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Morocco issues pre-emptive ban on renowned French feminist group

By Naoufel Cherkaoui for Magharebia in Rabat -- 26/02/09

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The Moroccan government said it would ban the French association "Ni Putes Ni Soumises" (Neither Whores nor Submissives) from opening offices in Morocco, if and when the association requests permission to do so.

The early ban was based on the association's approach to women issues, a government statement said on Friday (February 20th).

"The trend of that association, which is engaged in respectable work in France, does not conform with the approach adopted in Morocco for dealing with issues related to the situation of women," the Interior Ministry said. "According to Moroccan law, it will be banned."

As Hassan Daoudi, a member of the General Secretariat of Morocco’s Islamist Justice and Development Party, noted to Magharebia, the association "must respect the Moroccan particularities".

The association has not yet requested permission to work in Morocco, founders said, which made the ministry's statement a surprise.

The group's president, Sihem Habchi, characterised the ban as a consequence of "the debate started by Islamists and some old-fashioned women's associations". She noted that some have accused the association of bringing France's problems to Morocco.

"Ni Putes Ni Soumises" is a feminist group founded in Paris in 2003 by French-Algerian Fadela Amara (now the French Secretary of State for Urban Affairs) to fight violence against Muslim women in France's suburbs. The association also fights for women's rights and against social maltreatment, such as the pressure to wear hijab, drop out of school or enter into early and arranged marriages.

"The coercion of girls to marry is considered a Euro-Mediterranean issue, as well as girls' education, and they are among our priorities in Morocco," Habchi said.

The ban may have come as a reaction to what Zeineb Zulfakar, one of the founders of the association, said in late December. She said that the association intended to open a branch in Morocco by March 8th, International Women’s Day, given the persistent problems "related to women, in spite of the efforts made by Moroccan associations".

"The goal of the establishment of a branch for the association is to support the Moroccan dynamism that has made women’s situation a key issue," Habchi said. "I understand that the name of the association is hard to use in Morocco, but it reflects the tough reality that is violent in itself."

Banning Ni Putes Ni Soumises "was not a wise move", said Moroccan Association of Human Rights President Khadija Riyadi. At a time when there are branches of several international associations in Morocco," Riyadi said she cannot see why "Neither Whores nor Submissive" should not have a Morocco office. "

That decision is meaningless," Riyadi added, "because the association has yet to submit an application for the establishment of a branch in Morocco. Thus, it is part of the trial of intentions that the ministry has recently started to do. How can the ministry know which approach the association will adopt in Morocco and whether it is the same one it adopted by in France or different from it?"

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    souad 2009-8-22

    I would like to have some information on this website. Thank you for everything. May God help you.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    abdo 2009-8-1

    NPNS has no right to be in morocco our religion gave us enough instruction on how to defend our women's right,what we need is education and show what islam said about women not a western association in a muslim country.If they did a good job in France let them move to spain or germany or italy but morocco no way and we mean it.


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    momne 2009-7-24

    In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful. In reality I am against such associations in Morocco and some international organizations. I don't see any positive impact by such associations and organizations on Morocco. They just distort its image. This is known to all Moroccans. The organizations and associations pose as an angel at the beginning by in fact they are the cursed Satan. Our concern for our country and king is sincere. There is no good in people who institute a woman to lead them. There is no need to interpret differently because it is Islam which granted woman the sublimest rights and honoured her in the best way. I say oh (Muslim) women, may God preserve you on His obedience.


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    Algeria 25 2009-6-11

    How can NPNS help women in a environment where just mentioning the name "whores" is already considered indecent. I am aware that there is a lot of domestic violence in our society in the maghreb as a whole, It is cause effect issue the effect is violence the cause is ignorance "jahl" of our religion, hence unless NPNS is in the business of teaching Islam, then there is no need for it. Our society's fabric is complex and its problems run much deeper than domestic violence, it will take a lot more than some chicks in Paris to change it. My advice for NPNS, 1- change your name, 2- know your environment a Moroccan women and immigrant women from Morocco are two different things,3- know the family structure in Morocco and its taboos. KNOW THE DO's and DON'Ts in Morocco before you barge-in Salam aalikoum


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    Rachida 2009-5-10

    In my opinion, there are plenty of Moroccan organisations defending women’s rights in Morocco and they know the terrain and the true problems of Moroccan women quite well. It would be better for Ni Putes Ni Soumises to mind the real problems of French women instead of always knocking on the same people, attacking an entire community of beurrettes. This would be better and would not be racists. May stick to their role and stay home.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    d f 2009-4-5

    Freedom!? Freedom and democracy for whom, dear!?


