north african – Liby Amazigh Wed, 16 Mar 2022 09:40:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 north african – Liby Amazigh 32 32 Escalating Conflict in Kabylie (Part 1 of 2) Wed, 16 Mar 2022 09:40:38 +0000

**This is the first of a two-part series covering the Kabyle-Algerian conflict. The second part will deal with specific allegations of genocide by the Kabyle government in exile against the Algerian state and the petitions it has filed with two tribunals.


While wildfires occur almost every year in Algeria in the northeast region of Tizi Ouzou in the Kabylie region, last August they ravaged the once verdant region, destroying hundreds of thousands of hectares, incinerating thousands of homes and killing at least 90 people. . The disaster has provoked cross accusations and allegations from the recently installed Algerian government – which has little popular support – and the exiled government of Kabylia – which represents the Amazigh (Berber) population known as Kabyles.

The current situation – with little or no media coverage – is the culmination of events dating back decades, to Algeria’s independence from France in the 1960s and the emergence of the Kabyle independence movement.

Independence of Kabylie and Hirak movements

President Abdelmajid Tebboune is the successor to the corrupt 20-year reign of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who died on September 17, 2021 at the age of 84. Bouteflika had been in poor health since 2013 and his term ended in disgrace. in 2019. His long-awaited retirement was precipitated by massive popular protests by the pro-democracy Hirak movement that year.

Hailing from the Kabylie region, the Hirak sought to overhaul the entire system of Algerian government, in place since the North African country’s independence from France in 1962. Although often compared in the Arab Spring that started with Tunisia in 2011, the Algerian Hirak “spring” did not turn into summer and Tebboune took office on December 19, 2019. He won with 58% of the vote in an election with less than 40% voter turnout.

Almost three months later, in March 2020, Tebboune banned all “marches and gatherings, whatever their motives”, ostensibly to protect the population from the Covid-19 pandemic. But many saw it as a pretext that was used to restrict all freedom of expression, assembly and opposition to the regime.

In March 2020, Tebboune banned all “marches and gatherings, whatever their motives”.

Nevertheless, protests by the Hirak movement returned to the streets in February 2021, and have continued throughout the year despite hundreds of arrests, including a 14-year-old girl who was arrested in December and then sent back to judgment for “attending an unarmed meeting”. gathering.'”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released its 2021 World Report documenting a litany of human rights violations in 2020 by the Algerian state against journalists, doctors and women.

The Kabyle independence movement (not mentioned in the HRW report) has championed the independence aspirations of the Kabyle people since the 1980s. The Kabyles constitute the largest homogeneous cultural-linguistic-ethnic Amazigh community in Algeria. They are estimated to constitute around 40% of the Algerian population, although the exact figures are disputed. Their homeland, Kabylie, is the mountainous region of northern Algeria, just 100 kilometers east of the country’s capital, Algiers, which stretches along the Mediterranean coast.

The Kabyles have perhaps been the indigenous Amazigh people of North Africa (from Morocco to Egypt) who have most spoken out in opposition to the “Arabization” of their homeland and culture. While other countries like Morocco have taken steps to recognize the rights and acknowledge the cultural renaissance of their indigenous Amazigh population, Algerian regimes have seen this as a challenge to their legitimacy. It was not until 2002 that the Kabyle language (dialect of Tamazight) was made a “national language” by the Algerian Constitution. However, it only became an “official” language, alongside Arabic, in 2016.

Algerian government cracks down with arrests and disappearances

In May 2021, the Algerian government declared The Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK) a terrorist organization and issued an international arrest warrant against the President of the Kabyle Provisional Government in exile, Ferhat Mehenni, who resides in Paris.

The Algerian government accused the Kabyle independence movement of deliberately starting the fires.

A few months later, in August 2021, while offering no evidence to support this claim, the Algerian government accused the Kabyle independence movement of deliberately starting the fires. He then launched a new wave of arrests and detentions, including 27 suspected MAK members after an attack in two northern towns.

Algerian police kidnapped, disappeared and detained activist Kamira Naït Sid, co-president of the Amazigh World Congress, an international NGO that defends the rights of the Amazigh people. Her family learned a few days later that she had been arrested on or around August 28.

On September 12, police officers from Tizi Ouzou arrested Mohamed Mouloudj, a reporter for the local independent newspaper Freedom, and raided his home, according to a statement from his employer and dispatches. Two days later, an Algiers court charged him with spreading false news, undermining national unity and belonging to a terrorist group. Since then, he has been detained, pending an investigation.

[Algerian Hirak Makes Comeback Despite Government Maneuvers]

The MAK against the “propaganda machine” of Algiers

In response to the Algerian government’s allegations, Mehenni called two press conferences, on August 31 and September 24, 2021 in Paris. At first, he claimed that the Algerian government was attempting genocide by burning large swaths of its people’s homeland, Kabylia. He also condemned the Algerian government for setting the fires in an attempt to stifle the independence movement.

He recited a long litany of accusations, including:

“I accuse Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of threatening my life.

I accuse the Algerian regime of torture and crimes against humanity.

I accuse the government and the army of burning Kabylia and refusing to put out the fire and block international aid.

“I accuse the Algerian regime of torture and crimes against humanity.”

He accused “Algeria of lying about all these things”, and the government’s strategy to “demonize the Kabyle people” and “influence international public opinion to think that the MAK was behind the fires”.

Mehenni also condemned the brutal lynching and burning of the body of Djamel Ben Ismail, 37, a young activist who had traveled to the Kabylia region to help put out the fires. The savage murder happened in the presence of the police who did almost nothing to stop the assault. Mehenni said the assassination was filmed on cellphones and shared on social media and was so gruesome that it “can never be invisible”.

“I feel moved in my flesh and in my soul by the Algerian propaganda machine,” he concluded. Regarding his arrest warrant, Mehenni said, “I hope France will refuse to extradite an innocent person.”

