Magharebia (Washington DC)

4 February 2014

Morocco: Artists Urge Reopening Moroccan-Algerian Border

Casablanca — A group of Moroccan and Algerian artists were united on the set of Moubachara Maakom (Live with You) broadcast by 2M last Wednesday (January 29th) to discuss national, social, political and cultural issues.

The programme was attended by Algerian participants Cheb Bilal, Abdelkader Chaou, and Abdelkader Secteur, who joined the discussion live from Paris via satellite.

On the Moroccan side, the participants included young rapper Taoufiq Hazeb, nicknamed "Bigg", actor Driss Roukhe, and actress Latifa Ahrar. The discussion was moderated by journalist Jamea Kolhassan.

The theme of the episode was how artists could play a role in the elimination of the borders between the neighbouring countries, against the backdrop of the continued closure of the frontier and the dispute between Morocco and Algeria.

Roukhe said that both sides needed to rely on their shared traditions, culture and customs. The visitor to Algeria from Morocco would not realise he was outside his homeland except for the accent, as if you were in one of the regions of the same country.

He added that this cultural, social, and linguistic convergence could not be rescinded and this was the aspect any of the participants could stress.

"Our initiative is greater than any political interests. As artists we address creativity with which we can overcome barriers, overcome these differences and be one people," Roukhe said.

For his part, Bigg said that the artist was the microphone of his country. "His voice can reach everywhere and hence our message should penetrate both countries," he added.

Participants from both countries agreed that the two peoples lack artistic alliances that speak in one language and send one message, the content of which should be that we are one people and share the same problems and the same interests.

This is what youth groups today address in their music to the extent that you cannot distinguish between the two communities when listening to their songs. They address the same issues, be they illegal immigration, unemployment or a low standard of living.

Algerian humourist Abdelkader Secteur, who has become famous to Moroccans, expressed his pride in dealing artistically with Moroccans in more than one instance.

He talked about his experience with Moroccan artist Hassan El Fad, describing it as successful and important. The duo skilfully reached viewers' hearts in both countries when addressing the issue of the Moroccan-Algerian border.

Secteur said that he didn't find any problem in working with El Fad or in his participation in the sitcom "Yak Ehna Jiran"(We are Neighbours, Right?) last Ramadan.

For her part, Latifa Ahrar said that humanity was what unified the two peoples in their various identities, Arab and Amazigh, in all details of everyday life.

She lamented that these daily commonalities were divided by politics to a degree that has made seamless mobility between the two countries impossible, forcing people to go through the trouble of a long and hard journey that wastes time and money to travel between the two sides.

The programme broadcast a report about Algerian artists who flock to Morocco to embrace their loved ones and admirers while sharing moments of joy with the public.

Participants called on politicians in the two communities to be reasonable and evoke all of this common history so to overcome differences. These differences not only hinder their interests but also impede the development of the two countries and the Maghreb region as a whole, the artists pointed out.

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