  7. Anonymous thumb

    SIMO 2009-3-31

    Much ado about nothing! And, the subject was dealt with - as is often the case – all too quickly. Decisions that are made are often based on “Someone said...” “It seems...” “These ideas come from abroad!”, “This is our society!”, “These are our features!”. In short, this is just a bunch of pointless hot air. And, what if we were to take some time to seriously think about the question??? Let us take into consideration the status, the goals and the method of action that Ni Putes Ni Soumises. Let us study its good and bad points before taking a position. Objectively speaking, women and even all of Moroccan (and Maghreb) society have a lot to gain and truly little to lose. At the very least, our society is: in favour of violence against women, against women’s rights, in favour of the poor social treatment of women, in favour of arranged marriage for its girls, in favour of women abandoning their education, in favour of the direct and indirect obligation of women to wear the sign of submission (the hijab or tchador), and so on and so on. All I have done is summarize a small number of Ni Putes Ni Soumises’ goals. So, objectively speaking, is there anyone who can be against this organisation without being sick, fanatical or obscurantist like, for example, the retrograde bearded men who want to impose their heinous and suicidal ideas of our religion and life in general on us?


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    carole 2009-3-28

    You have not understood anything. Fortunately, these women are here to support us in, for example, cases of domestic violence. I know what I am talking about. Can you imagine this pain this can bring – being belittled and humiliated day and night, that is whenever you are not being beaten, sequestered or raped. Ni Putes Ni Soumises (NPNS) are making things progress just like the first feminists did so that we can have independence in spite of our husbands and open bank accounts, work, take birth control. For those of you who are against this organisation, I tell you that it did obtain documentation from women who were victims of forced marriages, and that is just one example among many. Bravo NPNS! You need to keep making things progress, and let us forget those who resist you. We need you! PS- I am against violence, but I think that if we can get things moving with it, then we ought to use it.


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    عرفات 2009-3-26

    All I know about this association is that it is a respectable association in France. I think that opening a branch of the association in Morocco will contribute to supporting the women cause in our country. This is because the problem faced by women as a social gender in Morocco is how to access rights even if the Moroccan constitution and laws besides recent amendments guarantee these rights.


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    Anonymous 2009-3-23

    I don’t think that French secularism is accepted here in Morocco. Democracy is still building its position in young Morocco. I think that such thing cannot be accepted by the Moroccan citizen. However, the government can accept more than that for other accounts: the International Monetary Fund, the European Union. As a Moroccan citizen, I see that the so-called “Filth and entertainment” – Justice and Development- which acts as if it represents the Moroccan Muslim, is incapable of protecting our Islam. We only trust the commander of the believers. As to the party of beards, to hell with it. What has it done in the opposition? The number of opened bars has increased; there are more prostitutes as a result of poverty, deteriorated social conditions. So the best thing for you to do, bearded men, is to do good to yourselves and stay away from us. Your backward ideas are like you. You have brought nothing new except that you are disturbing people who pray in mosques after prayer. You know nothing about Islam. Islam in Morocco is well, courtesy to the fathers and forefathers, not thanks to Benkirane and his friends whose image was uncovered today. Look, change the name of the party, maybe some good might come of that…


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    mariam 2009-3-11

    You must authorize French to set up this association which is very important and I am sure of its success.


  12. Anonymous thumb

    Zeina 2009-3-4

    I hope such an association will open in Tunis where the secular state bans Al-hijab, passport photoes of Al-Hijab, and legal, religious marriage.


  13. Anonymous thumb

    Moroccangurl 2009-3-3

    Regardless of what you think of NPNS, their ban was completely unnecessary especially coming at a time when Morocco is trying to advance freedom of speech. Who knows, maybe they could bring something positive.