Arrest of Kamira Naït Sid, co-president of the World Amazigh Congress

Asked by Inside Arabia during the press conference on what had happened to Kamira Naït Sid and on the veracity of the reports that she had been tortured, Mehenni declared that she had been kidnapped “without witnesses and without any legal procedure”. He said it’s been ‘almost a week, and we still don’t have an account of the charges against the woman who is the president of an NGO… At the moment there is complete opacity about her whereabouts. and on the PDA charges”. He added that “the lawyers will have to meet her to find out if she was tortured”.

Human rights organization Front Line Defenders (FLD) later confirmed that Naït Sid was abducted by Algerian security forces from her home in Draa-Ben-Khedda, near Tizi Ouzou. She had been reported missing by her family for eight days before security services finally confirmed she was in custody in Algiers.

Naït Sid had been abducted by Algerian security forces from her home in Draa-Ben-Khedda.

Naït Sid was brought before an investigating judge at the Sidi M’hamed court in Algiers on September 1 on eight counts, including “undermining national unity and state security” and “belonging to a terrorist organization”. She faces ten years to life in prison and/or the death penalty.

Her sister, women’s rights defender Zina Naït Sid, was also arrested by security forces without a warrant on August 29, 2021 but was released the next day without being charged.

FLD published on its website that Naït Sid is “targeted for her legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights”.

The Association of Mountain Populations of the World (APMM) based in Paris [Association of World Mountain Populations] released a statement on November 27, saying the terrorism charge against Naït Sid is “totally far-fetched and not based on any credible factual basis.” He claimed she was being arbitrarily detained “in violation of international standards” and strongly denounced her “wrongful incarceration”.

The accusation of terrorism against Naït Sid is “completely far-fetched and not based on any credible factual element”.

Lounès Belkacem, the secretary general of the CMA, declared Inside Arabia that in terrorism cases, Algerian law provides for “a four-month pre-trial detention, renewable five times, but it is up to the judge to decide whether or not to extend the pre-trial detention”. He added that for the purposes of the UN and the African Commission on Human Rights, Nait Sid’s status is that of “prisoner in arbitrary detention”.

Inside Arabia reached one of her lawyers, Maître Allik, who confirmed that she had been in pre-trial detention for more than four months, without having been heard by the investigating judge until now. The main charge against her, he said, is “belonging to a terrorist organization”, although she “does not share the ideas of the MAK”.

He added that Nait Sid’s imprisonment is a violation of human rights because of “political conditions in Algeria”, in complete disregard of his affiliation with a non-governmental organization.

Allik, who is in Algiers, did not confirm reports of torture. However, according to Aksel Meziane, spokesperson for the government in exile, “torture has become a common practice in Algerian police stations, barracks and prisons”.

The MAK seized the International Criminal Court

During MAK’s second press conference held on September 24, 2021, the group announced that it had filed a human rights complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against the Algerian government, alleging the ” genocide” of the Kabyle people.

Tunisia: Dhahar destination wins the Green Destinations Story Awards 2022, “Culture & Communities” category Mon, 14 Mar 2022 07:44:44 +0000

Tunis/Tunisia — Destination Dhahar has won the Green Destinations Story Awards 2022, in the Culture & Communities category.

Thus, Tunisia becomes the first Arab and North African country to win this distinction in the field of sustainable tourism.

“Destination Dahar: Revitalization of Authentic Rural Region through Sustainable Tourism Model and Enhancement of Local Amazigh Culture”, was chosen as the best story among 100 stories in the world.

Tunisia participated for the first time in this global competition, organized annually by the World Sustainable Tourism Council and the Green Destinations Organization at ITB Berlin 2022, to showcase and celebrate the most inspiring stories of resilient tourism practices of the Top 100 Competition.

Thanks to this distinction, Destination Dhahar, which is a mountain range extending from Matmata to Douirat in Gabes, Medenine and Tataouine, will contribute free of charge for an entire year to promoting the region to the most important international organizations and agencies.

The executive director of the Federation of Authentic Tourism Destination Dhahar Mohamed Hedi Kallali indicated that the region has more than 29 geological sites, traces of dinosaurs and a particular architecture, in addition to the know-how of its inhabitants in the sector of tourism. handicrafts (weaving of Margoum, etc.).

“Nightmare” of underage marriage for Moroccan girls Mon, 07 Mar 2022 06:49:15 +0000

Nadia was just 16 when she was married off to an abusive husband old enough to be her father – an ordeal that thousands of Moroccan girls face each year due to a legal loophole.

“I’ve been through hell. But the nightmare is behind me now,” she said.

Nadia, from a remote region in the Anti-Atlas Mountains of the North African kingdom, has managed to get a divorce after a year of marriage.

Now 20 years old and living with her parents in her village of Tamarwoute, she is learning to read and write.

“My dream is to be independent, and I encourage other girls in the village to do the same,” she says shyly, her face half covered with a scarf.

Like the other women with similar stories cited in this article, her name has been changed to protect her identity.

Morocco’s 2004 family code sets the legal age of marriage at 18, but it includes a clause allowing judges to grant families special dispensation to marry off children under that age.

Rights groups have long called for the loophole to be closed.

But according to official figures, judges approved some 13,000 waivers in 2020 alone, more than half of all applications.

This figure does not include minors married in customary marriages, not recognized by law but sealed by a simple reading of a verse from the Koran alongside two witnesses.

Najat Ikhich of rights group YTTO says “this tragedy is widespread in remote, landlocked and marginalized areas”.

For 10 years, the association she leads has made an annual convoy through Morocco’s remote mountain communities, stopping to raise awareness of the dangers of early marriage, organize debates and distribute aid.

Precarious livelihoods and longstanding traditions make the group’s mission particularly sensitive.

