American Show “Prison Break” to Film in Rabat, Casablanca, Ouarzazate

Rabat – The fifth season of the “Prison Break” series is currently filming in three cities of Morocco – Casablanca, Rabat and Ouarzazate – according to a report by Huffington Post Maroc.  do not be surprised if you come face to face with the Scofield brothers in the coming weeks.The newspaper cited a filming permit approving the show’s cast and crew to work in the three cities from March 28th to June 17th, 2016“Prison Break” started in 2005. Every episode in the first season attracted almost 10 million American viewers to tune in to Fox during the hour-long show. By the show’s fourth and final season, the audience has dwindled down to 3 million weekly viewers on average. In January, Fox announced a nine-episode event continuing the character’s stories. The principal actors in the original cast confirmed their return soon after. The next nine episodes will take place five years after the end of the last season.The hero of the saga, Michael Scofield was thought dead, but is actually imprisoned in Yemen. The reboot will begin with his friends’ plans to try and free him from incarceration. Thus, the scenes shot in Morocco will probably be used to portray the Middle East.The Atlas Studies in Ouarzazate have been used for the filming of several Hollywood TV shows and movies over the past decades. Season three of the show “Game of Thrones” and the film “Gladiator” were shot at the studies, among others. read more

Fatima Nejjar and Omar Benhammad Given Two-Month Suspended Prison Sentence

Casablanca — Former MUR officials Fatima Nejjar and Omar Benhammad have been handed a two-month suspended prison sentence.Though they were initially place in detention and later granted a temporary release, the Benslimane court gave the two a suspended prison sentence and fined 500 dirhams each as of Thursday, November 24.With a suspended prison sentence, Nejjar and Benjammad will not see the inside of a jail cell, but they must not commit even the most minimal of infractions for fear of seeing actual prison time. Quick reminder: Fatima Nejjar (62) and Omar Benhammed (63), the two former vice presidents of the Movement of Unity and Reform (MUR), the PJD’s religious wing, were caught committing adultery aboard a car parked on the beach in Mohammedia on the night of August 20.Nejjar, a widow with six kids, and Benhammad, a married man and a father of seven, had reportedly been together, though they were not officially married. They had discussed the idea of marriage but had been met with opposition from other members of the PJD and their respective families. Many close to the party had evoked the idea that Nejjar and Benhammad may have been the victims of a setup aimed at creating controversy before the October 7 legislative elections. Since their temporary release, the two suspended MUR members have gotten married, though this didn’t dissuade the justice system from giving them a sentencing on Thursday. Meanwhile, if the pair was indeed sought out as part of a set up, the PJD didn’t suffer much from it, winning the October elections by a landslide. read more

Syrian Forces Reclaim Aleppo in Civil War

by Adam BrownRabat – In comments published Thursday, President Assad said that Syrian forces’ victory in Aleppo will be a “big gain”, but will not bring about the end of the civil war.Since 2010 Syria has been in the midst of a bloody civil war and Aleppo has been deeply divided since 2012, split into sections controlled by rebels and sections controlled by the Syrian government. This week, Assad’s troops have been pushing further into the rebel-held part of eastern Aleppo. The conflict has been defined by extensive civilian casualties and aid organizations have been working to provide support to potential evacuees. “More than 30,000 of the estimated 275,000 residents of the besieged eastern part have fled to western Aleppo” (New York Times).  Organizations such as the International Committee for the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have coordinated to complete an evacuation and relocation that ended Wednesday night.Rebels called for “a five-day humanitarian pause”, but the request has been ignored. Assad has stated that he will no longer consider truce offers, stating that they come when the rebels are in a “difficult spot”. He went on to say that he does not believe that liberating Aleppo, “will be the end of the war”Other governments are working to coordinate a cease fire in order to expedite the process of removing civilians and rebel forces from the city. “Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov…said military experts and diplomats would meet Saturday in Geneva to work out details of the rebels’s exit from Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods”.Reports indicate that the bombing and shelling operations continue in the face of evacuation attempts. read more

