VOY Inspire! With Ahmed Lagraoui: A Young Moroccan Intellectual

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Rita Baumer
Member since December 6, 2015
  • 13 Posts
  • Age 21

I have first met Ahmed when I was in 9th grade. It was during the preparations for a global showcase of Moroccan traditions linked to a visit of the ex-king of Greece. I went to the library. And there he was sitting with our French teacher and the librarian. I thought he was way older than me, by the way he spoke and how people listened to him. I didn’t know him, yet he was simply impressive. He was passionately speaking about a play starring Adel Emam, and damn he was speaking knowingly. I sat there listening, I didn’t have much to add, he said all there is to say.

Our second encounter was during a leadership workshop led by him and his friend Marouane. When the workshop almost came to an end, we all voiced our aspirations, dreams and ambitions. I remember very well what Ahmed said. He simply uttered: “I want to change Morocco for the better”. As the words left his mouth, everybody applauded, and few bursted in laughter. But I just sat there, staring at him, wondering: “Does he really think he can do something?”

This year, we are in the same class. He always has a say in the debates. Out of 500 high schoolers, only a few are interested in politics. He is one of them. And even among them, he is certainly one of the most passionate about Morocco. So I decided to interview him.

First things first, tell us a bit about yourself

I am a 17 year-old Moroccan and a member of the Moroccan Children’s parliament. I am a politics aficionado, especially Moroccan and Arabian politics. I am also a huge fan of Arab and Muslim culture. My favorite songs aren’t on the top charts and my favorite movies have never been in the box office. I love Melhun, classical arab music, andaloussi chants, and egyptian plays such as Adel Imam’s ones. I admire Iranians for preserving their culture. And above all I adore my country, Morocco.

How have you become interested in Morocco’s history and its politics, whereas most people don’t care about this?

The flame of my interest in politics lit at the age of 9-10. I recall very well that at that age I read my first newspapers. The breaking news at that time were the terrorist attacks on an American Embassy in 2007. I didn’t understand a word of what the journalists were talking about. I didn’t know enough, I didn’t have enough tools to analyze and understand what happened and what “terrorist” meant. I think that’s when I realized that I seriously need to know more. I wanted to discover this world. I should understand these political games. I started my readings. I started getting interested in Morocco’s history. I read about psychology, history, and took a look at political essays. For me it was huge, it was damn difficult. I was 12 at that time. That’s how my love story with politics took root. And to understand better political issues as diverse as they are, I saw myself obliged to learn more about the history of all parties. I also think that my family played a huge role. Once we’re gathered we only speak about politics.

Do you think that one day the word ‘politics’ will no more evoke the image of that old fat politician quarreling in the Parliament?

I think that this stereotype will cease to exist when young people will decide to cultivate themselves, because I think that the majority of them are off topic when it comes to culture and especially history. They don’t understand politics the way it is. They try too much to read between the lines. I’m only speaking about those who at least discuss. Others struggle to stay up to date. They are angry at politics, and that’s what makes them unable to improve it. I really urge all young people to get interested in politics, to go forward, to take initiatives, and to work. We should work hard, because that’s how we will change the world we live in. And in our particular case, that’s how we can change Morocco.

What would you say to little Ahmed if you could brief him or give him one advice?

I don’t regret much. I see that most of what I did was well done. I think I’ve carried out my missions well. If I haven’t, many things would have gone wrong. So, yeah, I don’t think I have any regret. But, maybe I could’ve learnt how to play Oud. I see it as an instrument that carries the essence of the modern Arab culture. A beautifully made instrument, that produces insanely beautiful melodies.

Who are your sources of inspiration?

People who had an impact on me range from Hassan II to Mu’tazilas, a common trait between them is that they swam against the stream. But my role model is my uncle. He taught me the basics of critical thinking, he really is someone I’ll never forget. He taught me how to dream, he cheered me on when I felt down. He’s a man that read everything, knows everything and who is an intellectual that inspires me to this day.

You’re young, you’re 17, however, you’re an intellectual, and a very patriotic one. That’s rare, impressive, but sometimes also annoying. Don’t you irritate adults sometimes?

Most adults who aren’t of my circles don’t really cringe. They’re proud. As for teachers, well, we can’t say they love me as much (laughs). I always have problems with teachers. Especially philosophy, history, geography and islamic education. Because I’m opposed to some lessons of the curriculum. I think that in history and geography we should focus more on some interesting details of our history. And in islamic education, I’m totally against some lessons, because with the current circumstances, I see that those lessons back the rise of radical islam, ideologically speaking. I want them to teach us the real religion and the real history, that has been neglected, and that we know so little of. Today, we, Moroccans, live in a dualism, and we don’t know anymore what’s good and what’s evil, what’s halal and what’s haram, what’s true and what’s false. And that’s a pity.

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