“It’s delicate work because it’s a taboo subject, so it’s vital that we gain the trust of the people we meet and above all, that we listen to them,” Ikhich said.

Battle for independence

In the nearby village of Tamadghouste, among the hills dotted with the region’s famous argan trees, hardly a soul moved.

A few young women were gathered to bake bread in the communal oven.

Ikhich approached and exchanged a few words with them in Amazigh, the Berber language of Morocco.

The wary looks of women quickly gave way to a flood of complaints about the standard of living in a village that has no school or pharmacy.

Amina, 23, said she was trying to ‘take control’ of her life, after being taken out of school aged six and married off at 17.

“I always wanted to study but no one helped me. My three sisters had it even worse: they got married very young, around the age of 14,” she said.

In the Souss Massa region, more than 44% of women are illiterate, according to the latest official figures from 2014.

Educating women and making them more economically independent are key to tackling child marriage, said Karima Errejraji, YTTO’s coordinator for southern Morocco.

She had never set foot in a school as a child and was married at the age of 14 to a 56-year-old man, four times her age.

“I got out of it by getting involved in associations,” she says. “I decided to dedicate my life to helping the girls of this region.”

At the communal oven in Tamadghouste, women discuss making carpets or selling traditional bread to nearby hotels as ways to earn a living and gain self-reliance.

They agreed on one thing: all girls have the right to an education.

Izza, a bright-eyed 23-year-old who married six years ago, said she was fighting for her daughter to have an education.

“She must build herself, become independent and avoid finding herself in my situation,” she says.

© Agence France-Presse

Dina Chkarka takes the message of Moroccan cuisine to the masses: here’s cooking with you, kid Thu, 03 Mar 2022 06:05:54 +0000

Dina Chkarka with a tray of mint tea (Courtesy of Dina Chkarka)

A booming social media personality, Dina Chkarka is passionate about bringing Moroccan cuisine into the 21st century. Chkarka first learned how to make intricate tagines (steamed meat and vegetables in a clay pot) and bastilles (meat pies) by watching her mother cook for their family of five. Once in middle school, she started cooking meals for herself and her family a few days a week.

Born in Austin to immigrant parents, Chkarka visited her extended family in Morocco every other summer throughout her childhood and was raised bilingual. While she was very connected to her family and culture, she didn’t have much of a local circle that shared her enthusiasm for Moroccan cuisine. She felt somewhat isolated until she discovered Twitter as a teenager. Under the name Dina’s Kouzina, she shared her modern twists on traditional recipes and quickly found a community. On TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, she gained a small but loyal following of people across the country and around the world who craved English-language content centered around Moroccan cuisine.

“My dream is to one day have a place of my own where I can share the best of my culture, pass on what I learned from my mother, and foster a community that comes together around the food I love.” – Dina Chkarka

Chkarka realized that few of his friends had the same opportunities to learn to cook at home and didn’t know where to start in the kitchen. Even fewer were interested in the time-consuming processes used in creating traditional dishes. She wanted to keep flavors alive by making traditional dishes more accessible to her millennial and Gen Z peers. This led the 25-year-old recent college graduate to share recipes and food content online on social media, including many use time-saving appliances like air fryers and the Instant Pot.

A range of pastries and desserts (Courtesy of Dina Chkarka)

“I make the dishes more accessible to English speakers who want to do Moroccan food but just can’t find authentic recipes in English,” says Chkarka. “I do easy to follow video tutorials with tips versus just reading a recipe online or in a cookbook. I don’t necessarily make any changes to the recipes; I just use what my mom and my grandmother taught me. For example, like many ethnic cooking styles, we don’t cook with measurements. Figuring out what the perfect measurements really are is one way I make cooking more accessible to people. .

Some of the most popular Chkarka recipes include couscous topped with vegetables and lamb, a savory vegetable and chickpea soup called harira which is commonly served during Ramadan, and mint tea. One of his most-viewed TikToks involves a flatbread called msemmen, which can be savory and stuffed with meat or topped with honey.

Although she specializes in creating content with nods to her parents’ country of origin, she cooks all types of food, especially desserts. Chkarka started taking specialty baked goods orders in 2020 for family, friends and customers. (She takes orders on her site: She makes beautiful cakes and pastries of all types, as well as specialty desserts from the Middle East and North Africa during Ramadan and Eid. Her holiday specialties are maamoul (semolina cookies filled with dates) and chebakia (fried sesame cookies soaked in honey and topped with sesame seeds).

Morocco has a complicated history, including French colonization, resulting in a culture and cuisine that is a mix of indigenous African, Middle Eastern and European influences. One of Chkarka’s favorite street food in Marrakech is snail soup. She grew up thinking that escargot was a typical Moroccan dish and only later learned about French colonization and its effects on food, language and much more.

Courtesy of Dina Chkarka

Seeing people adopt his cuisine is particularly pleasing to Chkarka. Like many children of immigrants, it took time for her to understand exactly where she stood and what her identity meant to her. With her North African lineage, she was told she was considered white, but that didn’t match what she saw in the mirror or her indigenous Amazigh heritage.

When I asked her about her favorite place for Moroccan food in Austin, her first response was “Home”. She lamented authentic downtown restaurant Darna, which didn’t survive the pandemic, leaving Austin with few options. The one place she still likes to go, however, is Moroccan-owned Vivel Crepes and Coffee in Lakeway.

Among Vivel’s traditional cafe offerings are a few quintessentially Moroccan dishes, as well as many French influences found throughout Francophone Africa. We went together on a Saturday morning to sample some of Chkarka’s favorite dishes: shakshuka tagine, sunrise tagine, mint tea, baklava, and a unique fusion baklava cheesecake pancake. The shakshuka tagine contains merguez beef sausage, roasted peppers and tomato sauce, three sunny eggs, feta cheese and is served in a cast iron skillet with warm pita bread to mop up the savory sauce. Chkarka explains why the flavors are perfect: “They use the right spices and the right amount, which makes them authentic enough for cafe-style cooking. I’ve tried many so-called Moroccan places in the US and they rarely get the flavours.” so the fact that I order tajine at Vivel says a lot!”

