During turbulent times in volatile countries overseas there are moments when the interests of many of us are not best served by the world’s news media. To judge by numerous headlines, one could be forgiven for imagining that political unrest is rife not only throughout much of the Middle East but right across North Africa too and that, as a result, travel to these countries, for Americans and Europeans especially, should be discouraged. How often have we been asked over the past year or two “Is Morocco a safe country to visit?”
The question is not surprising – people don’t know the facts because they are not well informed. Well, the good news is that, as far as this north-west corner of Africa is concerned, life goes on as normal, the political situation being entirely calm as, indeed, it has been throughout the so-called Arab spring. Apart from a couple of minor, well disciplined demonstrations in Casablanca and Rabat, no social unrest has taken place and the country is as safe to visit today as it has ever been.
There is more than one reason for this social and political stability. The fact is that, while undeniably included within the community of Arab nations, Morocco is essentially a country of Berbers (about half the population) and a significant minority is comprised of people from a variety of other ethnic backgrounds, significant populations of Jews and Christians included. Not surprisingly, given the 4,000 km separation between the Atlantic and the Middle East, Morocco has relatively little to do with the rest of the Arab world, religious connections notwithstanding. So why would one think twice about visiting the country? Would one cancel a trip to Portugal because of political unrest in, say, Greece? Still in need of reassurance? Feedback from recent visitors via such sites as The Review Centre, Trip Advisor, Expedia, HolidayCheck.com and many others make it quite clear that the holiday experience in Morocco today is as safe and rewarding as it ever was. Stop press: Morocco has not been included in France’s decision this week to close, on Friday, its embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in some 20 Muslim countries around the world to avoid possible violent demonstrations in reaction to the publication by a French weekly of blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.