Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Thursday, July 27, 2006


That's the number of my official signature on the books at the Baladiyya-Chellah in south-western downtown Tangier (municipal services office). I assume the numbering begins anew each month.

My landlady had already registered her signature on the rental contract, but I had to as well (with another 2 dirham tax stamp, three more official rubber stamps and one more official's initials). I then took the contract to the copy shop and got two copies. Then I went back and stood in line for the photocopy to be legalized, which meant it got four more rubber stamps and another official's initials. (I had already had the copies of my other other official documents legalized early that morning.)

Then I took my entire packet over to immigration to submit for my residency application.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Hezbollians Are Coming!

I really didn't want to address the latest edition of "Open-Mike-Gate" (AKA "The Shit Heard Round the World"), but Language Log and my mother have brought to my attention the emergence of the Hezbollian Menace. Here's the full selection:

"Listen, Syria is trying to get back into Lebanon, it looks like to me. We passed United Nations Resolution 1559, and finally this young democracy, or this democracy became whole, by getting Syria out. And there's suspicions that the instability created by the Hezbollian attacks will cause some in Lebanon to invite Syria back in, and it's against the United Nations policy and it's against U.S. policy."

As Language Log points out, through "toponomic suffixation" Hezbollians can now take a proud place next to Grecians, Kosovians, and East Timorians.

I might also take this moment to remind the President that the constitution of this "young democracy" was drafted in 1926 and that at least parts of Lebanon were represented at the League of Nations, which was famously shunned by the US Congress. There have always been problems with Lebanon's "confessional democracy," but I think we could say something similar for the United States, which extended voting rights to all adult US citizens only 41 years ago.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Just Like They Said...

A few weeks ago I shared the spring plans of Youssef and Fabrice, young Camerounian emigrants, that they would wait for the cover of entertainment before trying their luck during the final rounds of the World Cup Championship. Their goal? To try to cross into Melilia, the enclave on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast "occupied" by Spain.

Sure enough, according the Tangier weekly Le Courrier du Nord, last Monday a group of around 70 sub-Saharan Africans stormed a section of Spain’s billion-dollar "border fence," a series of tilted 20-foot wire walls topped with razor wire and equipped with electronic sensors and guard towers. Border guards opened fire on the unarmed group. Two were killed.

One of those killed died en route to a Moroccan hospital. The other one actually made it to Spain--his body is undergoing an autopsy by Spanish police. The presumed cause of death being "gunshot wound," it’s very unlikely that Spanish border guards were responsible for the killings, since they don’t carry firearms. No names were released, and we may never know who the victims were or where they came from.

This was the first mass attempt on Melilia since October 2005, when six men were killed after Moroccan border guards opened fire on another group of around 100 unarmed sub-Saharan Africans trying to make it across the fence.

As a result, we have the curious situation whereby the Moroccan authorities are keeping nationals of several foreign countries from trying to leave Morocco and enter into another foreign country, and specifically a section of that foreign country’s territory that Morocco unofficially claims.

Moreover, that foreign country has already built massive military- (or prison!)-style fortifications between its frontier and Morocco’s, not exactly a friendly overture.

Finally, the Moroccan authorities appear willing to use deadly force against these foreign nationals, even though the border guards are under no immediate threat from the unarmed would-be emigrants, who are running away from them and from Moroccan territory.

All the while, the Spanish authorities (and all Europeans) are able to sit back and protest that their border guards aren’t even armed, so they can scarcely be held responsible for the killings.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Morocco, Land of the Free

I was talking to a shopkeeper in Marrakech. Since his shop is in a former Jewish quarter of the city, talk turned to the current influx of Moroccan Jews and other Europeans into the madinas of Morocco. "Why are they coming back?" I asked. Here are his answers:

1. Many of those who went to Europe and America found it hard to live there--high taxes and not many business opportunities.

2. Those who went to Israel met with discrimination, because they were Sephardic Arabic-speakers.

3. Moreover, those in Israel are under daily threat from terrorism. They could be blown up at any time.

So why do they come to Morocco? Taxes are relatively low, the business climate is favorable, and it's a free, peaceful, and secure society.

Meanwhile, I have to wonder how free, peaceful, and secure America is when I read such a story as this, in which a naval veteran arrested for wearing the wrong kind of T-shirt to a Chicago VA medical center.