"Culture Against Triviality", Moroccans campaign to promote reading

Ahram Online, Monday 23 Apr 2012

Cultural activists launch literary flashmob outside Moroccan parliament on World Book Day to encourage reading, as citizens spend 24 times less money than the world average on books


Civilian activists in Morocco launched a campaign entitled  "Culture Against Triviality" calling people to read a book for an hour in front of the Moroccan Parliament as a part of their participation in 23 April's  World Book Day.

This symbolic initiative aims to spread awareness of the importance of books and reading in the life of the Moroccan citizens. According to a report published by the Saudi News Network AlArabiya.net, the literary flash mob aims to promote what it calls “real culture” working against cultural stereotypes based on destructive values that the group feels debases Moroccan public taste.

Reading percentages are poor in Morocco. According to recent statistics, a Moroccan citizen spends an average of just one Moroccan dirham (MD) per year on buying books (around 11 cents) at a time when the world average is MD25 ($3). In addition Morocco publishes only 2,000 titles per year while in France, for example, 60,000 new releases hit the shelves annually.

Cultural movements in Morocco recently called for halting the country's “Mawazeen World Singing Festival” via videos posted on the internet. The clips included statements by academics, musicians, and intellectuals who criticised spending so much money on such festivals while neglecting books and reading activities.

The activists called for a boycott of all the "trivial" recreational activities.  Moroccan thinker, Idrissi Abu-Zaid said in an excerpt of one of the videos that "reading is a nation, shaped like a pyramid, its basis is the readers, and its middle is the intellectuals, while its top is scientists."

 Abu-Zaid, who is a leading member of the ruling Justice and Development party,  warned against marginalising books and not encouraging reading, stressing that the long term impact on society will jeopardise Morocco's place in the international arena.

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