Morocco: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Morocco, Casablanca home to the brothel Bousbir, Spain and the Moorish influence, government beauracracy, Muslim culture.

MOROCCO

NOTES

The city of Casablanca, where the Humphrey Bogart film Casablanca has never been allowed to be shown, boasts the largest and most spectacular brothel in the world-Bousbir.

Morocco is that part of Africa which is closest to Europe. The Atlas Mountains separate the country from Saharan Africa to the south and Arab Africa to the east. Consequently Morocco looks as much across the Gibraltar Strait to Christian Spain as to the Arab East. The stamp of Spain is unmistakable: Parts of Marrakesh look like its sister city Seville.

Westerners and Arabs alike know Moorish history blended generously with myth from the Arabian Nights. One well-known figure from these stories is Harun el Rashid, who poisoned the 1st Sultan-founder of the Moroccan Empire in 788-by sending him a fragrant but deadly perfume. Yet the most fiendish character of all was Sultan Moulay Ismail, a contemporary of Louis XIV, one of whose daughters the Sultan wanted to marry. In building his new capital near Fez he wanted to outdo Versailles. The new stables were 3 mi. long and lodged 1,200 horses. If slaves did not work on the project industriously, he had them cemented into the walls. Of his several hundred thousand slaves, 25,000 were captured Christians. His courtiers had to catch his saliva before it reached the ground whenever he spat and preserve his excrement to give out as tokens of his love for ladies in the harem. Although he is said to have killed 36,000 people with his own hand, Moulay was also a devout and accomplished theologian, who tried to convert England's James II to Islam.

A group that is largely resented is the Moroccan bureaucracy, which requires continual palm-greasing in order for anything to function. Economic enterprises are expected to pay various sorts of protection money. Jewish enterprises find it convenient to operate under Muslim "umbrellas." At the head of the bureaucracy is the King. The turnover is very high as civil servants are made to realize that they have not earned their positions but hold them only because of the King's favor. Hassan once remarked in an interview: "If one day all my ministers resigned, I would say to my chauffeur, be minister." The prevalent attitude in the bureaucracy seems to be: Get yours while you can.

More and more, women are lifting their veils in defiance of Muslim custom and romantic love is gaining ground. Polygamy is now too expensive except for the wealthiest of pashas, so wealthier families are now insisting on marriage contracts to protect the interests of their daughters. More and more girls go to school, attend movies alone, and join feminist groups in the cities. Still, the price for liberation is high: Muslim men still look with deep suspicion-for "suspicion" read "fear"-upon the liberated Moroccan woman.

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