The sunrise tagine, also served in a hot cast-iron skillet, contains Moroccan meatballs, three fried eggs, garlic tomato sauce and ricotta cheese. The dollop of ricotta added a bit of richness that Chkarka said she hadn’t done before, but enjoyed it enough to consider adding it the next time she made the dish herself. Otherwise, Chkarka described the meatballs as tasting close to what she would make at home because they use the right mix of spices.

Both tagines were warm and delicious, but what sticks out in my mind is the baklava cheesecake crepe with a pistachio and rose cheesecake filling with crumbled flaky baklava on top. above. It is a unique combination of textures and flavors fusing two notable French and Middle Eastern/North African specialties.

One trip wasn’t enough to explore the Moroccan offerings on Vivel’s menu, including unique combinations like gyro pancakes, hummus and falafel pancakes, and a Marrakech Express tagine with slow-cooked spiced lamb. For Chkarka, Vivel Crepes is one of the few places in the Austin area where she can find the comfort of flavors she would have at home.

“My dream is to one day have a place of my own where I can share the best of my culture, pass on what I learned from my mother, and foster a community that comes together around the food I love,” she says. And, like many influencers of her generation, the path to realizing that specific dream is paved one TikTok at a time.

Will Smith’s daughter under fire for portraying Amazighs as ‘thieves’ in her book Wed, 23 Feb 2022 14:30:56 +0000 Amazighs criticized Willow Smith’s novel for portraying the community in the same colonialist tone that savagely stigmatized them for decades.

Willow Smith accused of spreading “hate” against Amazighs in her latest novel. [Getty]

The daughter of Hollywood actor Will Smith is being criticized for portraying Amazighs, the indigenous people of North Africa, as ‘dangerous thieves’ in her upcoming novel Black Shield Maiden.

Willow Smith, a 21-year-old singer, songwriter and activist, is set to launch a fantasy novel on October 4 about two women navigating their destinies in a strange world of “savage shield maidens, tyrannical rulers and mysterious gods”. .

The book’s publisher, Penguin UK, released an exclusive excerpt from Smith’s story earlier this month, which includes a paragraph titled “Amazigh”.

“The Amazigh are dangerous when they are at their best. They have little regard for those who do not worship the Muslim god – and even their own tribes are always at war with each other. … The desert is lawless, and those who do not revere not traveling under the protection of Ghāna may fall prey to Amazigh thieves and slavers,” the excerpt reads.

Smith’s story, which apparently does not discriminate between Muslims and Amazighs, sparked outrage on social media, with users decrying such “offensive and horrific” statements about the Amazigh community.

“How could a privileged person like Willow Smith not find someone to educate her, or at least inform her, about the Amazigh community and Muslims before posting such nonsense?” tweeted an account that would belong to a North African woman.

Thousands of years before the rise of Islam and Christianity, the Amazigh community ruled over territories that stretched from the Canary Islands off the West African coast to western Egypt. They believed in animism – the belief that all living things, including plants and animals, have a soul and a spirit.

Islam spread to Amazigh societies following Arab invasions and power shifts through Arab and Amazigh dynasties. While some Amazighs have embraced Christianity and Judaism, others have chosen to retain their ancient faith.

Pakistan-based Muslim book blogger Sudra, who shed light on the controversy surrounding Smith’s book in a wire on Twitter, said The new Arabic that Penguin UK had contacted Muslim book bloggers to promote the soon-to-be-released novel.

“I am not Amazigh, so I cannot speak on behalf of the community. But many book blogger friends contacted me after they received the Penguin email about the book. This is how we became aware of this concerning content,” Sudra said. The new Arabic.

Penguin promoted the book as “an epic series of medieval fantasy that will make visible the stories and mythologies of medieval African peoples and women”, which have long been erased by mainstream Western narratives.

On the contrary, the Amazigh community argues that Smith’s fantasy novel is written in the same colonialist tone that savagely stigmatized them for decades.

In Western history books, Amazighs were once called “Berbers” (barbarians), a pejorative term that was first adopted by the ancient Greeks in reference to indigenous communities, i.e. non-Greek gibberish speakers. Centuries later, French colonization used the same term to belittle and vilify local communities like other uncivilized ones.

“Why does Willow Smith hate my people? It’s bizarre and unacceptable, and I hate that this bigoted fictional character is the first introduction to Amazigh culture for American audiences,” said Amber, a Moroccan Amazigh who lives in the United States. The new Arabic.

In the wake of growing backlash, book co-author Jess Hendel noted on Instagram that the novel “directly tackles prejudices about Amazigh and other Islamic peoples”, adding that “they have done a ton of research on the early Islamic caliphates and their many complexities and overlooked contributions”.

Despite Hendel’s defense of his research efforts, the published excerpt has already offended members of the Amazigh community, which includes more than 25 million people scattered between Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia.

Willow Smith and Penguin UK have yet to respond to the ongoing controversy.

Amazigh tattoos are fading, is it too late to revive them? Wed, 09 Feb 2022 11:42:17 +0000 In ancient Amazigh culture, tattoos are one of the many ways people celebrate their rich North African tribal history.

When crossing traditionally Amazigh areas in North Africa, you may encounter road signs written in the Amazigh language. Amazigh symbols are easily identifiable, however, to the untrained eye they may just look like simple line drawings with randomly placed dots and dashes. The best way to tell if you’ve reached an Amazigh utopia is to find a group of older women adorned with geometric face tattoos.

Why just old people, you ask? Like many indigenous cultures around the world, the Amazigh culture is fading into the background of the rapidly developing countries of North Africa – and its supposedly permanent tattoos are fading with it.

