Nearly two months after my arrival in Morocco, I started to realize some things that I did not know or expect before coming for the first time there.
I feel important to express my feelings about the paradoxes I found there.
Disclaimer: this article is totally subjective, do not take my following statements as facts, but more like a personal feedback since what I will be explaining reflect my occidental culture which is different from the Morrocan's one.
First I would like to start with a tricky topic: religion and laws. So as you may know, Islam plays a big role in the culture and leads the citizens in their daily life. As I have already talked about points, I will limit myself to a recent experience.
So I was talking to a colleague and I asked him if he was married. He answered me that yes, he got married a year ago and he is waiting for a baby this summer. He met his wife 5 years ago while she was 16 and him 23. At that point, I realized how the wedding is really important for women (many of them still not work, so they need to find a husband and then take care of the family) and I started to do some researches on the subject. What I found out surprised me: the average age for men getting married is way higher than women (~28 against ~21). It can be explained by the fact above, and also because men can have an active sexual life without getting married whereas women will be criticized if they do so before.
And here is the paradox: less and less women wait for the wedding due to the cultural development, change in mindset and such, but the law and religion keep their positions. For the fact, the law says that if anybody (man or woman) has sexual activity before the wedding, they will be sentenced to jail and pay a fine.
Something else paradoxical related to the religion: alcohol. Supposed to be prohibited and forbidden, it represents one of the biggest sales in the supermarket. You can be charged if you are drinking alcohol but since it is pretty hard to verify (most of Muslims drink in their property) and it is getting more and more in a "grey area", they keep drinking.
I also realized that for many other things:
- As a foreigner, I must have a visa to stay in the country. Many of European students take the "tourist visa" which is automatically given and lasts for three months. And then what? Well, the law says that you have to ask for a prolongation if you are willing to stay longer. But the process is such complex and long, that nobody does it. Instead, people do a "stupid" (I mean the logic behind is quite funny) thing: they just get out of the country (generally go for Spain) for the weekend, and then come back so the visa resets.
- Traffic. In theory, there are rules as we do have in France, but it is realistic to say that Casablanca (apparently it is proper to the city) is like a free zone, out of the rules. It definitely looks like a jungle, the only rule is: do not drive over someone or create an accident. Forget everything you knew about red traffic lights, pedestrians priority (the thing I hated the most about the traffic, because I was always walking, and it is so painful to travel since none respect you, none let you cross the street even on the crosswalk and on top of that, it is pretty dangerous due to the driver behavior that is totally unpredictable), safety rules and everything else.
In a nutshell, many things in Casablanca are paradoxical.
I questioned myself why, but this time I did not find any explanation. Of course, the culture plays a role, but it does not explain anything and any behavior. I mean why would you create (laws) and follow kind of a behavior guide (religion) if you do not carry out them fully.