Monday, June 25, 2007

Rabat, Morocco

This is Sarah Braasch writing to you from Morocco. I am working for a great organization -- the Moroccan Organization of Human Rights (OMDH) -- in Rabat. I couldn't be happier with my internship. Everyone is so kind and helpful here. I am working with another American intern, Caitlin Steinke, on a terrific project. Caitlin is an undergraduate at Connecticut College. We're developing a network of young human rights lawyers in Morocco to handle the onslaught of police brutality and torture cases which OMDH receives constantly. We're seeking funding, developing a training program for the lawyers, as well as an advocacy program for the police and the public. We're also creating an online forum / network, which we're looking to take international. Speaking of police brutality -- every night there is a demonstration in front of the parliament building, which occasionally gets out of hand, but is, for the most part, relatively peaceful. The group protesting is composed of young people with graduate and professional degrees and training who cannot find work. I took several pictures, and I'll post a few.

Separately, I am also studying the recent revisions to the family code, the mudawana, as well as the nationality code. I am terribly interested in the impact on women's rights, and the effect, generally, of the existence of a state religion, and, specifically, Islam. There have been a lot of exciting developments recently with respect to women's rights in Morocco, and I am fascinated by the dynamic between this push towards modernity and Islamic Law.

My French improves each day. While I read and write well, my speaking French was a little shaky at first. I am also trying to pick up as much Arabic as possible.

Morocco is beautiful, and the people are wonderful. So welcoming and kind and hospitable. The men are a little aggressive -- which took some time to get used to -- but now I feel comfortable and know how to handle myself pretty well. I've made it a point to talk to as many people as possible. The young people in particular are incredibly open and more than happy to discuss any subject, be it politics, religion, cultural and social mores, the war in Iraq, etc., etc..

That's all for now folks. More from Morocco later. Ma'asalama.


J. Spencer said...

Sarah, this sounds like such a great project -- it's fantastic that you're TRAINING people so that your work will live on past your time in Rabat.

I look forward to seeing your photos! Morocco's a place I've always wanted to go.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, I live in Rabat and would love to be involved in an organization like OMDH. I have done business consulting and strategic planning for more than 8 years and have moved here recently so I am looking for something to do. Please write me at if you know how I can get involved.

Nicoletta said...

Sarah, what an amazing project! I am an immigration lawyer working with asylees, refugees and the intersection of U.S. criminal & immigration law and I would love to talk with you more about your network of young human rights lawyers in Rabat. Please email me at

Look forward to talking more.