“Tattoos in Amazigh cultures have been incredibly important. For women, they had spiritual and healing abilities, often related to fertility. It is also said that many women adorned themselves with facial tattoos when the French colonized North Africa, making them ‘unattractive’ to the lustful eyes of French soldiers”

Tattoos in Amazigh cultures have been incredibly important. For women, they had spiritual and healing abilities, often related to fertility. Many women are also said to have adorned themselves with facial tattoos when the French colonized North Africa, making them “unattractive” to the lustful eyes of French soldiers.

Ironically, some women appreciated tattoos simply because of their beauty. Tattoos on men were generally more functional and “served for healing purposes”, although men’s skin was usually left undecorated.

This isn’t just disappointing news for tattoo lovers. It symbolizes the closing of doors to a rich but poorly documented world, a world where low literacy rates were complemented by art that told stories passed down from generation to generation.

An Amazigh girl with her hands painted with henna in the Ourika Valley [Getty Images]

Several factors contribute to the decrease in the number of Amazigh facial tattoos. The most important is undoubtedly the popularization of Islam in the Amazigh communities. Indigenous Amazigh languages ​​began to spread in North Africa around 2000 BCE. It was more than 2,500 years later that Islam was introduced and spread to all regions.

But the modern Islamization of countries like Morocco only happened much later. In 1979, after the Iranian revolution, Middle Easterners influenced by the conservative Muslim Salafist branch began to roam Morocco, teaching and converting communities to the orthodox and traditionalist Islamic sect.

Tattoos were considered haram and prohibited, and women were strongly encouraged to wear the hijab. These new religious regulations transformed what Islam looked like to Amazighs in Morocco. Before, the two cultures could live and prosper simultaneously. Now the Amazighs had to choose a side.

Like Morocco, Algeria lives with its latest generation of tattooed Amazigh women. The rise of Islamic rhetoric is also held responsible for the disappearance of facial tattoos in Amazigh-Algeria. As more and more Algerians began to read and understand Arabic, tattoos became generally considered haram.

Social pressures have also pushed tattoos back. Moroccan culture despises body modification. While older women with Amazigh face tattoos are respected and seen as gentle reminders of the old world, younger women are strongly discouraged from getting tattoos of any kind, especially on the face.

An Amazigh woman carrying a basket on her head in the Djemaa El Fna (Jemaa el-Fnaa) market in Marrakech, Morocco, circa 1950 [Getty Images]

Nationalism and the importance of belonging to a country – and not to a small 4,000-year-old community – have disintegrated Amazigh culture and traditions. Today, the Imazighens of today are not only Amazighs, they are also Moroccans, Algerians, etc. The natural desire to belong has slowly driven younger Amazigh generations to immerse themselves in their country’s dominant nationalist traditions and sentiments, leaving their roots in a dark corner to fend for themselves.

In reality, the values ​​and ideologies of Amazigh life could not be more relevant today. Along with language and kinship, “the centrality of the land” is one of the most important values ​​that have gone through the Islamization and nationalization of regions of Amazigh origin.

The Amazigh land and nature do more than provide food, water and shelter. The tall palm trees and jagged mountains serve to physically and metaphorically protect what little Amazigh culture they have left.

In a world full of congested streets and polluted atmospheres, the heartfelt respect the Amazigh have for their land is truly heartwarming. They were able to maintain the fertility of the soil and the flow of the rivers for generations. Hopefully recent environmental developments don’t punish those who have worked so hard to preserve their precious cultural oases.

Looking at the soft, wrinkled face of an old Amazigh woman, it’s hard not to get a little sentimental. His eyes are kind. The tattoos running down her forehead and chin have become faded and undefined, but they are still undeniably striking.

In the West, face tattoos are considered scary and intense, but hers are uplifting. They tell the story of a young woman drawn into a world that no longer justifies the symbols that made her fertile, protected and beautiful in a time of colonization, Islamization and urbanization.

How must she feel knowing that her children and grandchildren cannot, will not be, marked with the same lines, dots and dashes that have given her so much strength during this difficult time?

Yasmina Achlim is a Moroccan-American freelance writer who loves good vegan food, living mindfully, and dressing sustainably.

The Best Farm-Inspired Beauty Products Wed, 02 Feb 2022 17:38:00 +0000

According to CNN, farm-to-table has become a common idea in restaurants and homes. But harnessing the benefits of Mother Nature isn’t just for foodies, of course. Some of the best beauty trends historically rely on natural ingredients such as milk, salt, oats and honey. In a beauty report by Marie Claire, the long list of Egyptian beauty secrets includes the use of sesame oil to deter wrinkles and burnt almonds as eyebrow filler.

These days, we don’t usually burn our own brow almonds (although, admittedly, that can be a fun project for Galentine’s Day). Instead, we rely on the experts to curate farm-fresh beauty products ranging from serums and masks to cleansers.

Along with serving hydration and nutrients, farm-inspired skincare can be a natural alternative to harsh chemicals. In an interview with Well + Good, board-certified dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling, MD, recalls that “your skin is your body’s largest organ, and what you put in it gets absorbed through your pores and into your body.”

So if you love clean beauty trends, take advantage of nature’s bounty and refresh your beauty foundations with some farm-to-face glow.

Celery stalk acts like a magic wand in this skin-plumping serum

Celery is loaded with moisture and antioxidants, according to WebMD, and the folks at Sweet Chef put it to good use. This plumping celery + hyaluronic acid serum combines celery and green sprouts blended, and it’s infused with hyaluronic acid. The website lets you search for kale, beets, ginger, and more.

This drugstore beauty buy is getting rave reviews on Byrdie, giving it a big green boost. At under $25, it turned the unassuming stalk of celery into a magic wand.