  14. Anonymous thumb

    acharif moulay abdellah bouskraoui 2009-3-2

    Associations should be aware of the fact that we are a Muslim country. We have our peculiarities, our traditions and customs... Those who respect us will certainly respect our beliefs. And those who believe that they can afford anything, then it’s a no, we will not allow anyone to tell us what to do... We are an independent and sovereign state, and our openness to the Western world will never erase our Arab-Muslim origins... Morocco, under the auspices of His Majesty Mohamed VI, may God assist him, is moving towards openness, development and democracy, with full respect for our peculiarities. Signed: Moulay Abdellah BOUSKRAOUI


  15. Anonymous thumb

    champion 2009-3-1

    So, the government has time to think about a situation that has not yet occurred (since the association has made no requests), while the people face a catastrophic situation. This is absurd!


  16. Anonymous thumb

    hayat tifariti 2009-3-1

    What must Moroccans do for this association not to open its offices in Morocco? Go see who the Plage Rouge complex in Marrakech belongs to, to know who Morocco belongs to.


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    1980 2009-3-1

    Discard everything that comes from the west. There is still a belief that they came to defend us and our interests. However, the oddest things that those who fight us are Arabs who became westernised and foreign. The name of the association is in itself indecent for us as Arabs at least. One of the objectives of the association is “to protect the rights of women and fight social mistreatment as a pressure to wear Hijab”. It is us who understand well our reality. Woman (mother) is the main pillar of the Arab family. Why for example weren't the objectives of this association fighting moral decay and indecent dress (not Hijab)? These acts which have spread in the name of liberation from the chains and the exported tailored freedom. Arab Maghreb and Arabs in general have decisive and main issues more important than these and which require analysis and study. We know our reality and issues better. We should solve them ourselves and not wait for ready-made solutions transcending our reality and which don’t meet our aspirations but make things worse.


  18. Anonymous thumb

    Jimmy 2009-3-1

    NPNS ("Ni Putes Ni Soumises" - Neither Whores nor Submissives) is an instrumentalized association (like SOS Racism at the time of Mitterrand), which is hiding behind causes that are quite respectable, to fight a portion of society that does not think the way we would like it to. Attend one of their meetings and you will understand ... PS: Sorry for the typos, but I'm not used to the "QWERTY" keyboard.


  19. Anonymous thumb

    hedna 2009-3-1

    In my humble opinion, this association does not need to campaign outside of its natural environment for which it was created. It is up to it to prove its efficacy on its own territory, if it is actually working against old practices and mores, and not against religion. The problem is in us, the Muslims who, let's admit it, do not have of Islam but the name. If we knowingly or unknowingly do not know the basic laws governing the Muslim religion, the problem is in us again.


  20. Anonymous thumb

    Mustapha 2009-2-28

    Quite frankly, this is not what Morocco needs! Let's be serious, there is much more to do in other fields where it would be -for example- more efficient and fair for those who would like to serve Moroccan women. For example, the fight against the disease that impoverish them, moreover, this condition needs us all. Regarding exporting "scums" to Morocco, no thanks. Q.E.D... Culturally speaking, there are certain terms that do not suit Morocco, NPNS "Ni Putes Ni Soumises" (Neither Whores nor Submissive) is not even pronounceable.


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    Abderrazak 2009-2-28

    I do not think that Morocco is lacking talented women who could promote their own rights in respect for the country’s socio-cultural characteristics. Transposing to Morocco a model that was completely built in the context of French society would be a great failure, just like the IMF, which wants to impose its economic plans on certain countries and leads them to bankruptcy, or the United States, which want to impose their so-called “democracy” on other countries and end up causing civil wars, or the simple Moroccan family Code, which has changed nothing besides leaving a lot of girls in poverty who need a home and a husband able to guarantee a decent life. This organisation, which perhaps succeeded in its aims with French women, needs to leave Moroccan women to act in their own interests and in the interest of their country without ideological manipulation coming from the outside. In general, human have a tendency to do everything they can to preserve what they earned with their own efforts and sacrifices and quickly waste what came without effort. If these changes are worth defending, then they should come from the interior so as to warrant legitimacy. In sum, it is always easy to change the laws, but it will take generations to change a culture. This is why I say that the best tool to change society is always a good education for our children while preserving our religion and our good values.


  22. Anonymous thumb

    ALEX 2009-2-27

    This organisation is not wanted in Morocco. It cannot do anything for Moroccan women for two reasons. One the one hand, poverty pushes women to prostitution. It is thus an economic problem given the large gap between the rich and the poor. On the other hand, governmental policy is that of an education that creates unemployment and patronage networks at the level of employment. There are positions that have become hereditary. Our sex-tourism policies are second only to Thailand. All of this pushes women to the world’s oldest profession in order to save their families. Parents currently prefer to have daughters instead of sons. It is return to the “Age of Innocence”, only the opposite.


