaimouma, the daughter of a non-Moroccan father, also expressed her joy on hearing King Mohammed VI's speech. "My feelings were... I felt as if I were a newborn. 30 July is my real birthday from now on."
She is now awaiting the official enactment of the new nationality law in order to apply for Moroccan citizenship.
Without citizenship papers, the only document proving Chaimouma's existence is her birth certificate. Documentation is necessary in Morocco for rights such as education, healthcare, and marriage.
The children of Moroccan mothers have always applied for citizenship, but many were discouraged by the complexity and slowness of the process.
F. Khadija, another Moroccan, fled Algeria after the death of her husband to start a new life in her native country. However, a few days after arriving in Morocco, her daughter received an expulsion order. Unwilling to be separated from her child, Khadija was forced to leave the country.
Naima and others in her situation are pleased with the fact King Mohammed VI has instructed the government to swiftly finalize the new nationality law. But now, after seven months, the concerned women are still waiting for a move from the government.
To put pressure on the government to hasten the procedures, several actors in the women's field have created an association aiming at examining the problems resulting from mixed marriages, among which the citizenship of the children born to Moroccan mothers and foreign fathers.
This initiative came as a reaction to the failure of the government to smooth and speed up the procedures related to the issue of citizenship and its incapacity to deal with hundreds of citizenship applications which are still stocked on the shelves of the relevant ministry.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 12/28/2004 | 7:52 pm
The Moroccan Family Code is considered the top reform of 2004, and a model in the Arab and Islamic world. The House of Advisors unanimously adopted the new Family Code on January 23, 2004, after it had been adopted by the House of Representatives.
The family law reforms, in harmony with the teachings of Islam, were seen as “revolutionary” and were largely welcomed in Morocco and worldwide.
These reforms appeared in most national and international newspapers and news websites with headlines such as: “Morocco reform plan welcomed”, “Moroccan King plans women's rights reform”, “Family law change to end polygamy in Morocco”, “A King's Appeal”, “Moroccan women win more rights”, “Morocco's Family Code reform to mark a revolution”, and “Morocco could become women's rights model among Muslim countries”.
Specialized jurisdictions have been set up in Moroccan courts to implement the new Code.
Justice Minister, Mohamed Bouzoubaa, said that “the government is keen to meet all the necessary conditions for a successful implementation of the Family Code, and make sure the law meets the aspirations of all Moroccans.”
He added that “the implementation of the reforms depends on the creation of fair, modern and efficient jurisdictions for the family and the training of qualified people.”
Background on Family Code (Mudawana)
After years of discussion and controversy within the Moroccan society over the amendments that should be introduced in the Mudawana ratified in 1957, King Mohammed VI announced on October 10, 2003, on the occasion of the opening of parliament's fall session, reforms on issues related to marriage, divorce, custody, and inheritance. This new Family Code was unanimously adopted by the House of Advisors on January 23, 2004.
The previous Family Code stipulated that the family was under the control of the husband, and that the wife's main marital duty was to obey her husband in all matters. The Mudawana, based on Islamic Sharia law, and ratified soon after independence in 1956 was widely abused in Morocco where illiteracy among women reaches more than 65 %, especially in rural areas. Thousands of divorced women are living in tragic conditions without any guarantees to ensure their rights and those of their children.
In the late 1990s, there was a heated debate over improving women's rights in Morocco and revising the Mudawana. In March 1999, former State Secretary for Family Affairs, Saïd Saidi, introduced a bill known as the “National Action Plan for Integrating Women in Development.” This bill aimed at asserting some basic rights for women against discrimination and abuse.
The plan, especially the section on reforming the Mudawana, faced fierce opposition from conservative and Islamist groups. This led to a massive protest rally in Casablanca, in March 2000 against any change in the Mudawana.
Modernists seeking change marched in fewer numbers, the same day, to express their support for the plan. In May 2000, and in response to the intense public debate on women's rights, the ex-Prime Minister Youssoufi appointed a committee of twenty religious scholars, sociologists, judges, and one women's rights activist, to look into the controversial aspects of the plan, and make their recommendations to the King.
This committee failed to address these issues and the plan was put on hold. Given widespread recognition of the need to improve women's rights as part of developing Morocco's overall human rights record, and to ensure that women enjoy a better, more equitable status, King Mohammed VI stepped in, setting up a Royal Commission, made up of Islamic scholars and women's representatives. It was meant to report in 2002, but the controversial and sensitive nature of the subject made it difficult to reach an agreement.
By announcing reforms of the Mudawana to parliament on October 10, 2003, the monarch said he wanted to prevent society from splitting apart over this issue. As Commander of the Faithful (Amir Al Muminin), His Majesty stated that the aim of these reforms was to draw up a modern family law consistent with the spirit of Islam. “I cannot make licit what God has forbidden, nor forbid what he has made lawful,” he said.
