Safety is a Relative Term

Please understand that this blog is my opinion. It is based on the perspective I have gained by asking questions, getting to know people, observing, and asking more questions. And then asking new questions. And listening to the answers. Because the biggest problem I have experienced lately is a simple lack of knowledge. It is ESSENTIAL to educate yourself, so please ask questions. Keep asking. Never stop asking questions. If you haven’t asked a question today, ask tomorrow.

I spoke to three people today about Morocco. A western woman, a western man and a Berber. The woman and the man both asked if Morocco is safe, both in general and in light of recent events. The Berber didn’t ask any questions but simply said, “it is not safe to be anywhere if you are Muslim.” And not because of terrorism. Because of hate. And ignorance.

This all begs the question: when you ask if a place is safe, safe for whom? Is it safe for me, a white western woman with political freedom and resources?  Probably. Because white westerners make the rules.  Is it safe for a Muslim to be anywhere in the world right now? No. Not really. It’s not. Nor is it safe to be black in America. Or Syrian, anywhere. Its not safe because the terrorists know that we are driven by hate and bias. They can blow up anything but its the aftermath and our own lack of knowlege that will eventually be the death of us.

Here is how I answer the question “is Morocco safe?” both in the context of general travel to Morocco, living there, and in light of the current world situation and the situation in Paris.

Yes. Morocco is a safe place to visit. If you are smart, and vigilant, and don’t fall for cons, and are aware of your surroundings and don’t walk alone at night and travel in groups, yes. Morocco is safe. I would apply the same tips to Baltimore and quite frankly….good luck to you there.

See, Morocco feels safe because its a predominantly Berber country. Morocco is also predominantly Muslim. Fact. Yes, there are Arabs in Morocco, and Arabs are generally causing a lot of problems right now,  but Morocco is often described as the “Arab west” vs the Middle East which is the “Arab east.” A distinction that bears note because Morocco is more liberal and more westernized in its society and its laws. That’s important to know.

The dominant culture in Morocco is Berber. The Arabs tend to take the upper hand because they hold the wealth and power, but the Berber culture prevails in Morocco and that makes it a really lovely place to be.

I think we have established that I love all things Berber. I love the history, I love their artifacts, art, craftsmanship. I love the Berber way of life. The nomadic / pastoral lifestyle where the nomadic families spread out and tend different plots of land, moving with the seasons and surviving by sharing responsibilities within the family unit.  Family reigns supreme above all else. Wealth is not the first priority but rather having  family that is well fed and happy is. Their language has a hypnotic affect on me, and their traditions are fascinating.

All this to say, I love a good Berber. I had the distinct pleasure of spending some real quality time getting to know some Berbers, and also understanding and learning more about Muslims and Islam. It is a peaceful faith and its followers are peaceful people. Generally. And they are people. They do not deserve to be abused at their childs’ school, or persecuted in the media, or painted with a broad brush because some group of lunatics have labelled themselves the Islamic whatever. Those people are terrorists. Muslims are people who follow a peaceful doctrine. If you are Moroccan, you are probably Muslim. There is also a pretty good chance that you are Berber. And that is what gives Morocco its flavor and culture. That is what informs its society and its level of safety.

Is there a chance of an atack in Marrakech? Of course. And Toronto, and Seattle, and Crete, Berlin and Amsterdam.

So let’s ask more questions and find out who the real enemy is. And yes. Morocco is safe.  And so are the Berbers. Today.  Inshallah.


  1. raincitygal

    Well said, Kathi.
    … I said the same thing to a friend before we left for Morocco when asked “how safe do you think it (Morocco) is”.
    I said “safer than Baltimore in peacetime”

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