By Larbi Arbaoui
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Taroudant, Morocco, July 10, 2012
Morocco’s recent debate over sexual freedom got even more interesting with the release of a theatrical play entitled “Diali”, meaning “mine” in Moroccan dialect and is a veiled reference to the the female genital organ.
The play is a narrative conversation about women and their gender, sexuality, experiences, adventures, as well as funny or depressing stories. For the playwright Naima Zitan, the goal of this provocative play is to break taboos about female sexuality and promote women’s liberation in a culture that represses expressions about all that is attractive about their bodies and sexuality.
According to Ms. Zitan, the provocative title of her play is partly influenced by the American play “the vagina monologue” written by the fiminist Eve Ensler. While this choice alone was enough to draw harsh criticism, many also objected to the actual reference to the female sexual organ, in Moroccan dialect, by Noria Ben Brahim, the heroine of the play.
In a statement to Deutsche Welle, Ms. Zitan underscored that the negative reactions perpetuate a tradition of censorship or guardianship on art, adding that “there are people who consider themselves guardians over us. I tell them there is no custody on me and on artists in general. We are free in the country ruled by law.” She also stated that “Art is a space for freedom, creativity and thinking, through which people and societies evolve and create new ideas. Therefore, we do not have to fight the art in the name of morality.”
Abdul-Karim Berrechid, a celebrated theater director in Morocco, does not see any form of art in the play “Diali.” In a statement carried by DW, he wondered if this play could be regarded as a work of art. “We must first ask if this is art? I see the courage, but I do not see art”. He also added, “We are before an adapted play, the theme is not Moroccan, performed in a non-Moroccan space that is the French Cultural Center and the play lacks the elements of creativity”.
The newspaper Attajdid, placed the play “Diali” in the context of what it considered as “political exploitation” of artists by opponents of the Islamist-led government, with the aim of further confusing people and hindering the reform process underway in the country.
In spite of all this controversy, Naima Zitan emphasizes that she will continue performing her play, in the context of a rising cultural battle between Islamists and secularists.