L’abîme entre le Morocain et le livre

In TelQuel last week (no. 541, 26 October 2012) there was an interview with two outstanding  Paris-based Moroccan novelists – Tahar Ben Jelloun and Abdellah Taïa. They met in Ben Jelloun’s Latin Quarter flat to discuss writing, Morocco and politics. I shan’t attempt to summarize a long and absorbing conversation; but there is one central … More L’abîme entre le Morocain et le livre

Hairy Sun Goddess

There has been an interesting ding-dong in the last few days over the supposed destruction of an ancient Amazigh rock-carving in the Toubkal National Park. The carving depicts the sun “as a divinity” and reports, which seem to come originally from Amazigh activists, imply that local Salafists have destroyed it. Except that they don’t seem to … More Hairy Sun Goddess

Where Rabat Meets Salé

One of the loveliest urban views in the world is the panorama of Salé seen across the Bouregreg valley from Rabat. The two cities straddle the estuary, each a tumbled sugar-box of white houses, minarets and splashes of green tiled roof surrounded by dun, crenellated walls. From Rabat, across the bleak salt-flats, Salé is skirted … More Where Rabat Meets Salé

Pot Pourri

A few odds and ends that seem worth recording between slightly more substantial stuff. Today in the Guardian a remarkable story to remind us of the power of the septième art  – an account of secret cinema in Saudi Arabia, a clandestine film-showing announced by text message to a select audience who are then piloted … More Pot Pourri

Parlers Patois

Arabic is the second most widely used language in France, with four million speakers, and has been recognized as a langue de France since 1999. An article by Emmanuel Talon in October’s Le Monde Diplomatique (which I missed in my last post because it isn’t in the English edition) looks at the predicament of Arabic … More Parlers Patois

LMD and acorns

It’s striking how, with a few honourable exceptions, the British press skates lightly over events in North Africa, with coverage that is often cultural and picturesque as much as critically informative; and as for the Sahel, we read very little indeed of real interest, at a time when it is becoming more important than it … More LMD and acorns

Gabriel Veyre and forgotten colours

There’s a famous photograph of Moulay Abdel Aziz, reproduced in many Moroccan histories, and in editions of Walter Harris, who wrote amusingly, if sometimes disparagingly, about the Sultan. It was taken in 1901 at Marrakech by a French photographer called Gabriel Veyre, who worked for the Sultan between 1901 and 1905. Veyre’s life is interesting, … More Gabriel Veyre and forgotten colours

Filming the Revolution

Almost a year ago the British Council ran a cinema project here in Rabat with ISCA, the Rabat film school, and the Scottish Documentary Institute. Two wonderful directors came out to work with ISCA students, running a short course in making documentary court metrage films. The constraints of a 5-minute film were unfamiliar – to … More Filming the Revolution

Critical Muslims

This post is an unashamed plug for a new quarterly publication that has come out in Britain in the last year, and is now in its fourth number. It’s called Critical Muslim, and it is edited by my friend Ziauddin Sardar. In describing it, I can’t do much better than quoting Zia’s own words on … More Critical Muslims