Morocco: Tetouan

Tétouan (Arabic: تطوان‎, Berber languages: ⵜⵉⵟⵟⴰⵡⵉⵏ, French: Tétouan, Spanish: Tetuán) is a city in northern Morocco. The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Tétouan is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. It lies a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 60 km (40 mi) E.S.E. of Tangier. In the 2014 Moroccan census the city recorded a population of 380,787 inhabitants. Tétouan's civil airport Sania Ramel Airport is located 6 km (4 mi) to the east.

In 1913 Tétouan became the capital of the Spanish protectorate of Morocco, which was governed by the Jalifa (Moroccan prince, serving as Viceroy for the Sultan), and the Spanish "Alto Comisario" accredited to him. It remained such a capital until 1956, when Morocco regained its full independence. The medina (old town) of Tétouan is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Arabic is the official language, the city has its own dialect, a particular citadin variant of non-Hilalian Arabic which is distinct from Jebli Arabic. However, Jebli Arabic is predominant since people from the neighboring rural areas settled in the city during the 20th century rural flights. The use of Spanish and French is still widespread especially by the businessmen and intellectual elites due to past colonial ties and geographic location close to Europe. The majority religion is Islam; small Christian and Jewish communities also exist.

In 1286 the Marinids built a casbah and mosque there. The first large scale building project took place in 1305 when the settlement was expanded by the Marinid king Abu Thabit Amir. He fortified the place and had it serve as a base for attacks on Ceuta, which had recently come under the rule of a rebellious member of the Marinid family. The official name of the Marinid city was 'Afrag' ('(royal) tent' in Berber). Unofficial documents kept referring to it as Tétouan. Around 1400 it was destroyed by the Castilians, because pirates used it for their attacks. By the end of the 15th century it was rebuilt by refugees from the Reconquista (reconquest of Spain, completed by the fall of Granada in 1492), when the Andalusian Moors first reared the walls and then filled the enclosure with houses. These Andalusians came into conflict with the Beni Hozmar tribe, after which they asked the Wattasid sultan for protection. In response, he sent 80 soldiers (according to one chronicle, 40 natives of Fes and 40 Riffians). In turn, the Andalusians paid a large amount of mithqal, thus insuring their autonomy. Instantly, the Andalusians, assisted by tribes from the surrounding mountains, started harassing the Spanish possessions on the Moroccan coast. These attacks led to the destruction of the city's harbor by the Spanish in 1565.

During this time city was governed by the Andalusian Abu Hassan al-Mandari and the city remained autonomous from the Saadi sultans, with the Saadis constantly trying to assert their power. In the 17th century the city was governed by the wealthy al-Naksis family.

Morocco is a member of the United Nations and belongs to the African Union (AU), Arab League, Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN_SAD). Morocco's relationships vary greatly between African, Arab, and Western states. Morocco has had strong ties to the West in order to gain economic and political benefits. France and Spain remain the primary trade partners, as well as the primary creditors and foreign investors in Morocco. From the total foreign investments in Morocco, the European Union invests approximately 73.5%, whereas, the Arab world invests only 19.3%. Many countries from the Persian Gulf and Maghreb regions are getting more involved in large-scale development projects in Morocco.

Government repression of political dissent has dropped sharply since the mid-1990s. The decades previous to this time are called the Years of Lead (Les Années de Plomb), and included forced disappearances, assassinations of government opponents and protesters, and secret internment camps such as Tazmamart. To examine the abuses committed during the reign of King Hassan II (1961–1999), the government has set up an Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER).

According to Human Rights Watch annual report 2016, Moroccan authorities restricted the rights to peaceful expression, association and assembly through several laws. The authorities continue to prosecute both printed and online media which criticizes the government and/or the king. There are also persistent allegations of violence against both Sahrawi pro-independence and pro-Polisario demonstrators in Western Sahara; a disputed territory which is occupied by and considered by Morocco as part of its Southern Provinces. Morocco has been accused of detaining Sahrawi pro-independence activists as prisoners of conscience.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Morocco, and can be punishable by 6 months to 3 years of imprisonment. [6] It is illegal to proselytise for any religion other than Islam (article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code), and that crime is punishable by a maximum of 15 years of imprisonment.[7]

In 2008, about 56% of Morocco's electricity supply was provided by coal. However, as forecasts indicate that energy requirements in Morocco will rise 6% per year between 2012 and 2050, a new law passed encouraging Moroccans to look for ways to diversify the energy supply, including more renewable resources. The Moroccan government has launched a project to build a solar thermal energy power plant and is also looking into the use of natural gas as a potential source of revenue for Morocco's government.

Morocco has embarked upon the construction of large solar energy farms to lessen dependence on fossil fuels, and to eventually export electricity to Europe.

Since the 7th century, Cannabis has been cultivated in the Rif Region. In 2004, according to the UN World Drugs Report, cultivation and transformation of Cannabis represents 0.57% of the national GDP of Morocco in 2002. According to a French Ministry of the Interior 2006 report, 80% of the cannabis resin (hashish) consumed in Europe comes from the Rif region in Morocco, which is mostly mountainous terrain in the north of Morocco, also hosting plains that are very fertile and expanding from Melwiyya River and Ras Kebdana in the East to Tangier and Cape Spartel in the West. Also, the region extends from the Mediterranean in the south, home of the Wergha River, to the north.[6] In addition to that, Morocco is a transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe.[7]

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