Home » Morocco’s victories bring joy to the entire Arab world – Catherine Cornet

Morocco’s victories bring joy to the entire Arab world – Catherine Cornet

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Morocco’s victories bring joy to the entire Arab world – Catherine Cornet

For the first time an African and Arab team reaches the semifinals of the World Cup: Morocco’s victory over Portugal was celebrated from Rabat to Ramallah, from Khartoum to Paris to Madrid or Doha with an expression of unity rarely seen in the Arab world and in its diaspora.

Jordanian cartoonist Naser Jafari summed it up in one drawing:

Farah umm, Farah umm”, writes Jafari: the joy of a mother, the joy of a community. The concept of umma it is difficult to translate, it literally means “matria”, a female “homeland”, and historically refers to the entire community of believers and, by extension, to the entire Arab world.

The design is inspired by the video that went viral by Soufiane Boufal, the footballer born and raised in France who in 2016 decided to play for Morocco, his mother’s country. After the victory against Portugal Boufal took his mother to dance with him on the pitch: she immigrated to France thirty years ago, abandoned by her husband when Soufiane was three, she raised four children alone working as a cleaner.

Another Moroccan footballer, Achraf Hakimi, posted on Instagram the image of a kiss to his mother, accompanied by the comment “I love you mom”, getting three million likes: like Boufal, Hakimi was not born in Morocco but in Madrid, from a street vendor father and a cleaning lady mother.

For some, like the mother of coach Walid Regragui, Fatima, the journey to Doha was an opportunity they had never had: Fatima has lived in France for fifty years and had never followed her son away, she explains to the Moroccan sports channel Arriyadia . Doha was the first competition for which you left Paris. “Better than wags”, writes Al Jazeera: Arab mothers are the “magic potion” of the Moroccan team. And they are also a good occasion to pay homage to the courage and work of these mothers of the diaspora.

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How to play at home
The MDMs, or Marocains du monde, as they are called in Morocco, are Moroccans who live abroad and number more than 4.2 million today, making them one of the largest diasporas in Europe. At least 15,000 of them live in Qatar and several thousand more, from all over the world, have arrived to follow the first World Cup hosted by an Arab country: the generous visa policy towards Moroccans, unlike what Western countries do , helped generate a “home team” atmosphere in Qatar. The strength of this diaspora could also explain “Moroccomania”, as Rabat’s weekly Tel Quel called it: “Moroccans, North Africans, Africans, Arabs… A single common roar”.

Another unexpected sign of Arab and African unity around the Moroccan team is the omnipresence of Palestine in the Qatar stadiums. If the Arab rulers – Morocco in the first place – signed the Abrahamic agreements wanted by Jared Kushner for a “normalization” with Israel, in the stadiums and on the pitch in Doha the Moroccan team has always carried the Palestinian flag with them.

Palestinian artist Ezz Lulu has created an online animation where “Arab joy” mixes with support for Palestine.

In fact, “Palestine is the unexpected star of the World Cup”, writes the newspaper The Nation recalling that Palestine officially joined FIFA in 1998: “The world governing body of football is one of the first international organizations to have offered formal recognition”. Palestinian writer Jeanine Hourani adds in Al Araby that “we are witnessing the birth on the streets of Doha of a new popular support for the Palestinian cause through the World Cup”. Jordan’s chief editor of Al Quds, Bassam Badarin, was in Ramallah for Morocco’s victory against Portugal: “I saw with my own eyes the Moroccan flag hoisted everywhere in the city, on cars and houses. A huge popular celebration erupted in the streets after the Moroccan victory. One of the tailors in the city of Al Bireh told me that he sewed more than 10,000 Moroccan flags in one week.” Although the journalist was surprised by this solidarity for Arab brothers so distant, it was a pleasant surprise: “In the end, watching the World Cup and living it in Ramallah offered a great breath of fresh air”.

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Another striking image of solidarity between peoples despite conflicts between their governments comes from this video of Algerians who congratulate their Moroccan neighbors across a border closed for over 28 years on a victory “of the Arabs and all Muslims”.

On 14 December, Morocco will meet France for the semi-final: in the match, Moroccan defender Ashraf Hakimi will meet French striker Kylian Mbappé, friend and partner at Paris Saint-Germain: a “meeting between half-brothers”, headlines the French sports newspaper L’Equipe, like the Moroccan weekly Tel Quel. As always, it’s a family story…

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