Footloose but not fancy free: Dancing in Morocco

By Alexis Miller. Photos by Alexandria Saurman

Rabat — “I don’t get paid for this and I don’t think I would want to be…,” Hajar Regragui says while unlocking the door to the dance studio at International University of Rabat (UIR). She’s about to teach 60 college students choreographed dance routines in various styles: Hip-hop, African inspired dance, and Salsa. The course lasts three hours and is completely a labor of love. She seems to look happiest when drenched in sweat.

Hajar Regragui is a 21-year-old political science and international relations student at UIR, but she introduced herself to me first and foremost as a dancer and told me about her favorite spots in Casablanca for dancing.

Read more

Moroccan Science Students are Confused–Arabic, French or English?

Story by Soukaina El Ouaai 

RABAT, Morocco – Ismail Chaabi, 18, is a first year biology student at Mohammed V University. The souvenir of getting his baccalaureate degree is still fresh and so is the disappointment of not studying elsewhere, because his French and English levels aren’t good enough.

Ismail didn’t choose to go to Mohammed V University, but he got rejected from every school he applied for because they require a good foreign languages level. And since he didn’t have any other choice, it was this, or staying home.

“I don’t feel like I belong here” he said, “Many students at my University don’t care about their studies, and don’t even attend courses.

Read more

Moroccan locals participate in world-wide social experiment

By Kayla Dwyer, photos by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

RABAT, Morocco — “You felt weird vibrations between you and the other person,” said Bouchra Zidaoui, 30, pictured above left. “We don’t usually look at each other’s eyes.”

But Zidaoui, of Rabat, did just that — for one uninterrupted minute with 19-year-old Basma Boujendar, right, on the grass outside the Comedy Cafe off Mohamed V Avenue in the center of Rabat, Morocco’s capital. Nearly 100 people joined her on October 15 in Rabat for what’s being called “the world’s biggest eye contact experiment” by The Liberators International, a social movement that organizes public events encouraging people to connect.

Read more

Morocco’s Tcharmils ‘consider jail home’


This article was published in Al Jazeera on Feb. 27, 2015. Read it HERE.

CASABLANCA, Morocco – Fifteen young men crowd around a doorway separating them from a packed courtroom in Casablanca. Each time the guard opens the door, they wave to anxious friends and family. One by one, each man comes out, and the judge reads aloud his charges: robbery, assault and possession of swords or knives in public, carrying sentences of a year or more in prison.

The men, who were convicted and sentenced late last year, are part of a group known as the Tcharmil – a word taken from the spicy charmoula sauce common in Moroccan cooking.

Read more

Another shore: Morocco’s child migrants


This article was published in Al Jazeera on Jan. 30, 2015. Read it HERE.

Tangier, Morocco – Saber first decided that he wanted to live in Spain when he was 10 years old. Hoping for a better life on another shore, he began to think of migration and of leaving his family behind in Morocco.

Now 13, rosy-cheeked and rustling in a thin yellow windbreaker, he stands with his friends at a stone lookout nestled high in Tangier’s medina, watching the sprawling ferry port across the street.

Read more