By Rachid Acim
By Rachid Acim
Morocco World News
Beni Mellal, April 6, 2012
Whenever I switch on my computer, I find myself embarking in a colossal ocean of news items worthy of my attention. I cannot resist reading postings forwarded by virtual friends, responding to funny stories kindly shared, watching some instant YouTube videos epitomizing a whole battery of human phenomena, ranging from abject poverty to international politics. And I came to realize that thanks to the World Wide Web, namely Social Networking, everyone has suddenly turned out to be a religious preacher though one has never been to any religious institution or parochial school. Everyone has started to discuss world politics though one has never read Nicolo Mechiavelli, McLuhan, Chomsky, among many others.
Albeit we could hardly find any institution generating politics’ graduates in Morocco, many grown-ups love raising political issues. Away from these folks, some are completely immersed in private rooms to rid themselves of any sense of solitude or agony, flirting with young girls, looking for trustworthy spouses behind the screen.
The wonders of the virtual world abound, one of which is that the latter helped in overthrowing hegemonic regimes and quenched people’s thirst for a real democracy. And while some may argue that the World Wide Web corrupted the education of our children, it must be stressed that it amazingly resolved many serious social problems like joblessness, divorce, illiteracy and so on. But I’m not that fervid fanatic for its (over)use.
Recently, an incendiary calumny was cast on the Moroccan Prime Minister Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane. I never expected that a kiss or maybe two would result in all this heated public controversy.
Honestly speaking, if you happen to be in his shoes, how would you proceed then?
Let me be frank enough this time, I would do the same thing; one thing I learned about our religion, since my childhood, is that Islam is a tolerant faith, never ever, it has been complex or pigeonholed as being violent or even narrow-minded. Those who would claim the contrary are absolutely mistaken. What we see from horror movies vilifying Muslims and scholastic reports ridiculing Islam is a mere fictional narrative or fantasy that sought to entertain people at a particular era of time, given the prevailing mental distress and psychological confusion.
The (un)intentional response of Mr. Benkirane to kiss the American lady has maybe corrected the White House view of Islam and those Islamists mounting to power after the Arab revolts. I strongly believe that the U.S ambassador’s wife Mrs. Sylvia can tell us how those two cheek-kisses taste. Sweet or succulent, delightful or even friendly not a real problem!
Through the two-soft-cheek kisses, Mrs. Sylvia attempted to express infinite forms of gratitude to Morocco and all Moroccans in the person of Mr. Abdelilah Benkirane.
Wasn’t Morocco the first country to recognize America’s sovereignty in 1777? Of course, yes! The lady, who couldn’t resist shedding tears in Beni Mellal whilst listening to some pitiful stories recounted by Mellali students some time ago, was the same lady who would cheek-kiss Mr. Benkiran. Sorry that was not a culture shock and it was not a coincidence, either. Women throughout history have been so fragile and sensitive and whatever reactions they may undertake, should not be conceived as gratuitous. Empathy, love and care are the common denominator all women seem to share. If the opposite is shown, then that is a mere exception.
America and Morocco, since antiquity, have been strong strategic allies in their fight against terrorism. They have by no means a longstanding special relationship. Many Moroccans living in the United States have really been astonished by the open-mindedness of the American character, the latter’s resolution to adapt easily to the Moroccan culture and intermingle in utter friendliness with the Moroccan people. That is not strange because we are all human beings and the same blood runs in our veins. Whereas some seek to purge that blood against any impurity, others, unfortunately, allow hate, maybe revenge, to contaminate it. We mustn’t widen the gap. The injury is not only afflictive, but grievous as well.
The other interpretation of the 42-seconds video which may be true is that by the two-cheek-kisses, Mrs. Sylvia opened up a new horizon for negotiation with the so-called Islamist parties. One word I could capture in the video is peace, peace, peace. That is the great concern of all people now. Thinkers, philosophers have altogether been tremendously annoyed by the term. But where is peace?
It is not an ink to be splashed on treaties and bilateral agreement papers, but a spontaneous heartfelt conduct displayed at a given moment. The subsequent innocent laughters, mutually shared, are most likely to consolidate my claim. Then don’t be stuck if I divulge that in our culture the beard is appreciated; black or white, it indicates respect, piety and self-esteem.
Mrs. Sylvia was venerating that new Moroccan icon. We are no longer before those Arabs projected in Hollywood movies as oily sheikhs financing terrorist attacks, buffoons, foul creatures, dumb baddies as the most outstanding American scholar Jack Shaheen, in his remarkable masterwork, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, would marvelously inform and cleverly argue. But we are in front of a handsome middle-aged sheikh, always smiling, imparting lots of joy to those around. It is also said that Moroccan couscous was, I hope it still be, served on Fridays to the poor in Mr. Benkirane’s house.
While watching another video of Mr. Benkirane, I could dissolve into laughing because I discovered that the man was full of jokes, keen on story-telling and these, I assume, are basic properties contributing to his personal charisma. In that video, Mr. Benkirane reported to his followers that, while he was intending his new office in Rabat, a lady, coming in the speed of light, warmly hugged him up. Was it a token of love or admiration? The woman can tell!
Mr. Benkirane would laughingly inform his audience, that with the mounting of JDP (Justice Development Party) to power in Morocco, he received many SMS-messages in his cellular phone. Everyone has turned a JDP member all of a sudden. What a sweet surprise! That was not a sort of hypocrisy because the Moroccans are far from it. Rather, it suggested that the Moroccan population was longing for a real reform to take place. This will be feasible only with a party that is springing from the commonplace populace, a political party that can listen to hundred miseries in shanty towns, the numerous afflictions of our university graduates and many other problems.
None can negate then that with the advent of the Arab Spring, a new version of Islam emerged. The spring, or say winter uprisings erupting in the Arab world will have long-term aftermaths. We need not be too much hasty to reap the harvest because even the United States took 13 years to remedy the injuries left by the British control in 1776.
Our job is then twofold: i) we must not let a small minority group to continue misrepresenting us and ii) we must dig up commonalities between all people, highlight points where we meet with the West and consequently ward off differences to help peace to take its course. This is maybe ideal to be achieved now. Nevertheless, an innocent kiss, given or taken, will always be a great solace and leave hope for us to wait until the next kiss comes.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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