Follow in the footsteps of a queen with this plant-based beauty brand

Radishes and melons, oh la la! Dehiya Beauty, a black-owned herbal beauty brand, is named after the North African queen of the Amazigh (“free people“). She was a mighty warrior, and these beauty products channel all that and more. The brand honors traditional skincare with ingredients like radish, Kalahari melon and geranium. Their simple vision of beauty includes inclusivity across all skin tones and all ages. Check out the Safi Mist for a boost of hydration and antioxidants, or boost your glow with their lip and cheek tints.

Treat yourself to skincare harvested and created at Stonegate Farm in New York

Grown on the gracious lands of Stonegate Farm in New York, Cultivate Apothecary offers a full line of skincare. Co-founders Jill Rowe and Matthew Benson are the self-proclaimed “happy stewards” of the farm, which they describe as a “magical, productive piece of land.” Their exfoliating botanical mask has an ingredient list that includes pink clay, quince, lady’s mantle, calendula flower, aronia berry, comfrey leaf, and lemon balm. Quinces from the orchard and hand-mixed formulas? Yes please!

Use fresh honey face mask to get hydrated and glowing skin

Made in California, Oak Essentials is the gorgeous beauty creation from lifestyle brand Jenni Kayne. Although they have an easygoing minimalist vibe, there is one thing they are fiercely opposed to. Their all-natural products are free of dyes, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, sulfates, petroleum, mineral oil, silicones, PEGs, and nanoparticles. So if you’re looking for more makeup-free days, grab Zoe Report’s recommendation – the repair mask – and harness the power of her honey.

Boost your skin’s radiance with pumpkin puree and yogurt

Whipped pumpkin and yogurt. No, it’s not a smoothie; it’s your skin’s new go-to de-gunker. FarmHouse Fresh offers the Quick Recovery Face Mask Sampler: a trio of their unique pumpkin, avocado, and tapioca face masks. Don’t let the simple ingredients fool you. Praised by Coveteur for using powerful products, FarmHouse Fresh is an expert in skin care, body care and fragrance. They grow and harvest their own microgreens for their products, which is enough to pique our interest.

Include carrots in your beauty routine for a natural glow

Esker’s Repairing Oil has lovingly taken to the garden to achieve its goal of reducing the appearance of aging through the antioxidant-rich properties of carrots. The beloved brand has fans at Vogue and has us clamoring for new beauty buys. The serum is bottled in recyclable glass and includes a small packet of pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds. So, make room in your skincare routine and on a sunny windowsill; Esker offers beauty for both. (You just need to understand the most common gardening mistakes for beginners before growing these seeds.)

All in all, farm-to-table beauty is the beauty bonus you need for natural-looking glow and radiance no matter the season.

Morocco reopens to tourists: Everything you need to know to plan a last-minute trip Tue, 01 Feb 2022 14:05:50 +0000

From February 7, Morocco lifts the ban on international flights and reopens to tourists.

In November, the country international flights banned and ferry services as the omicron variant spread around the world. Only people with special exemptions could enter.

With “the evolution of the epidemiological situation”, the government now announces that Morocco will be fully open to tourists on February 7.

“A technical committee is currently examining the measures to be adopted at border crossings,” said a government statement. Specific tourist entry requirements will be announced at a later date, so pay attention to these if you are planning a vacation in the coming weeks.

Visitors should also take into account that once in Morocco, masks and temperature checks are mandatory in cafes, restaurants, cultural sites, on public transport and in taxis.

Here are some reasons why you should visit this North African country.

Stroll through the winding medieval streets of Essaouira

On Morocco’s Atlantic coast, the city of Essaouira is perhaps best known for its connection to game of thrones. It was used as a filming location for the fictional town of Astapor in the third season of the television series. You might recognize him from the scene where Daenerys first encounters her army of the Unsullied.

Besides appearing on the small screen, the UNESCO-listed city is also a hub of culture. Winding through its narrow streets, you will find shops selling local crafts, restaurants and cafes. There’s more than the standard pottery stalls and rugs to be found here.

Beware, however, as it is also known for its strong wind. You may want to cover your hair and be careful when walking on the seafront, especially if you are with young children.

Taste delicious traditional dishes

One of the main reasons to visit Morocco has to be the food. Smells of authentic spicy tagines, falafels and pastries waft through the streets of most cities. Mint tea is a welcome gesture in Moroccan culture, so you’re almost certain to be offered this sweet green tea during your stay, too.

If you want a truly traditional taste of Moroccan cuisine, head to Berber villages and camps for home-cooked food. Called Amazigh, the traditional cuisine has a range of different influences from across North Africa, including the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert.

Majorelle Garden, Marrakesh

This two and a half acre botanical garden was restored by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner in 1980. It was originally designed by painter Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s using an artist’s color palette.

Water is at the center of the garden with lily ponds, fountains and streams providing a welcome oasis in the center of the hot city. In addition to an extensive collection of plants, there’s a courtyard cafe, a book and photography shop, and a boutique selling Saint Laurent-inspired items. Visit The Majorelle Garden website to book your tickets.

Browse the stalls of a souk

The souks are probably one of Morocco’s best-known attractions. These markets are found in most cities and towns selling everything from pottery, fabrics and furniture to slippers and musical instruments.

Most travelers pass through Marrakech during their stay in the country and you will find some of the biggest and best souks here. Each sells its own selection of produce, but if you’re looking for amazing food, head to Jemaa el-Fna after dark. Here there are hundreds of stalls selling a range of foods.

In the center of the square, storytellers practice a traditional Moroccan art which is a fusion of music, comedy and current affairs. It’s worth taking the time to sit down and savor the experience as you eat.

If you decide to walk around a souk, pay attention to the people around you. Pickpockets are very common, so avoid wearing flashy jewelry or carrying lots of cash.

Surf the beaches of Morocco

Warm weather and cheap accommodation mean Morocco is fast becoming one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world. The best time to visit is between December and March but with 1,835km of coastline there are good waves to be found all year round.

