By Mourad Anouar
By Mourad Anouar
Morocco World News
Oklahoma City, April 1, 2012
In my early years in America, I worked in a restaurant owned by an Iraqi ex-soldier who deserted the Iraqi army during the Gulf War and sought asylum in the United States. During this period in Alexandria, Virginia, I used to hang out, along with some other Iraqi co-workers, at the restaurant back door whenever the business was slow. There were times when some women would pass by, heading toward the next door business, which happened to be a Sudanese store, and as the women passed by, the two Iraqi co-workers would flirt with them and sometimes chase them to the store.
I came to realize later that most of the women being flirted with and chased were Moroccan. And I still remember one day when there was a woman walking toward us while holding her kid’s hand, and as she passed by us, all three, one of my co-worker named Ali approached her and whispered as usual something in an Iraqi dialect, which I could figure out as being a form of flirting. Witnessing what happened in front of our very eyes, my other co-worker, Kacem, stepped forward toward Ali, grabbed him from his arm and pulled him back: Hey, are you crazy? She is Iraqi.
This sad and hurtful story comes up in my mind when I came across a video of a Kuwaiti activist woman who slandered a great portion of Moroccan women and labeled them as “cheap sluts”. In her YouTube video, she explained her invective as being a reaction to what some Moroccan posted in the same video sharing site. It is note that it was the same country, where Almatiri is from, that ran a cartoon episode in which they portrayed Moroccan women as black magic doers who are very adamant about entrapping Kuwaiti men into marrying them.
The cartoon caused a lot of anger in Morocco when it was aired during Ramadan of 2010. Moroccans, each in his own or her way, expressed their frustration and condemnation against what they considered offensive and slanderous. Some of them even called on Moroccan government to sever any ties with the country where the cartoon was originated. Around that time, an Egyptian TV show portrayed a Moroccan woman as a prostitute. About 8 years ago, I was watching the opposite direction talk show, in which one guest told a story about a Saudi journalist who was reported to say, after being asked why he was still single, that why he would get married if there were plenty of cheap Moroccan women. Some of these stories might be true, but they are not the whole story.
Let’s assume we have the highest prostitution rate throughout Middle East. And let’s assume, too, that most of the tourists that visit Morocco are from Middle East, especially Gulf countries, come for sex tourism. And by the way, the second assumption may be true. Now, let’s say if both assumptions are true, Moroccan women would look really bad, if I don’t have to use the words “sluts” as Almatiri did. But away from what can be a reality or an assumption, one should ask the following questions: If Moroccan women are prostitutes, should not we also call those lust-driven Arabs, either Kuwaitis or others, who slept with them, male prostitutes? Or, is it different when the female is the prostitute?
When you watch Almatiri’s video, you will get the impression that what is even a greatest sin is when Moroccan woman is the one involved in prostitution. As a Moroccan, I would blame neither Almatiri nor the like, because the latter is born and raised in a region where women are still looked upon as objects, devoid of any human feelings or intellect.
She belongs to a mentality that denied women of their basic rights, of her right to vote, of her right to travel without a chaperon, of her right to drive a car even if she has an emergency to go to the hospital, or even of her right to question her husband’s frequent visits to Morocco without her. Do we blame her for what she said, or are we going to engage in a self-flogging ritual and keep saying that nobody to blame but Moroccan women? Personally, I would not blame her nor practice any type of self-flogging. I think it is time to point the finger at men as well as women since the act of prostitution would not have happened if any of the two was absent. It is time to look at prostitution in Morocco, as in any other country, as a human phenomenon, involving men and women both. If we are going to continue setting up our “social gallows” to “emotionally behead” only prostitute women, we, men, are going to lose our sense of fairness and credibility before losing anything else.
What Almatiri should know is that Moroccan woman is my mom who raised eight children with very limited financial means. Losing her husband, my dad, while she was still in her thirties, she could have done what Almatiri think most Moroccan women do, but my mom decided to pursue the dream of most Moroccan women: Work hard and raise her children with dignity. My mom’s story is the story of most Moroccan women who made us the way we are now, proud of our moms and angry when somebody dare speak ill of them.
Almatiri does not know anything about a great number of Moroccan women who, instead of getting easy money by selling their bodies in the streets, preferred to have their bodies be eaten by sharks while trying to make a living crossing the sea toward Spain. She surely does not have time to read about a lot success stories of Moroccan women, because she was busy finding out about her husband’s multiple extramarital relationships when he is away from home. If she happened to read any history book about Morocco, she would know that the person who built the first university in Morocco, and in the world, was a woman named Fatima Alfihriyya. If she only read, she would spare us writing all this, and be instead fighting against exploiting fellow women, not slandering them.
Mourad Anouar is a Moroccan writer, novelist and poet. He received his bachelor’s in Journalism and a minor in German from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is the author of several poems and short stories both in Arabic and English.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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