Thursday, January 15, 2004

Fromherz visits Morocco

Allen Fromherz, while visiting Morocco, didn't come across the anti-American sentiment that he thought he would:

The week before I left for Morocco on a Fulbright Scholarship, I told concerned friends that I would call myself "a Canadian" rather than an American. The Muslim world I expected was one where modernism and America were shunned. Jews were seen universally as evil. I would have to watch my back in the streets.

But I did not experience the Muslim world I had anticipated.

On a typical morning in Morocco, I would hear parents worrying about their children's education, a man hoping for a brighter future with his new banana business, and a group of beggars waiting eagerly for the couscous provided by worshipers at the local mosque.

Then there was the old Jewish nurse that my friend Nabil called her "grandmother." She had returned from Israel to her home in the Mellah, the Jewish quarter in Morocco.

As an American, I was targeted - not to test me or harm me, but rather to invite me to dinner. At first, I was concerned that my hosts would have a different reaction once I said that I was an American.

In fact, the reaction was one of welcome. As I sat there, often in a seat of honor, surrounded by delicious sweets, couscous, and rich foods offered to me by people who spend half their budget on sustenance, I wondered how Americans would welcome an Arab stranger.

While it's nice that Fromherz was received so well in Morocco, I take umbrage with his insinuation that an American would not welcome or befriend an Arab as his Arab acquaintances befriended him. Fromherz must think very little of his fellow citizens, and it's a quite a shame.


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