Quelques impressions du Maroc en général et de Chefchaouen en particulier

J’aime beaucoup le blog « Land and People » de Rami Zurayk, agronome libanais et militant. Pour le droit à la résistance à l’agression étrangère des Libanais et des Palestiniens, il s’intéresse aussi de près aux questions alimentaires, agricoles et économiques au Moyen-Orient.

La semaine passée, il était en séminaire à Chefchaouen, au Maroc. Je vous invite à découvrir ses impressions, réparties en six billets, dont voici quelques simples extraits.

Sur la question linguistique:

I was sitting next to an Algerian Engineer on the plane, and as usual, everybody speaks to me in English or French and I answer in Arabic and they say: « wow you speak really good Arabic » and then I say « it is because I am an Arab« . This one didn’t register the fact that I answered in Arabic and so I borrowed his pen and filled the landing card in Arabic so he said: « wow, you write Arabic really well« . And I said…

The woman at the passport control made me fill it again in French. I said « sorry for filling it in Arabic, you gave the option on the card« . She said: « you have to do it in French too« . (Morocco, Chefchaouen–Palestine, Gaza/1)

All these discussions were happening in French, so the French people with us (the majority) gave me their version of « you speak really good Arabic« . It goes like this: « You speak really good French and you have no accent. You must be originally French« . And here I say: « No, I’m an Arab but I used to read a lot of bande dessinée« . And then one French person said: « You have a slight Belgian accent, you are from Belgium, right? » And I said: « I’ve never been to Belgium, but I read all the Tintin. » The conversation usually ends here.(Morocco, Chefchaouen–Palestine, Gaza /4)

Panarabisme:

6 hours in a mini bus, from Rabat to Chefchaouen. We stopped a few kilometers outside Rabat, to have coffee and use the toilets and get some food. I ordered coffee in Arabic. The waiter asked me: Are you Syrian or Palestinian? I said I am Lebanese. He said, welcome to you Lebanese, and may Hizbollah always be victorious. We talked about the resistance and HA and he told me that he was at a celebration of the liberation of South Lebanon a few days ago in Rabat. He then introduced me to the staff of the café. (…)

I walk a bit and then hear some really nice music coming out of a shop. I walk in there and he has all the Arabic music one could think of, from Moroccan to Sheikh Imam and Haifa Wehbeh. We talk a bit in Arabic (after the: « you speak really good Arabic » bit…) and then a man comes in and greets me and we start talking about Arabic music and literature and he shows me his book: the Rose of Chefchaouen. His name is Mohammad Belhaj Benkhanou and the book is a translation into Arabic from the Spanish. It was originally written by Mohammad Seebary. I buy a copy and ask him to sign it. He tells me about Chefchaouen, the city of literature and poetry, founded 500 years ago when the Andalousians crossed the sea after they were driven away by the reconquista. We are Andalusians he tells me, and we only speak Arabic. We have a local dialect, more an accent but it is not another language. We are proud to welcome you in your country Morocco. I tell him it is my country, I belong to it. بلاد العرب أوطاني

Arabic is my language, my nation and my identity. (…)

People I talk to are all whole heartedly with the Palestinian cause and against Zionism. This includes Moroccans from all walks of life, writers, researchers, intellectuals, farmers and rural people. There are 3 Moroccans whose fate is unknown among the people on the boat.

Chefchaouen is breathtaking, and the landscapes are fabulous. I go through the motions of the day without really thinking about it. I will come back when Palestine is liberated and Zionism is gone and enjoy it. (Morocco, Chefchaouen–Palestine, Gaza/1)

La culture du cannabis à Chefchaouen:

We must also remember that the region of Chefchaouen is one of the prime producers of kif (cannabis) in Morocco, and that there is pressure from the Western countries to eradicate the cultivation–while there is pressure from citizen of these same countries (but especially Spain) to keep this culture alive. Governmental pressure is exerted through diplomatic power and promises of aid. Citizen pressure is exerted through local tourism and on-site consumption: the real terroir-tourism relationship is centered around the kif. Who’s winning the battle? Unclear, but we were told that the area cropped with cannabis had been reduced from 90,000ha to 60,000ha. But we also learned, that unlike all other rural areas in Morocco and in the world, the region of Chefchaouen had witnessed net demographic growth, indicating an amelioration of the livelihoods opportunities. (…)

There was, predictably a brouhaha in the room, and a lively discussion ensued, during which I shared the experience of cannabis eradication in the Bekaa and the successive failures of the internationally funded programs. Others through in their experiences of the deleterious effects of local tourism on the environment, notably in Corsica. Many of the Moroccans among us took the line defending the kif replacement programs, pointing at the impacts of farming on land resources, and to the social impacts. From what I saw there is no more environmental impacts of kif on land than with any other production (and it is much less than the impacts of large scale export-tomato production in Souss for instance) but the social impact is certainly an issue. (Morocco, Chefchaouen–Palestine, Gaza /3)

Touristes israëliens:

One last thing before I close the Morocco file for the day: I was really pissed off to find an Israeli newspaper in the hotel. The house cleaners were using it to wipe the glass. I asked Omar who also runs a hotel and he confirmed that they receive Israeli tourists.(Morocco, Chefchaouen–Palestine, Gaza /5)

links for 2010-06-07

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