Muslim Women Line Westminster Bridge in Show of Solidarity

Toronto – Four days after Khalid Masood drove his rented SUV through crowds of pedestrians making their way across Westminster Bridge, ultimately killing 4 and injuring dozens more, a group of determined Muslim women joined participants on the bridge in a show of solidarity.It was a bright Sunday afternoon when 34-year-old Ayesha Malik decided to take her place on Westminster Bridge in support of the victims of last week’s terror attack. “As a visible Muslim, I think it was important to show solidarity with the principles we all hold dear, the principles of plurality, diversity and so on.”According to a report on BBC News, the event was organized by the Women’s March on London.Participants lined Westminster Bridge, linking arms to form a human chain. As big Ben struck 4 p.m., five minutes of silence were observed to show respect for the victims and their families. 40-year-old professional, Fariha Khan, spoke to Metro on Sunday about the impact of standing in the place where such unnecessary tragedy took place. “The feeling of what happened here on Wednesday was really strong. We thought of the ordinary people who were here and were mown down, standing here like this, it was very overwhelming.”Most of the Muslim women who attended opted to wear blue, the colour of peace. It made for a visibly moving tribute to the lives lost and forever changed by the violence of one individual.According to the same source, Sarah Waseem, a 57-year-old Muslim woman from Surrey, attended the event to support the viewpoint that Islam does not condone or encourage violence in any form. “When an attack happens in London, it is an attack on me. It is an attack on all of us. Islam totally condemns violence of any sort. This is abhorrent to us.”Many of the Muslim women who showed up, some accompanied by their daughters, decided to participate following a social media backlash which occurred against an hijab-wearing woman whose photo was posted online in the midst of the attack. The woman was criticized for appearing to walk calmly past a group of people tending to an injured pedestrian.The unidentified woman took to the media herself on Friday to explain the context of the photo and what her reality had been in that moment. In her statement she said, “Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who drew conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.”The young woman expressed sympathy for the victims and their families, explaining that the image didn’t show the complete picture of her experience that terrible day. For example, she said, it didn’t show that she had stopped to offer help and try to determine what had happened. “My thoughts go out to all the victims and their families.”People from all walks of life, all backgrounds and every description, took part in Sunday’s Westminster Bridge memorial march. Most described it as a small, proactive gesture to show support in the face of hate and intolerance. As Londoner Mary Bennett put it, “This is my city. It’s a very small gesture but life is made up of small gestures.” read more

Morocco Potential Host of 2018 World Islamic Economic Forum

Rabat – Morocco’s leading economic activity in Africa has made it a potential host for future editions of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), says forum chairman Tun Musa Hitam.Upon the closure of the 13th annual WIEF, Musa Hatim said that Morocco is a suitable destination to host upcoming forums. “Morocco is a leader in economic development in the region [Africa]” explained the chairman of the business-centered forum.The 13th annual of the forum saw a presence of a Moroccan delegation composed of Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani, Minister of Governance Lahcen Daoudi, and the Moroccan ambassador for Malaysia, Mohamed Reda Ben Khaldoun, as well as journalists and other participants. Hatim said that his discussions with El Othmani have shown that Morocco is interested in WIEF’s “business strategy.”A source from the organizing committee told Morocco World News that the fact that El Othmani was invited to speak at the forum is an indicator that Morocco will host the event next year.Musa Hitam previously indicated in a press conference in Rabat that “Morocco is undoubtedly developing. The country’s interest in diversifying its business models proves that it is [determined] on pushing boundaries further, with Islamic Banking becoming a growing trend in Morocco.”“The WIEF could help the country push its boundaries even further, particularly since it brings together experts and stakeholders in the domain, open to share knowledge and build networks,” he continued.The World Islamic Economic Forum was held November 21 to 23 in Kuching, Malaysia, bringing together 17,000 forum members, including heads of state and business leaders from both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, to discuss the impacts and challenges of “disruptive change.” read more

