Comparing Fruit Baskets (apples, oranges…get it?)

I plan to work on explaining the vast misconceptions that exist about Moroccans in more detail. There are a lot. Especially as it relates to women, and Berbers.  There are a lot of misconceptions about Morocco in general. Suffice it to say for now;
  • Morocco is mostly Berber
  • Berbers are (mostly) Muslim
  • Arabs are (mostly) Muslim
  • Berbers are NOT Arabs
Much of where the misconceptions come into play is in cultural differences between Berbers and Arabs. And also between right and left. (A battle playing out in the US now too). It is a fine line between Berbers and Arabs, but its a solid line, and its pretty clear once you start to understand. It is, in my humble opinion, what makes Morocco such an interesting and highly liveable country. More on that as we move forward.
Having been here for 3 months altogether, I have listened to and been part of some really interesting discussions. Moroccan Berbers love to discuss their culture and compare it to the west. I listen with great interest to these discussions, and I can honestly say that things are pretty much the same everywhere. People make their point, “this is what happens here, its not like that in the west.” But wait. Yes it is. For the most part, we are all part of the human experience and we have a whole lot in common. More than you might realize.
I will explain. It is important to note that you can’t paint ANY “people” with a broad brush. Whenever I hear a sentence that starts with, “all Moroccans ….” I stop listening. Its like saying ALL Muslims, or ALL Republicans. Its just dangerous. Generalizations are a straight road to misunderstanding. It has been my observation, that in any moderate society, you can find examples of all different types of behaviour. Note that I said MODERATE. I’m talking about moderate west, moderate Morocco, moderate Europe. MOD-ER-ATE.
First thing, there is a big difference between urban Morocco and rural Morocco. Modern v traditional. My generation v my parents generation. Casablanca v Imlil. New York v Georgia. Alabama v Colorado. Harper v Trudeau. Clinton v Trump. (See where I’m going?)
Take arranged marriage for example. It exists in Morocco. Yes it does. Largely in rural areas. Is it practiced by every family? No. It is traditionally an arrangement made between two families that will benefit both families financially. Or from a security perspective. Or a productivity perspective. Oh Morocco how could you possibly say you are forward thinking when you have arranged marriage? In poorer, more rural areas, among more traditional families.
Have you seen “Princess Bride”? Have you heard for Edward VIII who abdicated the throne in order to marry someone NOT arranged for him? It happens ALL the time and in ALL societies. It is more common here than in the west but it is not as common as you might think.
In Morocco, men dictate whether a woman should cover or not. Oh Morocco, how can you say you are forward thinking when men have such control over women?
First of all, that is not true in Morocco. Much of the time women choose to cover because of their own religious choice. Its more similar to being vegetarian based on your value system, than being controlled by a man. And secondly, how many Western men insist their wives where heels? Or tight pants? Or lots of makeup? Or conversely to dress more modestly when out in public. How many western men insist that their wives can’t work outside the home?
Moroccans have multiple wives. Certainly that is not forward thinking. Ok, so, no they don’t. Not commonly. In modern times most Moroccans do not have multiple wives. In the Qu’ran it is noted that you may have up to 4 wives. But if you go beyond that sentence and read the whole paragraph, you will find it is not recommended, because only the true Prophet is really capable of handling multiple wives.
And, uh, Sister Wives???? It exists in the west too folks so take your judgy pants off and let’s be honest about these things.
Women aren’t allowed to drive in Morocco. How archaic is that? What? Have you been here? Women drive. They own cars. And scooters. They drive all the time. Some shouldn’t. But neither should some men.
So what I am driving at (ha, I do crack myself up sometimes), is that much of the behaviour you associate with Morocco is mistaken. It may well be the case in Saudi Arabia. It may be case in UAE. It most likely is often the case in more right leaning Muslim countries. But not in Morocco. Morocco is a moderate, primarily Berber culture. Berbers revere women. Men in the south of Morocco wear full cover, and women do not cover at all. Morocco is progressive and while certainly not fully western it is much more liberal than “Arab East” countries. So when you are thinking about some of these “Muslim” stereotypes, please understand this;
  • Morocco is mostly Berber
  • Berbers are (mostly) Muslim
  • Arabs are (mostly) Muslim
  • Berbers are NOT Arabs

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