Being a (Secret) Atheist in a Country Full of Faith

RABAT–A café on the hem of Rabat’s medina basks in its atmosphere of quiet anonymity. This suits Mohamed Abdallah, a 27-year-old translator born and raised a few short alley twists away. He shifts a bit uneasily in his sun-drenched seat by the window, his sharp brown eyes scanning the space for possible eavesdroppers.

“I hope no one here speaks English,” Abdallah  says apprehensively. Though the small cafe is sparsely populated, its patrons preoccupied and noises soft, the conversation that is about to ensue makes him uneasy. Abdallah is an atheist, a belief that carries heavy implications in a country built on Islam.

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SIT Alumna Writes About the Homestay Experience

Alumna Anna Bongardino (Spring 2018) published this essay on the homestay experience in the PittNews. She is featured above with her homestay brother and sister.

I could hear the rhythmic chant of the afternoon adhan — the Islamic call to worship — ring out from the tinny rooftop speakers of nearby mosques from my second story bedroom in the city center of Rabat, Morocco. After the call to prayer subsided, a Moroccan woman who looked to be a few years younger than my mother walked through the door of my new bedroom and wrapped me in an affectionate embrace.

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‘Hey, sexy’: Long road ahead to combat sexual harassment in Morocco

By Olivia Lewis

This article was published in Middle East Eye. See it here: https://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/morocco-sexual-harassment-2007805324

CASABLANCA, Morocco – Book bag in tow, Wissale Elhaial, 20, pins her eyes straight ahead as she strides past cafes where men congregate in Casablanca’s downtown area.

Vendors entice customers to their halal stands; some call out for her, but not to tempt her with the spiced aroma of falafel.

“Hey, sexy.”

“Praise God! You’re so beautiful!”

“Come here! I would just like to talk to you!”

Elhaial tries to ignore them, but finds herself glaring, and says she sometimes wishes she wore a headscarf, though she doesn’t really think it would make much difference.

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Out in the Cold: Development Transforms Moroccan City But Doesn’t Address Most Difficult Problems

This article was published in U.S. News and World Report. Find it here: “Out in the Cold

By Olivia Fore

RABAT, MOROCCO – AT night under the orange light of new street lamps, residents stroll along the Bouregreg River. Vendors sell toys and kites; children ride miniature cars on the pavement and musicians entertain a friendly audience.

A new Grand Theater, still under construction, looms in the shadows. A new bridge extends tram service to commuters from the city of Salé, across the river.

The five-year “Rabat City of Lights” program launched in 2014 aims to put Morocco‘s administrative capital on equal footing with other major world cities by “promoting its cultural heritage, preserving green space, improving the economy, access to social services, governance and road infrastructure,” according to the country’s Ministry of Culture and Communication.

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