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    maghrebihi 2009-2-27

    In Morocco, this “problem” is fake!!! This is just to confuse people and divert their attention from their real problems, such as: poverty, illiteracy, health and so on. I do not see a difference when it comes to rights and privileges between my mother and father, nor between my brother and sister! Everyone is doing their best so that their family lives in complete harmony. It wasn’t until a few years ago with the arrival of these so-called “organisations” which have slogans that cross our cultural lines such as “Ni putes ni soumises” that doubt began to emerge in a few homes!!! Let us people live in peace. And, every society has its own problems – it is not a question of projecting them fro elsewhere; rather, we need to find solution within this society itself!!! It is not with the women affiliated with Ni putes ni soumises that our grandfathers conquered Europe!!! We do not want to clone our societies because humanity’s interest lies in the diversity in the utmost sense of the word. -Respectfully


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    laila 2009-2-27

    This is a scandal. I am outraged that unrepresentative French organisations such as “Ni putes ni soumises” want to export themselves to Morocco. I hate this group. I do not understand why they want to get set up in Morocco. Stop thinking that all women fit this model of either being whores or submissive. I am happy that Morocco closed its doors to them. My respects for the Moroccan government!


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    Abdel 2009-2-27

    I am proud of Morocco’s decision to ban this organisation. The problem with NPNS is not that it does not vary its aims – we are all against violence against women – but, above all else, that there it does not vary its form, ideology and model of women it wants to impose. Making all the young boys of the suburbs seem macho, violent or perverse is no bother!?! And, that is what they did during their years in France Moreover, having been manipulated by the French political parties, they did not do anything extraordinary. Hundreds of organisations of men and women already do this work in silence but also in an effective way. These women have just played with media, especially with regards to the Muslim headscarf. The women Beurs who refused the veil (only to later say they were in favour of the veil) and spit on Islam were a godsend for the politicians! Moroccans understood that they needed to get inspired by that which is positive abroad, not that which is negative or harmful.


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    ahsaina 2009-2-27

    these women are looking for fame not for helping muslim women.


  27. Anonymous thumb

    le jeune marocain 2009-2-27

    The reasons for creating the NPNS (that is: its arguments and aims) are totally understandable and respectable. On the contrary, Morocco has never had problems with its women with regards to both voting and freedom. Women Moroccans are side by side with men Moroccans in all circumstances. French language and history are unfair towards women. It is time that they fight against this, but may they leave Morocco alone. Women in Morocco have been teaching us since our childhood. The women Beurs were marginalised in France, not Morocco. In this case, all the head headaches that women Moroccans have come from exporting France’s problems and transposing them upon us. Morocco is an example throughout the world, especially in the countries of Europe.


  28. Anonymous thumb

    BEN 2009-2-27

    A respectable and committed organisation such as “Ni Putes Ni Soumises” cannot have anything to do with the realities and the feminine condition of Moroccan women living in a society with its own codes. They could help or support similar organisations that have long been working in this field and others as well, given that the problems are so abundant and diverse. This is an opportunity to pay homage to these Highnesses, who are well seasoned, devoted to this social handicap and long ago surpassed the outstanding commitment of “Ni Putes Ni Soumises”.


  29. Anonymous thumb

    observateur 2009-2-27

    NPNS are not north africans in the service in France: they have not even managed to mobilise in France, where they are supposed to serve and to stigmatise people without bringing anything about. The little Fadela, after having served as the image of diversity for the Sarkozy’s government, had her plan for the suburbs cut off without ever seeing he light of day. Morocco serves to give them an international dimension - that is all!


  30. Anonymous thumb

    hassan 2009-2-27

    France is not going to export it model of society here. It is up to us to create our own model.


  31. Anonymous thumb

    Philippe 2009-2-27

    Hello- I am a man, a Frenchman. I can assure you that this organisation has done some very great work in France. I am not militant, but I do appreciate that these women are taking their own lives into their hands. And, this is not always easy for them, even here. Above all else, I do not want to give out lessons; I simple want to show my sentiment for what these women are doing to improve their situation.


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