It’s still hot; burning hot. Even the Moroccans are feeling the atmospheric pressure. The slightest breeze is a welcome breath of fresh air. So many of us are feeling ill and fatigued in the stifling heat. Shade is of a premium. Huge swathes of low wall are neglected for the small patch of shadow made by a tree. One half of the tram stations are abandoned to the white heat gleaming off the seating. The clanging of the tram bell heralding the mass exodus from the dark side.
I trundle through my days here in Morocco with ease. Nothing seems to get me down, save the heat. The majority of my classes are of a high level English, so require little teaching from me. More often than not, we sit as a class and talk on a wide range of subjects from homosexuality to the amount of litter in the streets.
We are told by the powers-that-be at the school not to discuss controversial subjects, but most of the experienced ex-pats find the students greedily welcome, and in some cases demand, the opportunity to express their opinions on such matters. Time after time, I hear the complaint from students that the Moroccan education system does not encourage opinion. Schools teach children the facts of subjects, but give no space for analysis or debate. Even philosophy is taught in schools this way.
Tuesdays and Thursdays I ‘teach’ Adult Conversation. The class is composed mainly of women; who are a feisty bunch all too ready and willing to express their views on the role of women in an Islamic/Moroccan society. One of the male students is a new father. Each week we get an update on his young son, and have the opportunity to discuss the role and meaning of a ‘modern father’ in Morocco.
To some in the West, these subjects and the views expressed would come as a complete surprise. Yet time after time, in all the Muslim countries I have visited and most of the Muslims I speak with around the world, topics connected with social freedoms and creative thought are the subjects that exercise minds the most. Those with more liberal, tolerant views are ridiculing those who hold on to more traditional, religious beliefs.
Yet, if you think it’s democracy that is the dominant desire and drive towards western values and freedoms, think again. Moroccans, like others in North African and Middle East countries, can see through the facade of western politics. The ability to exchange one corrupted politicians for another every four or five years doesn’t solve the problems in the west, and Moroccans know it won’t solve the problems here. What will change things are people and the increasing liberal attitudes that are way ahead of the views of the establishment.