Amid seemingly unbridgeable political hostilities between Morocco and Algeria, artists in both countries have often celebrated shared historical and cultural roots, calling for dialogue and peace.
Rabat – Cheb Khaled, Algeria’s world-renowned and celebrated Rai-style singer, has sparked controversy for appearing to sympathize with the Moroccan Atlas Lions over his own country’s football team.
The King of Rai, as the Algerian star is endearingly called by fans of the musical genre, unveiled his latest single in late June on the heels of the ongoing African Cup of Nations.
The single, titled “Morocco 4 Ever,” reads like a declaration of love to the Moroccan football team, in addition to highlighting Khaled’s attachment to Morocco, a country he often refers to as a “sister nation” to Algeria and whose people he has repeatedly called “brothers and sisters” of Algerians.
In the video of Morocco 4 ever, Khaled is seen draped in the Moroccan flag as the video background plays flashes of goals by the Moroccan football team.
Unsurprisingly, the gesture did not sit well with some Algerian nationalist circles.
In a short but excoriating article published on July 3, Algerian Arab-language news outlet Ennahar castigated the singer for heaping praise on the Moroccan national team rather than on his own country’s.
Since Algerian players are taking part in the same tournament (CAN) as the Moroccans, Ennahar’s article lashed out, Khalid “should have rather sung for your own country’s national team.”
Morocco and Algeria both topped their groups at the ongoing CAN tournament. They won all three of their group matches and made a winning impression on CAN watchers, many of whom now consider the two North African teams among the favorites to lift the continental trophy.
Morocco’s Atlas Lions are set to play against Benin a 5.p.m today in the tournament’s first round of 16 games, while Algeria prepares to take on Guinea on Sunday, July 7, at 8 p.m. Moroccan time.
Khaled’s latest single is not without precedent.
The Algerian singer, whom King Mohammed VI granted Moroccan citizenship in 2013 for his fondness for Morocco and keen interest in social peace and stability among Maghreb countries, has a strong record of Morocco-friendly declarations.
In April of 2018, while praising Moroccans’ hospitality and easy-going nature, Khaled singularly cited Morocco’s support for Algerian independence as one of the many reasons he loves Morocco.
“Moroccan blood poured for Algeria,” the Algerian star explained. He added, perhaps more significantly, “We are brothers, we have the same traditions and we share the same language.”