Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Please check this out...

I just wanted to follow up on the email I sent you last week. My organization, International Medical Corps, was nominated to be one of the Top 25 in American Express' Members Projects, "Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children." Our project was chosen out of 1,190 projects and is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million to help feed hungry children, but the voting ends next Tuesday and we need your help to spread the word. I've put together this blogger friendly web release explaining everything.

If you are able to post something on Braveheart Does the Maghreb, please send me the link, it would really help and could potentially save many lives. At the minimum, please vote for "Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children." Please let me know either way. Many thanks.


Monday, 22 September 2008

no words, too pissed!

AG orders probe on fatwa legalizing marriage of nine-year-olds

Rabat, Sept. 22 - A probe was opened Sunday on the fatwa (Islamic decree) legalizing the marriage of nine-year-old girls issued by theologian Mohamed ben Abderrahman Al Maghraoui, judicial sources told MAP.
The probe, ordered by the Attorney General, will look into the fatwa in which Maghraoui said girls of nine years can marry and are able to fulfill "wifely duties just like twenty-year old women."
The fatwa has triggered an overwhelming wave a criticism among child and rights activists, and even among the country's religious scholars.
On Saturday the Higher Council of Ulemas reacted strongly on the fatwa, condemning it as "absurd and abominable," and saying Maghraoui is known for his "subversive and confusion-raising tendencies."
To give more strength to his decree, Maghraoui has cited the case of Prophet Muhammad who had married a nine-year-old girl.
Reacting on the issue, the Council said in a press release the hadiths (prophet sayings) touching on this subject talk rather about the date of the conclusion of the marriage contract, while the marriage itself took place years later.
The Ulemas stressed that no scholar has ever taken these hadiths as a reference, considering them as one of the particularities of the life of the prophet.
Only the Council of Ulamas is entitled to issue fatwas, they said, adding that the legal age of marriage is governed by the Family Code, which was drafted in concert with the scholars and approved by all Moroccans.
The new version of the Family Code, approved in 2004, sets the legal age of marriage at 18 for girls and boys.

Feel free to comment. I'm seething now, will comment later.

Friday, 19 September 2008

just thinking...

The revelation (albeit not surprising) this week that the U.S. is conducting raids inside another sovereign nation’s borders (please quote me the International Law that approves that action) started me thinking about the why and how religion has become a major driving force behind international terrorism, and what are the factors that make religious terrorists different from other terrorists groups with an agenda.

The breakdown of the old conflicts of the cold war gave rise to expectations of a new society that would meet a myriad of needs both in poor and wealthy countries – these expectations were not met and resulted in “the “public sense of insecurity”. This feeling of uncertainty was then accelerated by factors such as population increase, rapid urbanization, and for various reasons the breakdown in public services. In this atmosphere the certainty of religious extremism became more and more attractive.
The post WWII anti-colonialism wars in North Africa and the Middle East left a simmering discontent in some countries and the sense of wrongs (going back to the first Crusades) not addressed in any way that was satisfactory to the populaces.

The feeling of alienation encouraged and fed by religious leaders - Islamic, Christian, Jews, Hindu, other religions and cults - lead followers and potential recruits to turn even more inward to the security of the group. Seeking approval from the group and the recognized leaders in religious garb makes the grooming of martyrs an easier task. The idea of living and dying for a higher purpose rings true for the educated as well as the illiterate.

The Iranian revolution led the way, the vision of the world remade in the vision of Islam. Ten years later none of the world’s major religions were free of the taint of extremism. In 1992 the number of terrorist groups had increased exponentially, and now embraced not only major religions, but also obscure religious sects and cults.

While the conflict in Israel/Palestine continues and feeds the fire of both religious and political extremism, that conflict has remained within its geographical boundaries. However it affects all international and some domestic policy in the area of not only the Middle East, but western nations as well.

When the Arabs of the Mujahadeen were trained and armed in Afghanistan by the United States to fight the Russians there was no way to see that one of the solders, Osama bin Laden would turn so completely against the West. Bin Laden wants all “unclean forces” out of his native Saudi Arabia, a country whose government at least officially, gives him no support, yet his popularity in the Middle East and North Africa remains intact even today. I have seen it here in Morocco.

An important tenet of this way of living in the world is seeing the enemy as anyone outside their religion or sect
Seeing the enemy as less than human,
Seeing the orders to kill the enemy as originating in Holy Text or as a personal call from their god which not only justifies their actions but allows them to take whatever actions seem most effective no matter how brutal or destructive, leading to more heinous acts of violence and a greater number of dead.
The more dead the better, they have no political agenda that calls for future compromise so there is no need, and no time they need to present themselves as an alternative; but rather the agenda is to completely wipe out the enemy and replace them.

