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”.