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					Society                                                                           24 North Africa Times                                                                  Sunday 02-08/12/2007


Moroccan Projects Target Social Deprivation
A
         lthough Morocco has undertaken             opment network established last year brings
         major social reforms, both public and      together researchers, civil society actors,
         private efforts have failed to eliminate   administrative decision-makers and private
social deprivation. According to Minister for       enterprises.
Social Development, Families and Solidarity            Guedira stressed that despite setbacks,
Abderrahim Harouchi, insufficient economic           there is cause to celebrate advances made in
growth, high birth rates and the sluggish de-       the fields of health, education, housing, ac-
velopment of rural areas have diminished the        cess to basic services, pensions and social
effectiveness of public policy.                     security as well as the emergence and dyna-
   These figures bear witness to a number of         mism of civil society and women’s move-
social problems. According to official statis-       ments.
tics, the poverty rate is 14.2%, unemploy-             Sociology professor Jamal Maktoum said
ment is at 9.6%, and illiteracy is remains at       Morocco has displayed great dynamism in its
40%. Mohamed Najib Guedira, director of             development, particularly since the launch of
the social development agency, points out           the National Initiative for Human Develop-
that development is everyone’s concern.             ment (INDH) in May 2005.
"The fight against poverty starts with im-              "The INDH is a major conceptual turning
proving incomes. We must not only make up           point in public policy in the field of human
the deficit in material provision but also in        and social development." Maktoum said.
terms of income," he said.                          "But everyone’s efforts need to be combined
   The social development agency's role is          if we are to fight social problems such as un-
to assist social projects in even the most far-     employment and poverty."
flung communes. Two thirds of its projects              In the year following its inception, the
are run by associations.                            INDH began 1,104 projects.
   "Most associations are not working col-             More than 6,000 were undertaken in 2006
lectively," Guedira said. "But over the past        and it is expected that the number of projects
two years, we have seen a new situation: as-        will reach 7,000 in 2007. So far, the INDH
sociations are starting to network to enhance       has spent approximately two billion dirhams
their effectiveness." A national social devel-      on projects.                                       The poverty rate in Morocco is 14.2%




Iqbal Gharbi Calls for Feminine Islam
D
          uring a seminar, on the        are finalities in Islam that are not     woman imams? Why do we en-
          theme “Islam: Single and       suitable for all times and places and   dorse the exclusion of women from
          Multiple”, organised in late   do not transcend their current reali-   the sacred sphere?”
October by Tunis’s Zeitouna Uni-         ties. The most important thing is to       Opposing claims that feminine
versity, Dr. Iqbal Gharbi, professor     reconcile Islam today with global       Islam could increase the intensity
of Sharia and Religious Principles,      values, since gender equality, for      of divisions among Muslims today,
invited for what she called a femi-      example, has now become an im-          Gharbi indicated, “On the contrary.
nine reading of the Holy Scriptures      portant and established value in our    We are now living what is called
in order to reconcile Islam and          contemporary life.”                     a conflict of civilizations and cul-
modern global values.                        She added, “The most prominent      tures. This conflict often becomes
   Gharbi explained that the Femi-       women defending feminine Islam          a conflict of religions. Islam is
nine or women’s Islam is a feminine      employ modern sciences, such as         usually taken as one side, in other
reading of the Holy Scriptures. It is    religious history, linguistics, and     words, a coherent unit that has no
a reading that attempts to reconcile     comparative religion in order to        contradictions or different currents.
Islam with modern global values,         prove that these verses do not tran-    On the contrary, Islam is, and here
especially in terms of gender equal-     scend time and place, and that we       I remember what thinker Edward
ity and women’s rights, according        can change and develop these read-      Said said, “When we talk about
to her.                                  ings towards the feminine progres-      Islam, we often, unfortunately, for-
   Highlighting that the idea is no      sive reading.”                          get the place and time. Islam has
new, Gharbi pointed that, “This              Clarifying if feminine Islam sup-   multiple facets, and it is related
feminine Islamic current started in      ports women leading prayers even        to the economic, political and cul-
the 1990s. In fact, it appeared all      for mixed congregations, Gharbi         tural surrounding in which it devel-
over the world; in the East as in the    explained, “The first woman to           oped.” When we remember all that,
West.                                    lead people in prayers was Amina        we come to realise that there is
   There are strong currents found       Wadud, an African American wom-         only one Islam in terms of worship      The feminine Islamic current started in the 1990s
in Iran, America, Malaysia, Paki-        an and daughter of a Christian cler-    and spiritual dimensions. As for        rent of backwardness which seeks              Gharbi highlighted the impor-
stan, and South Africa and all these     ic. She used to prepare lectures on     daily practices, they are multiple.     to return to the past; that illusion-      tance of establishing dialogue
currents are trying to overcome the      Martin Luther King with her father      There isn’t an only reading of the      ary past, in other words, dreaming         within the Islamic religion, and
basic contradiction between the          and that was why she embraced the       religious texts. Even Ali Ibn Abi       about things in history that never         with other religions. She said, “Of
spiritual values of Islam, which         values of equality and justice. That    Taleb said the Qur’an is capable        took place.”                               course, dialogue is not an intel-
calls for equality among all, human      was also why she was the first fe-       of different aspects. Since the birth       Gharbi added, “In this frame-          lectual luxury. Dialogue today is
dignity and the principle of respon-     male imam of a mixed-gender con-        of Islam, there have been readings,     work, we have to say that globali-         a pressing need. Islamic-Christian
sibility, and between the realities of   gregation in South Africa in 1995.      contradictions and intellectual con-    sation boosts such a phenomenon.           dialogue is important. Dialogue
the sixth century AD.”                   Afterwards she did the same in the      flicts; something that represents the    To many, globalisation heralds             among the Muslim sects is very
   On the reconciliation of Islam        United States.                          wealth and richness of Islam.”          the danger of the disintegration of        important.
and global values, Gharbi indicat-           What I want to say is that texts       Reacting to the Salafist current      identities, cultures and nationali-           Let’s bear in mind that the real
ed, “Feminine Islam has in mind          are not clear in this field. When we     which still insists that women suf-     ties. All this is met with a reaction      conflict today is not a Christian-
the historical reading, a relative       remember that Prophet Mohamed           fer from shortages both in mind and     that Sigmund Freud call narcis-            Muslim one; nor a Sunni-Shiite
reading, which contradicts with          said women are sisters of men, that     religion, Gharbi indicated, “There      sism of minor differences. Thus,           one. Rather, it is the conflict be-
the literal reading of the text. This    God created all human beings from       have always been conflicting cur-        we cling to that sick identity; that       tween progress, between human-
means that we take these verses in       one soul, and that human dignity is     rents. On the one hand, there is the    ill identity which excludes others         ism and animalism, between cul-
their historical and geographical        not divisible, when we remember         current of progress and modernity.      and excludes the essence of global         ture and barbarism. This is the real
context and we consider that there       all these values, why do we deny        On the other hand, there is the cur-    values.”                                   conflict”.

				
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Description: Although Morocco has undertaken