Unlike secular/political terrorist groups where a particular need or policy could be addressed and compromise reached, “Perhaps the most sobering realization in confronting religious terrorism is that the threat – and the problems that fuel it – can never be eradicated completely.”
When terrorist acts are motivated in part or entirely by religion, where violence is seen as a religious duty divinely inspired, calls are made on different justification than the secular counterparts. These features lead in turn to increased bloodshed and destruction without remorse. These are the problems we have to confront if we have any hope of ending the terror.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

the unexpected pleasures

I’m still blushing a little bit from the pleasure of it. A lovely young woman named K. (in case she doesn’t want her identity spread about cyberspace) approached me at bert’s and asked, “Are you Braveheart?”
“My friends and I read your blog. It’s too bad you are leaving Morocco.”
“Yes, it’s time to go. I imagine I’ll keep the blog name the same, just the geography will change.”

I felt like a mini-celebrity, which is about as much notoriety as I will ever be comfortable with I think. Thank you K. for making my day.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Life is in the details

As I entered the section of the gym that leads downstairs to the ladies dressing room, the spa, salon, and hammam I noted that my way was lined with rose petals and candles. Well I like this fine I thought to myself, down the stairs and as I am about to turn into the corridor for the dressing room and hammam I came very near to running smack dab into two huge, really huge black men in really well cut suits – so I knew right away they did not work for the U.S. government or the British Secret Service.

As it turns out the Princess of the Congo was in the hammam. I didn’t know there was a princess of the Congo. I’m happy for her but was happier that she was out by the time I finished my workout and it was time for MY hammam.

And after the Princess of the Congo incident. I came home to the Oudayas and proceeded to one (I try to spread my dirhams about) of my favourite hannouts and was accosted by a rather large and scary chap who was insistent to the point of rudeness, even for a Moroccan, that I accompany him home to break the fast “with [his] mother”, right. I was using all my “go away” techniques while remaining polite, but was on the verge of being rude when the shopkeeper had apparently heard enough. ‘Stop bothering her. You can see you are frightening her. Go home.’ All this in Darija. You must understand this shopkeeper is verging on ninety and has the appearance of a well worn branch of mahogany and the bothersome chap was about 6’2” and burly. So I stood quietly and let the chap play hero and the big guy hung his head and slunk away home. It was lovely! The look of male satisfaction on the face of the old man was priceless. I made my thank you-s and went home smiling.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

It's good to be loved..

My fabulous roomie, the delectable A. found me a wireless cafe in Agdal, serving cafe au lait to the infidels during Ramadan! I love that boy.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

It's good to be King

The King is coming to the Oudayas today - I left - too many chaps with guns. I'm a bit miffed that they have been tarting up the Oudayas for weeks now - and now I find out it's all for his visit. Doesn't sit well with me. I may be a monarchist, but I like a benevolent and conscientious monarch.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

It's Ramadan

2 September 2008

Oh yes it is indeed Ramadan. Once the sun set not a soul was indoors! I forget from one year to the next just how crowded the Medina becomes at night. Remember that Star Trek episode where Kirk was trapped on the planet in a mock up of the Enterprise with the pretty girl who wanted him to 'infect' her because no one could die on the planet. And when he could see through the windows you saw all the bodies pressed against the glass - that's the Medina tonight. You have to get into a current of people and just go with the flow.

Then Rachid at Café Arab was trying to convince me that Yemen is a garden spot and lone women are welcome and safe. Yes, well good luck with that. I spent some time in Beirut and since that time am leery of men selling bridges, or garden spots.

And the streets of the city are not much less crowded. A taxi you say? Lots of luck with that. I did finally manage to secure one after warning off two young bucks with a look that said, 'Back off or die young'. I did not want to face the walk through the Medina again, and not this late. Normally I'm not worried but I do not like having my laptop out this late... Too tempting.

A matter of timing. Morocco changed the bloody time zone thing on me again. I arrived at the gym at what I thought was 1130 hours to discover it is 1030 hours where NOTHING is open in Morocco especially during Ramadan. Fortunately I took myself over to Mega Mall where the café shop is not open but the table, the a/c, and the Internet are! Considerate eh?

I apologize to you my lovely readers for not being more attentive but Internet access is difficult to come by and with Ramadan on even more so. I have my airline tickets for Paris and then points West – at which time I will have unfettered access – oh joy and rapture! I shall then again bend your ear daily. Thank you for your attention and patience.