There are plenty of great beaches near popular towns like Rabat or Agadir, but if you’re looking for a serious challenge, head to Morocco’s surfing capital, Taghazout. Within 15 minutes of this fishing village, there are more than 20 world-class spots to discover.

Sunrise in the Sahara

Camping in the Sahara Desert may seem like a daunting prospect, but it’s the best way to experience its stunning beauty. Full of tour operators organize trips where everything is organized for you.

The amazing breathtaking view of the stars is one of the main reasons to venture into the sands of the world’s largest desert. Isolated from major cities or towns, there is little to no light pollution, so you can see hundreds of constellations and even the Milky Way in all its glory.

At dawn, you can watch the landscape transform as the sun rises over the desert. If camping is not for you, you can also take a camel ride to discover the Sahara.

Meet the Curator of the First Israeli Art Exhibition in the UAE Thu, 20 Jan 2022 17:05:48 +0000

Sharon Toval’s presentation will explore Israeli attitudes towards the lives of their ancestors in Arab lands

Sharon Toval, an independent contemporary art curator based in Tel Aviv, is preparing to organize the first Israeli exhibition in the United Arab Emirates.

Born in France, he moved to Israel over a decade ago and found his voice in curating artwork both there and abroad.

Longing Be-longing: On Post-Orientalist Influences in Contemporary Israel Art is the theme of his exhibition at the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF), which will take place in the northern emirate of Ras Al Khaimah during the month of February.

Toval’s theme is what he calls a post-Orientalist mindset.

“Orientalism in the 19th century was a way of perceiving the Orient through artistic practice, and that way was a very Western way of seeing the Orient. It was a very political way of looking at things, it was an imaginary way of looking at them,” he said in an interview with The Media Line.

“In Israel, you have a lot of people who come from ‘Oriental’ [Mizrahi] country,” he said. The new generation did not grow up in these countries, “they have all these stories about the way of living in these countries of their parents, which is a way of yearning for the other life, the simplicity, the very authentic way to live, far from this modernism,” added Toval.

“I took this artwork from this culture of longing for what they weren’t living but what their parents did,” he said. The exhibition aims to show the complexity of contemporary Israeli society.

Mati Elmaliach, Abigail, 2019. (Tal Nissim)

Toval used to visit Dubai before the countries signed the Abraham Accords in September 2020. But when he visited a year ago, he met a contact who offered him to participate in the festival of arts of Ras Al Khaimah.

While preparing for this year’s festival, he served as one of four judges from around the world, helping to decide who will present in different categories. Then they offered him the opportunity to organize his own exhibition.

“I hope that most people who have never had anything to do with anything related to Israel, experience a first approach to this little corner of the earth, its culture and its people,” he said. he declared.

The route to this exhibition

After Toval moved to Israel, he earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and management from the Technion in Haifa and a master’s degree in arts policy and theory from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

His family originated from Algeria, which may have sparked his interest in the origins of Jews from Arab lands. He spent time in Morocco on a residential curatorial fellowship in 2017. There he worked on researching Amazigh symbolism in rugs and tattoos and their relationship to contemporary Israeli artists of North African origin.

During his stay in Morocco, he was confronted with questions about the origins of “Arab Jews”.

“In Israel, the ideology is that people [in Arab countries] don’t like jews, but on the other side people don’t understand why people [the Jews] left,” he said.

His time in residence influenced his thinking. Toval curated an exhibition in 2018-19, about the encounter between social shame and Jews from Arab lands who faced racism when moving to Israel. Arabs in Israel still face classism and racism, he said, which made his exhibit controversial.

Ameera Zyian, Veil Self-portrait, 2016. (Courtesy)

“Many things that have remained from this period [of aliyah], this situation has developed a kind of subculture of politics, of society,” he said. “No one has done this before me. It was very controversial. »

“It’s a theme I always think about,” he said, explaining why he came up with the theme of Orientalism for the UAE exhibition. Toval will bring three videos, a photographic installation, a sculpture and numerous photographic pieces.

“I try to explain to other people in the world the Israeli society which is very complex. Even the expression “Israeli society” is not really an exact expression. It’s so divided; you have so many aspects of people, backgrounds, colors,” he said.

A video, he describes, shows two men dancing or fighting, with audio of a prayer that Jews sing in the synagogue. “It’s a very conceptual production of the Jewish oriental tradition, it’s a Moroccan song,” he said.

According to him, the video shows that loving and hating, dancing and fighting are the same thing. “It’s kind of uniting people together, that’s how I see it,” he said.

A “nomadic” guide to the paradise of the western desert in Egypt Wed, 29 Dec 2021 04:15:06 +0000

Places have souls, and Siwa’s soul is kind, mystical, and motherly. In the heart of the Western Desert, lies the majestic oasis with its unique Amazigh culture and breathtaking views. This desert paradise is located 560 kilometers from Cairo, between the Qattara depression and the great sea of ​​sand. We were fortunate enough to experience and breathe the ancient city ourselves with Nomads, a prolific Egyptian travel group that for years has sparked the envy of Egyptian travelers with their carefully curated, immersive trips. Their last excursion took us headlong into a very unique experience that perfectly ties the meditative setting of the oasis to the history that surrounds it.

Nestled at the foot of the Red Mountain – four kilometers from the Temple of the Oracle – we found our home at Taziry Ecovillages. The living room includes 40 Berber-inspired rooms with date palm ceilings, creating a sustainable village built with local materials and techniques. It overlooks a magnificent palm grove and their market, housing 50 craft workshops reviving the know-how in terms of sustainable life of the ancestral natives of Siwa. They also built a library and a museum to showcase not only the wonders of Berber arts, literature and music, but also the universal sciences that pursue and stimulate sustainable development.

During the trip, we discovered tombs from the Ptolemaic era, natural hot springs springing from the earth, the healing powers of salt crystals and the rich heritage of the Siwi people – these are our attractions and activities. essentials.

