By Siham Ali
By Siham Ali
Rabat, May 25, 2012
The 11th annual Mawazine Festival, “Rhythms of the World”, May 18th-26th, brought scores of people and international performers to Rabat to celebrate music, peace and tolerance.
Countering criticism that state subsidies fund the Mawazine Festival, organisers vowed that the event would no longer use public money but continue to secure performers of the same high standard.
“This is the only festival in Morocco – and possibly in the world – which does not receive any subsidies from the city which hosts it,” artistic director Aziz Daki told media.
A number of styles of music have been represented through performers including: Cheb Khaled, Asalah Nasri, Abdallah Al Rowaished, Vigon and the Dominos, Evanescence, Nancy Ajram, Pitbull, Yolanda Be Cool, Scorpions, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Fadel Shaker, Dounia Batma and more.
The four main open-air stages designed to accommodate crowds of 15,000 to more than 100,000 have been packed with people, organisers said.
More than 175,000 music lovers turned out to see headliner Cheb Khaled, the “Prince of Rai” drape Moroccan and Algerian flags around his neck as he sang songs calling for harmony between countries.
During a press conference Khaled stressed the need to create a united Maghreb, along the lines of the European Union, based on brotherhood. “It would be a great source of strength,” he said.
Cheikhi Brahimi, who brought his son Mohib to listen to Khaled’s performance, said: “This is a symbol of brotherhood between the peoples of the Maghreb, despite their political differences. Art unites the Maghreb.”
Khaled answered questions about Islamism and its potential to restrict freedom in some Arab countries by saying that religion is in the heart. He said that Islam is based on “respect, tolerance, brotherhood, humanity and solidarity”.
Other artists reflected messages of a similar tone, underlining the importance of cross-cultural dialogue promoted by art.
“Music brings people together around peace and harmony,” said disco icon Gloria Gaynor. “It’s a means of communication which is really valuable and amazing.”
Morocco embraced diversity as crowds gathered to listen to Mawazine’s music, but critics managed to find something to complain about. With the issue of state subsidies off the table, some complained about the timing of the event which coincided with final examinations for many students.
“I love music in its diversity. But I’m against the organisation of the Mawazine festival, which prevents a great many young people from preparing for their exams,” Fatima Chennaoui said. “That’s been the case with my son, who is losing valuable days of preparation. He’s sitting his Baccalaureate this year.”