THE BLOG

Mourad, Dexter and the Saudi Scholar

By Hanane Harrath

His name was Mourad and he was 20 years old. He was very pleasant and very funny too. He was my driver from Casablanca airport to my hotel. Actually, driver was not his job. It was just a temporary occupation. "You know how it is here: at my age I should have already a job and provide for my family, my parents and my little sisters," he said with an uncomplaining voice. "So I got this job, but I still study because I really want to get the real job I am dreaming of." And Mourad's dreamy job was... forensic pathologist. Therefore he was studying legal medicine at Casablanca University. It was not easy, because he had to work a lot, sometimes by night, and wasn't able to attend all the lessons. "What did you make dream of such a job? How dissecting dead bodies can be attractive?" I asked. "I saw it in American series, in Dexter particularly, and I really liked it", he answered. There is no doubt: the American power definitely relies on "culture", very much more than on politics or diplomacy...

Then Mourad asked me what I was going to do in Casablanca. I told him that I was invited to the annual Moroccan book exhibition. "I went there, at the inauguration day," said Mourad, very enthusiastic. "Did you enjoy it? Was it really interesting?" I asked, really curious, because I had never been there before and had no idea of how it looked like. "Yes, it was really great! I don't read much, but I liked it, especially the Saudi Arabia stand: it is so huge! And you know what? They gave us three books, for free! I still have one in the car." He had barely finished his sentence that he started opening the glove box and gave me the book. It was, no surprise, an orthodox --again, no surprise -- exegesis of the Quran, written by a Saudian scholar. "Do you like it?" I said. "Yes, of course," he replied. "They are the ones who encourage us knowing our religion, our traditional values and ethics! They know their responsibility, not like other Arab leaders who do not educate us."

I remained silent till the hotel. I remained silent but my head was boiling. I was wondering how Mourad could at the same time enjoy spending his free time with American series and orthodox Saoudian scholars. I was wondering how Mourad could be at the same very scientific in his studies and very unscientific regarding the intellectual positions of some Muslim scholars. I was wondering how such a young boy could build his identity, from his references (American culture), and his belongings (Muslim, Arab, Moroccan... community). I was wondering if he could one day achieve his dream and become a forensic pathologist, because of his responsibility towards his family that took him almost all his time. And aybe his life. I was wondering how many Mourads there were in Morocco and elsewhere.

It was three years ago and my head is still boiling.

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