By Fatima Matousse
By Fatima Matousse
Morocco World News
Fez, November 24, 2012
On November the 21st, the French Institute screened From Tinghir to Jérusalem: les Echos du Mellah at cinema Rex in Fez. The curiosity of Kamal Hachkar, the author of the film, to investigate a very recent past characterized by the coexistence of Jews and Muslims in his place of birth, Tinghir, led him to revive the memory of old people in this town located in southeast Morocco.
Locals, especially the elderly had a chance to tell their story to the whole world about a tolerant, rich, diverse and plural environment they used to live in. Amazigh Jews, also, had to tell the other part of the story to the community of Tinghir, who didn’t know anything about how these people are living now, in what conditions and especially why they left everything behind them suddenly.
The documentary is archiving and re-writing a part of the history of Morocco that many people don’t know about especially young people. This film is rich in the sense that it is not only reviving a memory but as Kamal said, “The film aims at raising a debate about the plurality of Moroccan identity.” “Identity is not fixed or stable but it is always undergoing a process of change,” he added.
Youth are the strength of any nation. If the youth believe in tolerance, plurality, acceptance of the other, and respect of differences, it is maybe one optimistic step towards peace in the world. After the screening there was a debate among the audience along with the filmmaker where he insisted that his film is not only about nostalgia, but a step towards creating bridges between the young generations belonging to different religions and backgrounds.
More screenings of the documentary, which are organized by the The French Institute, will take place in Oujda on 22 of November, El Jadida on the 26th and Agadir. Khalid Soufiani, one of the leaders of the Salafist movement in Morocco, is mobilizing people to push for the cancellation of the screening of the movie in Agadir’s cultural center Jamal Dorra, located near the University of Ibn Zohr. He claims that it is a film about normalization of the existence of Jews in Israel.
However, I believe having seen the film that the documentary will be a chance to the students to open a debate about themes such as identity, diaspora, marginalized history, separation, exile, memory, etc. The filmmaker expressed a pity because he claims that his goal is to get to talk to the students with an open mind. “We need to see the history from the margin, a history told by ordinary people and look at things with an open mind without being manipulated by certain widespread ideologies,” a number of students who attended the screening pointed out.
“None can deny that people have different opinions, but it is time for young people to say no to the decisions made on our behalf choosing what we have to see and what we don’t have to see,” the same person, who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity, added.
“People should be free to read about everything, to look at whatever they want and it is only them who can decide to form their own opinions. There is no harm in discussion. On the contrary it is the best way to improve one’s intellectual capacities,” another person said.
“More still, it is a tool to learn about the other with whom we are always in conflict. This film treats a part of who we are. Identity cannot be just one thing. We cannot define ourselves without the other. It is this relational aspect of identity that young people should discuss to be more tolerant and more accepting of the other,” she added.
I believe that debate and being exposed to differences and understanding these very differences promotes tolerance. For instance, national and international meetings of youth help them interact, exchange experiences, debate ideas, learn about the other’s way of thinking, and style of life. Personally, I used to be less tolerant and only after having the ability to move and meet all kinds of people from different countries and different religious backgrounds that I came to get to see the other side of the coin.
Tolerance and acceptance of the other are values that have to be rooted in our educational system along with media. Instead of using education to promote notions such as nationalism, ethnocentrism, Pan-Arabism, and so forth, they can also use it to promote critical thinking, freedom of speech, open mindedness and tolerance. Media is the other strongest tool that can be used to spread the values of tolerance.