Morocco .. controversy after withdrawing a cultural award from 9 writers | culture

Rabat – The decision of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture to withdraw the Morocco Prize for Writers for the 2021 session from 9 writers, writers and translators who won it equally in 5 categories caused widespread controversy in Morocco.

The award is one of the highest awards in the Kingdom and is an annual culmination of the best Moroccan books published in the fields of humanities and social sciences, literary and artistic studies, poetry, translation, narratives and narratives.

The ministry said that it had received a collective letter from 9 winners requesting that they be given the full amount of the prize that they received equally.

After describing this request as “the precedent in the award’s history, which exceeded half a century of radiation based on invoking its legal aspects and its moral standing,” the ministry expressed its regret that all the connotations of the award were reduced to its material value, noting that the principle of parity is universally applicable and is based on sharing the award amount. between the winners.

Precedent and illegal

The decision sparked conflicting reactions among intellectuals and activists on social media, among those who supported the ministry’s decision and criticized the reduction of the award to its material dimension, and who considered it a precedent in Morocco’s cultural history, a violation of the law and an insult to the crowned.

For its part, the Moroccan Writers Union described the decision of the Minister of Youth and Culture to withdraw the Morocco Prize for Writers from its winners as “a dangerous precedent that affects the dignity of the cultural and creative body in Morocco.”

In a communiqué issued by the Federation, the Federation expressed its regret and condemnation of the Minister’s decision to withdraw the award from its winners with all merit and merit, considering that his decision has no legal basis for it, and that he has no right to take it.

The statement also described the decision as unjust and inconsistent, and a move that “harmed the reputation of the award and the decisions of its committees, and the image of the Kingdom of Morocco and its cultural radiance.”

The Moroccan writer and academic Yahya Bin Al-Walid, who won the prize in equal shares in the social sciences branch, expressed his astonishment at the decision of the Ministry of Culture, which he described as “hasty.”

Bin Al-Walid said – to Al-Jazeera Net – that the minister had to interact with a reply letter with the informal petition submitted by the crowned, explaining his ministry’s position and opinion on the request they submitted or communicating with them directly instead of escalation and making a hasty decision.

Yahya bin Al-Walid – who was crowned last year among the winners of the Katara Prize for Arabic Fiction in the category of studies and research – believes that this decision does not affect the results announced by the scientific committees.

He said, “The scientific committees are the ones that awarded the prizes and are authorized to withdraw them, and this did not happen despite the ministry’s contact with the heads of the committees and urging them to cancel the results.”

The headquarters of the Ministry of Culture in Rabat (Al Jazeera)

Going to court

Al-Tayeb Amkrud, the joint winner of the award in the category of Amazigh literary creativity, explained that after the results were announced, the winners in some branches of the award equally submitted an unofficial petition to the Ministry of Culture in January explaining their reading of Article 13 of the decree regulating the award.

Article 13 states that “the winner of the Morocco Prize for Writers shall be awarded: a certificate, a souvenir, and a net amount of 120,000 dirhams,” or about $12,000.

Amkrod said that this article talks about the winner of the award, and it applies to each candidate announced by one of the award committees as a winner, pointing to the absence of any legal clause that talks about awarding it equally, as is the case with international awards.

The spokesman said, “Instead of providing clarifications or opening channels to communicate with us, we were surprised by the ministry’s e-mail message withdrawing the award from us and linking the matter to financial reasons,” pointing out that among the winners are well-known names and it is not appropriate for the Ministry of Culture to charge them with free charges.

He added, “The ministry has no right to withdraw the award because it is not the awarding body, but rather a specialized scientific committee.”

Amcrod sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling on him to intervene urgently to reconsider the decision to withdraw the Morocco Prize for Writers by the Ministry of Culture, which is the same step taken by the rest of the winners.

Amkrod pointed out that the next stage is to go to the administrative judiciary to decide on the matter, stressing that “the judiciary will decide whether the Ministry of Culture’s decision to withdraw the award is legal or not, and also in the interpretation of Article 13 of the law regulating the award.”

legal decision

While the nine crowned people affirmed – in a joint statement – their adherence to their right to resort to the administrative judiciary, “after we despaired of closing the door of the Ministry of Culture throughout this past period,” according to the statement.

The source added – to Al Jazeera Net – that Article 13 of the law regulating the award was misinterpreted, and that the award was reduced to its material value, which is a logic that cannot be accepted.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Culture began two months ago to work on amending the law regulating the Morocco Prize for Writers, so that it would include clauses that would raise the prize’s value financially and legally.

The Ministry of Culture announced the final results of the Morocco Prize for Writers in mid-December, after the work of the scientific committee headed by the writer and academic Abdelali Oudgiri ended.

The prize was awarded equally in 5 categories, as the poetry prize was given to the poet Muhammad Ali Al-Rabawi for his collection “Rayhin Al-Alam”, and to the poet Rashid Al-Momani for his collection “Of Anything”.

The Humanities Prize was awarded equally to Boubacar Bouhadi for his book “Morocco and the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939,” and Yahya Yahyaoui for his book “The Digital Data Environment.”

As for the Social Sciences Prize, it was awarded equally to Yahya bin Al-Walid for his book “Where are the Arab Intellectuals? Contexts and Representations”, and to Idris Maqbool for his book “Man, Urbanism and the Language: A Message on the Decline of Forms in the Arab City”.

The translation prize was awarded equally to Ahmed Buhassan for his translation of the book “The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: The Muslim Traveler in the Fourteenth Century AD” and to Muhammad al-Jarti for his translation of the book “The End of Jewish Modernity: A Conservative Turning History.”

The prize for Amazigh literary creativity went to Hassan Ibrahim Amoury for his novel “Titberen Tirhaddh” (Naked Pigeons), and Tayeb Amkrod for his book “Arokal” (embers under the ashes).