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Eric: Moroccan Music & GLBT Issues

July 15, 2010

Today we talked about music in our Moroccan Society & Culture class. Not traditional music, but rap music. Personally not a fan of rap, I found it interesting that rap is actually quite popular in Morocco. We were introduced to Don Bigg  (we watched a video about him), pioneer of Moroccan rap. A very politically active man, even though not associated with any political parties, Don Bigg raps about problems in Morocco in Moroccan Arabic—the first to do so. Like him, many Moroccan rappers use rap as a medium to send out a message: Moroccans should united as one and work together for the better future of the kingdom. Often their lyrics criticize the political situation or certain attitudes of Muslims. Religious groups have criticized them as bad influence on the minds of Moroccan youth, which only makes them even more popular.

We then went on to discuss Moroccans’ attitudes toward the gay and lesbian. The answer is quite straightforward: not tolerated. As the Qu’ran explicitly contains verses forbidding homosexuality, the kingdom doesn’t approve of the affection between same gender individuals. Obviously it still exists in Morocco, but it’s considered to be a taboo subject, and people just don’t talk about it. Our teacher told us that publicly displaying affection for individuals of the same sex could result in being arrested and sent to jail. How they actually execute this I have no idea. One important thing though: holding hands together on the street is not a sign of homosexuality. It merely means that the two people are very good friends, and holding hands is just a sign of friendship. A Moroccan gay organization known as “Kif Kif (“the same” in Moroccan Arabic) does exist, thought its founder is said to be abroad in Spain in fear for being arrested.

Combining the two topics together, our teacher mentioned that just a month ago, Sir Elton John was invited to perform in Rabat. An internationally-acclaimed musician, Moroccans anticipated his arrival. Yet as more and more newspapers reported on his sexuality, the religious groups tried to stop him from coming (using the same argument mentioned above). He came anyway and was a big hit. The young people of Morocco really didn’t if he’s a homosexual or heterosexual—they just want to listen to his music. I guess this really is reflecting what Morocco is like: the younger generation, which is better educated and more tolerant to new ideas, is becoming the main voice of the public and the authorities and religious groups are trying to find a way to protect the traditional and conservative values, even though more and more radical ideas are challenging them. Who knows what will happen in 50 years?

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