For some reason, when I introduce myself as Moroccan, I’m often met with wide eyes and cocky comments about my homeland and there was one that always really stood out from the rest. You see, growing up being nicknamed Akhi potter wasn’t the funniest. And that was mainly due to the fact that according to many, Ron Weasley might as well have been from Ouarzazate instead of his native borough in London. Why? Because of the very heavy reputation the Kingdom of Morocco carries of being a country with deep roots in black magic and sorcery.
The first time I was ever introduced to black magic, I was on a family holiday in Casablanca. Young Yassine was messing around with his cousins (as per usual) until one of the elders came down to shush us up by recounting the very daunting tale of Aïcha Qandisha. Iterations of her story can vary from one region to another and also depend on how naughty the kids you are trying to scare have been. But in its essence, she is Bloody Mary—but from l’bled. A Mythological figure that is more than well-embedded in Morocco’s folklore and who is known for her awing beauty as well as her Jinn-like characteristics as it is believed that she only appears near water sources and uses her salient charm to seduce men to then either madden them or bring their lives to an unexpected end.
What we call Shour (Black Magic) can come through all sorts of form or ways but will immediately repudiate you from Islam upon its first use. Cast a spell on someone to make them fall in love with you, bring them misfortune or even curse them, there is only so much witchcraft to use for those that want to believe in it. Practiced by all stratums of society starting from lowest to highest, the issue of sorcery has factually plagued the almost entirety of the African continent but has somehow remained particular to Morocco through time. And by dint of believing in it so much ourselves, the whole region ended up falling for it too.
As much as from my male perspective it is annoying to be brought back to this all the time and being associated with all sorts of wizardry slurs; I think that it is important to take a minute and pass the mic to my Moroccan sisters now stuck between being referred to as bitches or witches to not say both.
Can we leave stereotyping Moroccan women with black magic in the past🥴 if I hear “I swear you do black magic” one more time, I’m going to looozeeee it
— رانيا 🇲🇦 (@ranyalami) April 26, 2020
This common belief has been poured all throughout the region and has become a staple stereotype of the North African kingdom. No need to mention how problematic this claim is, but it proves how selective our communities may be when it comes to remembering specific attributes and peculiarities of a country. Despite the fact that the world’s first university, Al Qarawiyyin, having been founded in Fes by a woman called Fatima al-Fihri, Moroccan women were never granted with the title of intellectuals and highly-educated scholars. See where I’m going with this?
All in all, this is to say that being called Akhi potter itself wasn’t the worst curse and it definitely didn’t kill me. Far from it actually. At least you can threaten your bully to wake up with a third nip the next day and just watch them crumble in front of your insatiable revenge. We’re talking year 8 beef here.
One thing is for sure though, it has had a major toll on my female equivalents; socially, culturally and psychologically. The claim itself is largely unfounded – so, if we keep on going that way of dissing each-other for the sake of hurting other communities illogically, shall we all start illogically calling each other out based on groundless ideas held as standards? Because if it came to that, I’m sure that each of us could find something to pin on the other so how about we just focus on what brings us together instead.
Illustration credits: Leila Aloui