UAE’s Etihad Airways Delivers 1.2 Million Travelers Between Morocco, Abu Dhabi

Rabat – Etihad Airways of the United Arab Emirates has delivered 1.2 million passengers between Morocco and the UAE since the launch of direct flights the two countries in 2006.Etihad’s Vice President for Commercial Affairs, Mohammed Abdullah Al-Bloki, underscores the strong ties between Morocco and UAE, including language, common values, and cooperation in the fields of tourism and trade.In a statement to the UAE-based newspaper, Al-Ittihad, Al-Bloki expressed his gratitude to “the various governmental bodies in the Kingdom of Morocco for their great efforts to increase the level of close cooperation.” He further said that “We are proud of the great contributions made by the Moroccan talents and the various expertise in developing the work system.”Morocco’s Minister of Tourism, Handicrafts, and Air Transport, Mohammed Sajid, also commended Morocco-UAE relations in different areas, added Al-Ittihad.Sajid said that the Emirati carrier has accomplished many impressive successes globally, which place it among the best international airlines.The company’s increase in flights to Morocco corresponds with a growing number of tourists. Said added that this step will reinforce business ties between Morocco and the Emirati airway, opening a door for more business projects to serve the interests of both countries and enhance trade exchange.The airline launched its first Abu Dhabi-Casablanca flight on June 2, 2006, according to Al-Ittihad.“The airline provided [originally] four weekly flights between the two cities via the Airbus A330-200 and then increased to five flights per week.”In March 2013, Etihad Airways increased its flights to Casablanca and launched a new daily round-trip flight between Abu Dhabi and Casablanca. In 2016, the airline announced that it would expand its presence in Morocco by launching two new weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Rabat to provide a direct link between the two capitals via an A340-500 airplane.Earlier this month, Etihad Airways also introduced its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to serve its daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Casablanca. read more

Gaza Massacre: Death Toll of Protesters Rises to 41

Rabat- While Israelis in Jerusalem celebrate the new US embassy’s inauguration, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza has doubled, as protests against the US embassy move continue.The Gaza protests began on Friday, May 11, in opposition to US President Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The protests were met with Israeli gunfire from throughout the weekend into Monday, May 14.On Saturday, May 12, over 150 protesters were wounded and four were killed, including a 15-year-old boy, according to the Independent. So far, death toll of Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza Strip border has risen to 41–including several teenagers–while at least 1,900 protesters have been injured, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.In line with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, the US embassy officially relocates to Jerusalem today. In the days leading up to the inauguration, protests erupted along Gaza border, including approximately 35,000 Gazans.According to the New York Times, the Israeli military has testified that some of the crowds of protesters planted explosives, adding that emergency men also hurried to extinguish a spreading wildfire. No Israeli injuries or deaths have been reported thus far.The current protests coincide with the anniversary of the Nakba (“Catastrophe”), which marks the mass expulsions of Palestinians in conjunction with the creation of the state of Israel. Approximately 700,000 Palestinians died during the event, nearly 70 years ago, in 1948.On Sunday in Rabat, protests emerged in support of the Palestinian people and denunciation of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israeli capitalMeanwhile, the inauguration of US embassy’s opening in Jerusalem is moving forward as planned.Around 32 of 86 envoys participated in the inauguration attended by US president Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her Jewish husband Jared Kushner.According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a delegation arrived earlier today, with representatives from Albania, Angola, Austria, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Kenya, Macedonia, Burma, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Serbia, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, Paraguay, Tanzania, and Zambia.At @netanyahu’s residence tonight: @IvankaTrump, @jaredkushner, @stevenmnuchin1, John Sullivan, @JasonDovEsq, @USAmbIsrael, @AmbDermer (Pic: Haim Zach) pic.twitter.com/7me7NI1rzc— Noa Landau (@noa_landau) May 13, 2018 Wine accident. Behind the scenes @ Israel’s celebrations of U.S. embassy move. Jerusalem, 2018 pic.twitter.com/1TUbf62YjE— Noa Landau (@noa_landau) May 13, 2018 read more

