By Jalal El Mir
By Jalal El Mir
Morocco World News
Oujda, Morocco, April 24, 2012
As tensions rose inside neighboring Arab countries during the so-called Arab Spring last year, many voices in Morocco have sprung into action to stop all kinds of injustice and corruption whether it is cultural, economic or social. As an example, the annual festival of Mawazine, for which it is believed, a large sum is spent and the money collected comes directly from the “pockets” of Moroccans in the form of taxes paid by citizens each year.
The above claim has been denied by the organizers of Mawazine, according to whom the money paid to the artists comes from private institutions such as Maroc Telecom, BMCE bank and others; There is now a general consensus among a group of Moroccan activists who ensure that the funding of festivals is the result of the population “sweat.”
The question that every anti-Mawazine Moroccan asks: Why do they organize Mawazine? What for? For what reason are millions of dirhams spent on concerts while Moroccans still suffer from illiteracy, poor health care and education?
One reason to cancel the organization of Mawazine lies in is it’s timing; both the conditions and timing are inappropriate. First, Mawazine is scheduled annually in May, which coincides with the period when Moroccan students prepare for the baccalaureate exam. How can any country advance its education and research goals by organizing festivals during exam periods? The answer we may get from every conscious Moroccan citizen’s is that the Ministry of Culture doesn’t really care.
In terms of security, few people today speak about what happened during the eighth edition of Mawazine in 2009, when 11 people died in a stampede after a concert by the Moroccan singer Stati. This event occurred because the majority came to the show for free and watched behind fences with little to no security and organization.
From a cultural viewpoint, the Mawazine festival is somewhat inappropriate, if not awkward. For instance, everyone was surprised last year when a young Moroccan girl stepped on stage to learn belly dancing with Shakira. Was this the real purpose of paying Shakira to take part in Mawazine? To teach Moroccan girls how to become professional belly dancers? Certainly not. This is not acceptable both culturally and religiously, especially in a new Islamic-led government. Worse than that, in the previous edition of Mawazine they hosted Elton John, a homosexual singer who boasts about his homosexuality to the whole world, and yet who was warmly welcomed at the Mawazine festival.
No one is against culture, music or art in general; what the anti-Mawazine activists are against is the misuse of human resources and public funds invested in Mawazine. In addition, resisting other cultures is not at all a Moroccan trait because Moroccans have always been a successful example of coexistence between different cultures throughout history. Instead of squandering money on Mawazine, Moroccans need to invest more money on good education, health care and employment.
The repercussions of Mawazine on ethics, culture and behavior are numerous, but here I have tried to state just the few that most, if not all, Moroccans share. If Mawazine is not a waste of money according to them, then it is certainly a waste of moralities, customs and especially religious values. This year, a group of activists has created a group page on Facebook in order to encourage the population to take to the street in an attempt to annul this years eleventh edition of Mawazine – knowing that Morocco is now led by an Islamic government whose main principles are to apply religion and sharia to deal with the social, economic and cultural issues of our country.
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