Chali fortress

In the literal heart of Siwa, Shali Fortress is an ancient walled city built in the 13th century. Walking around this imposing ancient city of clay and salt is like stepping back in time, with its walls fashioned from a local mixture of mud, clay and salt known as kershef. Shali Fortress, built on a hill, has been the center of Siwan’s life for over 800 years. Originally, there was only one gate in the oasis, which had to be accessed through the fortress, and protected the Siwi people from looters.

Over time, through multiple battles, and after a powerful rainstorm, the fortress naturally deteriorated. A recent renovation project by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has given it back its former glory. If you are able to climb the stairs of its tallest structures, you sign up for a view like no other.

Spring of Cleopatra (Spring of Juba)

Coming out of the ground, this natural spring is not the only one in Siwa, but it is the most popular. Located in the heart of the city, this is where many locals first learn to swim. Although the well was never visited by Cleopatra herself, as the name suggests, it is reminiscent of the hot water baths for which the Egyptian queen was known.

The natural sulfuric spring water gushes into a large stone pool and is a perfect way to relax after a day of exploring or to wash off the salt from nearby lakes. The well is also surrounded by cafes and small restaurants with comfortable shaded lounging areas to recharge after your swim.

Fetnas Island (Fantastic Island)

Fetnas Island, or Fantasy Island as most tourists call it, is a scenic piece of land on Lake Siwa, a short drive from the town. Bordered by rustling date palms, with the great sea of ​​sand yawning beyond them, the island is a perfect place to watch the sun set behind the rocky outcrop over the lake while sipping mint tea in the two small cafes on the island. There are hammocks, chairs and at night there is even a fire pit to beat the cold desert breeze.

Jebel Mawta (Mountain of the Dead)

This outcrop is an ancient burial place of ancient Romans and Egyptians, dotted with empty tombs. Jebel Mawta (or “Mountain of the Dead”) is located at the northern end of Siwa. Its tombs cover the mountain from base to top, and it is one of the most fascinating and mysterious places to visit in Siwa. The tombs date as far back as the Ptolemaic era. One of the most interesting tombs is that of a Roman, Si Amon, who decided to make Siwa his home.

The importance of the mountain has continued well into modern times. During World War II, when the Italians bombed Siwa, local Siwans took refuge in the graves of Jebel Mawta. It is indeed at this time that the most magnificent tombs of the mountain were discovered.

There are no cameras or tripods allowed inside the tombs, but visitors are welcome to use their cell phones. As the mountain is located on the outskirts of town, you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the oasis with the wind blowing your hair – that is, if you make it to the top of the mound.

Temple of the Oracle (Temple of Alexander)

One of the most important temples in Siwa is the Temple of the Oracle. This temple dates back to the 26th Dynasty and was visited by Alexander the Great. It was there that he was told he was a son of Zeus, which helped the emperor consolidate his rule over the region. The hidden hallway that runs along both sides of the main temple chamber is just about large enough for a person to comfortably walk around. Rumor has it that if you call from within, those inside the temple chamber may be inclined to believe that you are the voice of the Oracle.

A short drive from the Temple of the Oracle, you’ll find a single decorated wall amidst ruins. This lonely wall is all that remains of the vast temple of Amun. This once magnificent temple was almost completely destroyed in 1896 when a local Ottoman governor razed the entire structure with dynamite, hoping to use temple stone for the building blocks.

Siwa market

Walking through Siwa Market is a bit like walking through an open-air museum of an ancient civilization. The streets are lined with bakeries, cafes and small restaurants, giving off an air of organized chaos not unlike that of Cairo markets.

Siwa is known for its remarkable dates, olives, herbs, teas, jams and syrups, all of which you can find in the shops in the market. What you really shouldn’t miss, however, are the famous lamps and handicrafts made from the salt mined from Siwa’s own iconic salt lakes, which are said to have healing and stress-reducing powers. The export of salt is at the heart of Siwan’s economy. In fact, the destination was crowned Land of Salt due to the oasis’ natural salt lakes, from which salt is used for, well, everything. From building their homes and work tools to the products they export, including beauty products and spa treatments, you’ll be able to browse dozens of natural skin and body products drawn from the healing powers of crystals. salt.

Djellabas – common dresses – can also be found within these stalls, rich in jewel tones and embroidered designs native to North African tribes. Their traditional Amazigh textiles, clothing and accessories make lasting memories.

Salt Lake Quarry

Visiting the salt lakes is not an optional excursion. We do not want to diminish all the cultural treasures that surround it by saying that it is the whole point of visiting the Siwa oasis but hey, it is in a way.

Between palm trees and the vast desert, nestled amid mountains of excavated salt, you’ll find emerald blue waters so enchanting that few visitors can’t help but approach them.

The Siwa Salt Company is leading the excavation operation that surrounds the salt lakes, but visitors are welcome to enter the quarry and bathe in the lake’s mineral-rich waters. These waters have one of the highest water-to-salt ratios in the world, even higher than the Dead Sea in Jordan, which means anything that enters its waters is floating and no species can live there.

Yoga classes

When you are surrounded by breathtaking nature, Siwa already puts you at peace almost immediately, while the stress of city life vanishes like a bad dream. Now imagine magnifying that with one of the oldest forms of decompression in the world – yoga. Practicing yoga in Siwa is an amazing experience that will deepen you and inspire you if you are a regular practitioner. If you are not, then you may become addicted. We joined yogi Nasrin Halawa in a morning yoga session where we soaked up the tranquility in front of the idyllic Shali Fortress.


In what you can expect to be an incredibly calming trip overall, sandboarding in the Great Sand Sea is one of the few ways to incorporate adrenaline into your travel itinerary. Before sunset, head out into the desert to climb the dune tops and slide down as the colors of Siena’s skyline materialize.