Rooted Everyday to Organize Biodiversity-Themed Creative Writing Contest

Rabat – Rooted Everyday, an environmental campaign focused on the Mediterranean, is launching an environment-themed writing competition on April 2. The short story competition is open for writers over 18 from the Mediterranean ecoregion: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Greece, and Lebanon. Candidates should submit a 3000-word story encouraging “awareness, understanding and the protection of Mediterranean culture and biodiversity.” The deadline for submitting stories will be on June 24, and the winners will be announced on October 1, 2019. Stories can be either in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, or Greek.There will also be a competition for children and young adults aged between 7 and 18. Candidates for that category should be from schools in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains, Greek Island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea, Montados in Portugal, and Shouf mountains in Lebanon. The campaign has selected experienced readers and judges from each country to look for stories that address the conservation issues within the Rooted Everyday campaign. The prize includes a certificate, a selection of books, promotional support for the winners to share their stories on the campaign’s platforms and have them featured in an e-book.According to the organizers, the contest’s main objective, is to show the value of biodiversity and traditional practices in the Mediterranean.The prize is set to celebrate the rich biodiversity in the aforementioned ecoregions, “and to tell the stories of the people whose livelihoods depend on traditional and sustainable practices.”The campaign mentioned Morocco’s High Atlas Mountain landscapes which are home to a rich cultural heritage, including endangered traditions and economically important plant species looked after by indigenous Moroccan Amazigh people.Lily Mordechai, MeDINA’s Scientific Secretary, said:  “We chose to make creative writing part of the campaign because storytelling is a powerful tool that is authentic … By engaging writers and creative individuals we hope we will not only raise awareness but also hear stories of how people experience and perceive biodiversity and heritage in the Mediterranean.” read more

McConnell proposes raising minimum age for buying tobacco

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans to introduce legislation to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 nationally.The Senate leader said Thursday his bill will cover all tobacco products, including vaping devices.The Kentucky Republican represents a state that for generations was a leading tobacco producer in the U.S. Tobacco production has dropped dramatically in Kentucky in the past decade.McConnell says his bill will continue to hold retailers responsible for verifying the age of anyone buying tobacco products. He says about a dozen states have already enacted laws raising the minimum legal age to 21.McConnell made the announcement in Louisville, at the office of an organization that promotes health initiatives in Kentucky. He intends to introduce the bill next month.Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press read more

The Latest: EU regrets US decision on Iran sanctions

FRANKFURT — The Latest on the U.S. move to end Iran sanction exemptions (all times local):3:10 p.m.The European Union is criticizing the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil and warns that the move could damage an international effort to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic expressed “regret” Tuesday over the U.S. decision and that it “risks further undermining” the Iran nuclear deal.U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of that pact last year, saying it does nothing to stop Tehran developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East.Since then, the EU has put measures in place to side-step U.S. sanctions on Iran, including a way to keep financial supply lines to Tehran open and protect European businesses operating there.___3:05 p.m.Global oil prices are climbing in the wake of the U.S. move to impose sanctions on countries that buy Iranian oil.And analysts said Tuesday that prices could keep heading higher.The U.S. announced the sanctions last year to push Iranian leaders to renegotiate an agreement aimed at keeping them from developing nuclear weapons. But some countries got temporary waivers that allowed them to import Iranian oil. The U.S. now says those waivers expire May 2.Among those affected are China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the U.S. is counting on ally Saudi Arabia to ensure sufficient supply.New York Mercantile Exchange rose 10 cents to $65.65 per barrel while international Brent crude rose 14 cents to $74.18 per barrel.The Associated Press read more