Thursday, October 08, 2015

A Fascinating Glimpse of Fez

The Fez City Kings have produced an interesting glimpse of our favourite Moroccan city

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Winning the War Against ISIS

Morocco's security forces have established a strong reputation for acting swiftly to break up extremist cells and arresting those involved in recruiting for Daesh (ISIS)

Morocco and Spain are working closely together on security issues

The Moroccans are also working closely with security forces in Europe including in France, Belgium, Holland and Spain.

On Sunday Spanish and Moroccan authorities arrested 10 suspects with links to the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS).

Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the Spanish Interior Minister, said this network was especially focused on recruiting women. Four of the arrests, two men and two women, took place in Spain, while the remaining six detentions were in Casablanca.

The women arrested in Spain were both Moroccans, while one of the men was a Spanish national of Moroccan ancestry and the other a Portuguese citizen converted to Islam. The group is notorious for its brutality and many human rights violations, as well as for recruiting people from all over the world via social networks.

According to the mayor of Xeraco in Valencia, where police operations lasted from 5.30-9 a.m. local time [0330-0700 GMT] Sunday, one of those detained is a girl around 20 years old, who is believed to have been living with her parents.

Investigators seized documents from the suspects and will be analysing them, Fernandez Diaz said. By the end of September, Spain had been involved in the arrest of 71 suspected Islamist militants at home and abroad, up from 46 in the whole of 2014, according to interior ministry figures.

Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) is credited with being at the front line in the campaign against extremism and has been praised for its intelligence gathering and swift operations. The BCIJ was only set up in March 2015 but within days had been making major arrests (See story here).

Back in September the BCIJ displayed weapons, ammunition, tasers, swords and bomb-making materials seized from the jihadists.

BCIJ Director Abdelhak Khiame

“The weapons came to Morocco through the eastern borders with Algeria,” BCIJ director Abdelhak Khiame said. The jihadists had pledged allegiance to ISIL and planned to call their affiliate the Caliphate Soldiers in Morocco, Khiame said.

Officials said the five-member terror cell, one of a number recently dismantled in Morocco, was operating in the southern city of Essaouira and the central town of Sidi Allal al-Bahraoui.

At the same time Morocco is said to be assisting the French in air strikes against Daesh is Syria. On September 27th, one year after the launch of the international coalition, France launched strikes against a training camp for fighters of the terrorist organisation in the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, in the east of the country.

Moroccan fighter jets may be assisting the French

Almost two weeks later, the Moroccan weekly Al Ousboue Assahafi, citing a "Western source", suggested that F-16 combat aircraft of the Moroccan air force based in the UAE had provided support in the bombing. The Moroccan media does not specify the nature of the assistance provided by the Moroccan forces but it is accepted that a military cooperation agreement was sealed in Tangier on 19 and 20 September, on the occasion of discussions between the French president and King Mohammed VI.

The Moroccan newspaper says that this alliance between Rabat and Paris is a reaction to Daesh consolidating its Moroccan and French fighters in a single unit whose members train in a camp in Raqqa. The large number of jihadists from the two countries is thought to be between 800 and 1000 for the French and 1200-1400 for Moroccans.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Lalla Salma Foundation Celebrates 10 Years

Congratulations are due to Princess Lalla Salma for her work in the struggle against cancer. Since its inception in 2005 the Lalla Salma Foundation has made the fight against cancer a public health priority in Morocco. During these ten years the Foundation has provided significant efforts to improve the care of patients and give them new hope

Princess Lalla Salma visiting an oncology centre

On Saturday, for the tenth anniversary, HRH Princess Lalla Salma chaired a gala night in Marrakech. Under the title of  "A gift for life" the gala dinner raised 150 million dirhams.

The funds will be dedicated to the creation of an oncology centre in Beni Mellal. In a speech, HRH Princess Lalla Salma said: "The cancer centre will allow mothers to heal, fathers to continue to support their families and children to regain their health and continue their normal life to build a better future."

Since its inception in 2005 the Foundation has assisted cancer patients treated in public cancer centres giving them have access to 100% of available anticancer drugs. Over that time 1.2 billion dirhams has been raised for the purchase of medicines.

The Foundation also conducted several awareness campaigns and prevention to encourage Moroccans to be more attentive to their bodies and to get tested before it is too late.

Through education programmes 1.5 million college students and high school students have been made aware of cancer and each year 1 million women are screened and 200,000 patients receive medical attention.

The oncology centre at the  Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) Mohammed VI in Marrakech 

The Foundation has worked hard to alleviate the suffering of patients and significantly improve conditions for their care through the creation of several health facilities including twenty-four early detection centres. Thirteen new centres are in the planning stage.

Six mobile units have been established, nine new specialty hospitals have been built and four others are in preparation. The creation of accommodation houses in several cities of the Kingdom has helped to ease the burden of patients by hosting with their families during the period of outpatient treatment. These structures provide patients regular monitoring of their treatment and accompany patients by providing them the necessary moral and psychological support.

In cancer research, 14 research projects have been funded to date. In terms of training related to the fight against cancer, the Foundation has trained 500 health professionals during the past decade.

The Lalla Salma Foundation is currently considered a pioneer in the fight against cancer in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa (MEA) through the leadership role played by HRH Princess Lalla Salma internationally.

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Seffarine Gets a Makeover

Place Seffarine is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the old Medina of Fez. With its large central plane tree giving a little shade, it is an ideal place to spend some time and soak up the atmosphere of the medina

On one side of the square is the Kairaouine Library; on the other, the Seffarine Medersa, and all around are coppersmiths hammering their wares into shape: huge cauldrons, stills for making rosewater, kettles, pots and samovars.

Now the square is getting a makeover. The row of small shops are being refurbished in traditional style and the Restaurant Seffarine, with its panoramic terrace, is now open to visitors wanting to rest a while and have a snack. For those who simply want mint tea or a coffee the Cremerie La Place is still in business at the Kairaouine end of the square, opposite the street leading down to the tanneries.

Restaurant Seffarine is situated above the copper souk
Restoration and renewal of the small shops continues
The roof of the Seffarine Hammam

According to the University of Liverpool, the Seffarine Hammam "should be restored as one of the most interesting public baths in Fez, especially with regard to the undressing room of its historical section, as this is one of the rare meshlah of the city that still preserves the original layout and decorative features. It also displays the traditional Roman hypocaust heating system and the original furnace.

The practice of going to the hammam is, in fact, still very popular in Morocco, in contrast with other Mediterranean areas. In particular, in Fez this is evident not only in poor areas, but also in recently developed wealthy quarters, where new hammams are still being built, in spite of the fact that the existing dwellings have their own private bathroom conveniences.

Restaurant Seffarine is the brainchild of the owners of the very popular Cremerie La Place. They have capitalised on the view of the copper souk in one direction and the Seffarine Hammam in the other.

  "Visitors get the spectacular view for free" - Mustapha

Mustapha, who runs the Cremerie, told The View From Fez that Seffarine needed a proper restaurant. "Not expensive. Main courses around fifty dirhams and they get the spectacular view for free!"

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