The new reform, proposed by the Royal Commission, would place families under the joint responsibility of both spouses. The family law would not be considered as legislation devised for women only, but rather as a code for the family: father, mother, and children. The proposed legislation was meant to free women from the injustices they endure, in addition to protecting children's rights and safeguarding men's dignity. Women have the right to ask for divorce, and the legal age of marriage for girls would be raised from 15 to 18; polygamy will not be outlawed but will be practically impossible; and custody of children in the case of separation is given as a priority to the mother.
To ensure optimal conditions for the enforcement of the new family law, His Majesty addressed a message to the Minister of Justice, in which he explained that no matter what reforms had been proposed, their implementation would hinge on the setting up of a just, modern and effective family judicial system. In addition to the rapid establishment of a family mutual assistance fund, the King has ordered the Minister of Justice to set up suitable facilities for the administration of family justice in all courts of the Kingdom, and ensure that staff are trained, at all levels, and qualified to shoulder their future responsibilities. Efforts must also be made to reach deadlines laid down in the current civil procedure act to expedite family matters.
A parliamentary commission debated the new code for one month, studying 110 amendments before submitting it to the House's vote.
Eventually, the House of Advisors unanimously adopted the new Family Code on January 23, 2004, after it had been adopted by the House of Representatives.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 2/12/2006 | 5:21 pm
Rabat---The US embassy in Rabat celebrated Achoura on Saturday at the Tazi Palace cheering up more than 900 orphans coming from different regions of Morocco.
Achoura commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680) during the quarrel to the succession of the prophet.
More than 900 orphans coming from Sidi Kacem, Settat, Meknes, Temara, Casablanca, Sale and Moulay Driss Zerhoune/Fes benefited from this special event co-sponsored by Coca Cola and McDonald.
Coca Cola and MacDonald provided the orphans with food and beverage along with Music and animation. Since Achoura's feast is considered like Christmas for the children, both US companies distributed gifts for the kids on this occasion.
Representatives of several other embassies including the Bangladeshi, Korean, and Egyptian attended the event to share with the children their happiness in Achoura.
The US embassy has recently organized a solidarity day with the orphans on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.
Achoura's event is the fourth of its kind that Palais Tazi agrees to host for the benefit of orphans. The owners of the palace are intending to invest in the health field through the creation of a foundation called “Attasahol Foundation”, to manage activities related to orphans and children's health.
The owners of the palace will also offer a piece of land to the “Operation Smile to allow them build a healthcare centre for children in Casablanca.
In the same vein, the spouse of the US ambassador to Morocco, Nancy Riley along with the spouse of the Bangladeshi ambassador will organize a Bangladeshi evening next Friday at the same Palace.
At the evening, silks, saris, and Bangladeshi Arts will be open to sale. The funds, which will be collected, will go to the Red Crescent Social Educational Center in Rabat.
By Karima Rhanem | Morocco TIMES 1/15/2006 | 2:19 pm
Rabat---The US embassy in Rabat organized on Saturday a solidarity day with orphans on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, celebrated in Morocco last Wednesday.
A total of 700 orphans, from different cities of Morocco (Rabat, Salé, Temara, and Meknes), gathered in Palais Tazi in Rabat for a day of solidarity and sharing organized by the US embassy in cooperation with other embassies including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.
Nancy Riley, spouse of the American ambassador to Morocco told Morocco Times that “on the occasion of Eid al-Adha we want to make these children feel happy and know they are not abandoned”
“We have already organized a similar event with 60 orphans during the performance of the New Orleans band in Morocco, and we were touched to see two sisters recognize their two brothers who are residing in another orphanage. So we thought it would be great to organize this day and make them feel happy, and serve them food and beverage by ourselves without any protocol,” Riley added.
Moumen Lahcen, director of Salé Orphanage told Morocco Times that “this kind of events has a great impact on the children who will have the opportunity to meet other children and get out of their daily routine at the orphanage.”
“We are trying our best to make these deprived children live as if they were in a family,” he added.
Figures from the world of arts and cinema attended the event. Naima Lamcharki, Aziz Maouhoub, Rachid al-Wali, Abdelkabir Ragagna, Naima Ilyas, Haj Youness, Mohammed Khiyari, among others, all came to share with the children their happiness.
A number of activities were scheduled during the day for the children. These included animation, music and entertainment, dancing and clowns.
This event is the third of its kind that Palais Tazi hosts for the benefit of orphans. The owners of the palace are intending to invest in the health field through the creation of a foundation called “Attasahol Foundation” to manage activities related to orphans and children's health.
The owners of the palace will also offer a piece of land to the “Operation Smile to allow them build a healthcare centre for children in Casablanca.