Yassine Karkich

Produced by: Sharq.Org
Part of the Curated Collection: Taboos & Society,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Morocco
Production Team:
Available Collateral:

Transcript of the interview (translated from Arabic):

Hello, my name is Yassine Karkich from the city of Tetouan in northern Morocco. I was born in 1991 and I’m thirty-one years old. Right now, I am working in a project for Spanish international cooperation in the city of Tetouan targeting youth and women suffering from social exclusion situations. As for my academic education, I graduated with a degree in Sociology, and I have another degree in journalism and media. I am also a civil activist in a group of youth and civil initiatives in the city of Tetouan, as well as a graduate of a cultural exchange program with the Middle East Partnership Initiative with the support of the US State Department.

There were not often times when I felt unable to express my identity. In fact, there is no specific issue on which I could not express my opinion, given that the society in which I live accepts the views of men socially. I am a young man who lives in a socially and culturally mixed city with different sects and people of other religions and races. So, I didn't really have difficulty expressing the opinions that make up my identity. However, there is perhaps an aspect of the traditions, the traditions that govern Moroccan society in general and Tetouan society in particular, which sometimes suppressed the aspirations and the situations that we faced when we were young, especially at the end of the 90s and the beginning of 2000 in particular. So, I can't say there was an obstruction for me or a situation where I couldn't express my identity. Others, young women for example because they are women as well as people who belong to some other different identities, may face such situations. But when it comes to traditions that fall within the framework of taboos, this applies to men as well, and I fall into this category.

Perhaps previously there were some obstacles that imposed restrictions on people and limited their capabilities, especially travel or movement in general, which was a big problem, unlike nowadays. Now travel and movement between cities and between countries has become available and secured to some extent. But in the past, for example, if a young man wanted to move between different cities or travel outside the country in order to complete his studies or for the purpose of cultural exchange, this was difficult because society did not accept such ideas, out of fear, insecurity, and the cultural residue that society carries and the belief that travel must be in groups or in an institutional setting. Otherwise, traveling individually or going to another place and to another culture was not accepted by society and most families, except for some families with very high financial or educational levels, or live in large cities or cities nearby the capital, for example. As for marginal societies or cities or small towns, they were suffering from this issue. Likewise, the cultural and social level of most families. Most of these families do not have an advanced level of education. For example, our mothers and fathers, unfortunately, did not have an education. They did not go to school and did not have the opportunity to travel. Therefore, the world in their view is limited to the extent that they knew. That is why we, the children, when we try to break barriers and rebel against traditions to make our own choices, we used to collide with these barriers that the family or society places for you in general. This was up to a certain age, and for a certain period, but thank God, for some time now, these things were surpassed, and due to globalisation and due to global culture, everything became available and the cultural residues that families carried were erased. 

These traditions were gradually broken, thanks primarily to the activism of young people, including me, who kept trying without despair. We did not fail and did not accept the traditions or ideas that we saw as an obstacle and did not see any logic or benefit in them. Thus, we have always sought a kind of freedom as people, as young people, seeking a kind of self-affirmation and proving to our families and those who carry these traditions that we are in a new era in a changing time in which everything changes, systems, policies, laws, and technological development. That is why we have come at a time when we cannot live with traditional barriers and frameworks that you carried from the past. I personally continued to try, and the family was somewhat accepting of me doing what I wanted at a certain stage, especially after secondary school, and I took advantage of this. I took advantage of this space and proved through my participation, my travels, and my openness to other cultures, other races, and people of other religions that we really should do things we believe in and not allow society and traditions to limit us, and that we should stick to traditions that only help us reach what we dream of.

Social taboos may affect or stand in the way of prosperity and peace in Moroccan society. I believe that Moroccan society is in fact a peaceful society, open and accepting of the other, except for some exceptions and some isolated cases. However, the Moroccan people, for the most part, since the beginning of history, are open to others, regardless of their background, without any room for isolation. But some taboos that were not previously mentioned in society are now being discussed in a modest manner. For example, sex and homosexuality. Homosexuality is still very much condemned in Moroccan society and it is still not acceptable at all for it to be made public or recognised by law etc. Therefore, this matter remains a social taboo, although we see those people on the streets and they live among us in society, but from the public point of view, and from the official and legal point of view, this matter is still socially forbidden, without any discussion or progress occurring in it. As well as the issue of women in general. Some issues related to women in Morocco see great progress, for example in the field of bargaining, equal opportunities, a set of laws, and the presence of women in a range of positions and a range of fields. However, some forms of violence against women, especially between married couples, are still among the taboos that have not been dismantled. We find that those affected by this taboo are the family and women, Women are mostly affected, and it also affects children and older generations. Despite this, this taboo remains one of the things that are kept silent in many cases, but it affects reality and society greatly because this is reflected in the upbringing of generations and is reflected in their studies and their right to study, work, live, and entertainment. From my point of view, there are a number of taboos, but the two examples mentioned, especially the second topic, greatly affect society, and this is reflected in development, and in the end, it is reflected in the prosperity and well-being of society.