Casablanca Calling 70 minutes: (timecode in elapsed time)




... our prophet Mohammed ...



... a woman must stay at home ...



... married Aisha when she was a child ...



... women should not be educated …



... this is the danger ...



… discipline women ...



... a woman must stay at home …



... obey her husband …



... not be educated ...



… she will bring you shame …



... obey her husband ...



... marry her early ...



... God is great



Why must women suffer from childhood to old age?


I can’t believe Islam says we should live like this

live this bad life







Morocco and other Muslim countries have been living in a long period

of ignorance and stagnation.

So women have suffered injustice and discrimination.




Many people, knowingly or unknowingly

have blocked the most basic rights Islam gives women.

We’ve realised that women here really need female religious leaders.




In 2006, the Moroccan government began training women as Muslim preachers for the first time.

They are called Morchidat (spiritual guides).



In Morocco women preachers are taking up the front-line positions in the fight against Islamic radicalism.



... Islamic preachers. The Morchidat, as they’re known, were created after the 2003 bombings in Casablanca.



(Ahmed Koutas - Ministry Islamic Affairs)

The, the, the Islam practice is, is, is getting more and more extreme, and there was a need to re-address the situation in any way ...


Trainee preachers must undergo an intensive six-month course, alongside male colleagues.


It’s the first such experiment in the Islamic world - women preachers. The women also work in hospitals, schools, even prisons. The goal is to first empower women, and help them…


... it is hoped these female guides will encourage a more tolerant Islam.



Capital of Morocco



Morchidat since 2009

Work: Mosque, prison, school






We can’t worship God with ignorance. Islam came to fight ignorance

Islam is about forgiveness, fighting violence, compassion

Our religion is not about how we appear.

It’s what is in our hearts



What is your role in society?

Society needs you. Society is not just ‘Me, my husband and my children’.









I don’t want to sound like a movie star and say ,“I was born to do this”

but if someone took me back 30 years

and asked me what I wanted to do with my life

I’d say I want to be a Morchidat

because I really feel I’ve found my role

I love talking to people and giving them advice

I love the work I do


Alfalah Mosque

Rabat Old Town




These ideas come from Islam and we need to rebuild them together

It won’t be possible if just one person tries. We must all try together





Does anyone want to ask advice about anything?

Any issues with neighbours or husbands? Or anything else?























What’s wrong, Fatna?

-My granddaughter is always upset and we don’t know why


How old is she?

-About 14


Is she at school?
-No, she left school

What is she doing?
-She works as a maid for a family


-Now she is always upset. She says she has no luck, even with marriage

But you said she’s 14?
-What, 14 is not a good age to marry?


No, she’s still young

This poor girl has missed out on so much

Try to be patient with her, not violent

Don’t beat her and don’t shout at her.

Talk to her.  Say, ‘Listen, you’re still young to get married ...

…married life is not easy’

Many young girls get married and it doesn’t work








A girl should get married at 25 or 26

and a man should be 40!

That’s old!

Ok, then, 32 or 33


Men take a long time to grow up!

How many girls have been left by their husbands with a baby on their back?






Girls of 12 years old

12 years old, divorced, and with a child?


At that age, girls are still playing hopscotch!






Early marriage is a problem that comes up a lot.

The state has tried to deal with it through legislation.

It’s now illegal to marry before 18.

This was a really positive move that has helped us in our work.




If any of you have anything you want to discuss today

We can talk privately now, ok?













-My dad told me I’ve been promised to this boy since I was 4.

Now it’s more difficult to come to school

because my family say now I’m getting married I shouldn’t leave the house.


Look, you obey your parents in many things

but with marriage, God has given a woman the right to choose for herself.

You must explain that you have the right to refuse this marriage.

This is your right. Sharia law says so.







Religious scholars define Sharia law based on the Koran and the Prophet’s teachings

but these definitions have to be revised over time as society changes

and our religious scholars have decided that a young girl

is not ready to get married.













































That one is 350 dirhams

but if you like it I can give you a good price.

-I don’t have that much time …
Let me bring you tea

-No, really, I just finished work

and I have to get home to the children.

Don’t you think it’s hard for children when both parents are working?

-Ah, you are one of those who think women shouldn’t work?

Yes, it means there’s nothing cohesive for the children.


-OK but ...

You understand me? When do you see your children?

At 6 or 7 when you come back from work, they’re calling for mummy and daddy

and you say you’re tired, you don’t have time. It’s not like a woman who stays at home

and when her husband comes home, dinner is ready, things work smoothly.

-Yes, sometimes, but there are mothers who stay at home

and still don’t bring up their children well.

It’s about quality, not quantity!

Many people we meet think that Islam forbids women to work

but when you ask them for proof they can’t find it.

The problem is the social traditions passed from one generation to another.

Some religions really look down on women.

They don’t even let girls go to school.


Girls are a bomb waiting to explode

and ruin the family’s reputation at any time.

So we must get rid of this bomb as soon as possible...

-By marriage

The important thing is that Islam doesn’t say that.

 Islam gave women a really important role, whether at home or out in society.


There are now more than 400 Morchidat giving spiritual guidance to women and young people across Morocco.


Larache region

North-west Morocco




Around here, most men don’t work.

If you go to a house now, you’ll find the men sleeping.

Women are working in the fields all day.










I live with my mum, dad and brothers. I’m the one supporting them all.

First you work to support your own family

then you work to support your husband and children.

It’s the same thing.

And so it goes on, until God offers you a way out.




I don’t know how old I am.

I’ve always worked. I never went to school.

My dream was to go to school and learn to read.




Around 60% of women in Morocco are illiterate.

In some rural areas more than 90% cannot read.




When I compare a girl in school and a girl working in the fields

I feel a crime is being committed against the girl in the fields.



Morchidat since 2009.

Work: school, rural mosque.






When I see girls of 13 or 15 with hands so rough from all the hard digging …

Islam doesn’t forbid girls to work, but that is not where a girl should be.

A girl should be getting an education.




There are few schools in the countryside, so girls often stay in dormitories in nearby towns.

But most parents don’t want to send their daughters away from home.


Abi Almahassin Dormitory

Larache Region





This is a dormitory for girls at secondary school

and I chose to do some of my work here with them.  

All these girls are from the countryside.

Their parents have made a big decision to send them here.




I really enjoy being with them.

Sometimes they have problems and I really feel for them.

I try to advise them as best I can.







































I have a problem with my dad.

I don’t have any freedom at all.

The only place I’m allowed to go is school.

I’m not even allowed to talk to my friends.

-But you are boarding here? How does he know if you are with friends?

He finds out.

-He finds out even when you’re here?


-Is he worried about the girls you are friends with?
I don’t know.

Do you think some girls are a bad influence?

-There are some good girls and some bad.


Your dad doesn’t know them individually

who’s good and who is bad.

He is probably scared of something bad happening to you

and to you it feels like you have no freedom.

In our society there’s a misunderstanding

that girls are the cause of troubles

and if a girl is away from home she’ll get herself into trouble.

These are the kind of worries your dad has

and he’s projecting his fears onto you.

We will change his way of thinking.

As women, we can do anything

and as a girl you can help change your dad.

We’ll try lots of things and if one doesn’t work then we’ll try something else.

But when you go home this holiday, will you make an effort to be nice to him?

-I promise I will.
That’s good. Come then...








I had a good job before, and I always used to give people advice at work

but I always wanted to do something like this.

So when this opportunity came along I was hoping to be chosen

and when I passed the exam and got selected, I was so happy.








God loves people who want to learn.

You are fighters, you’ve left your homes and your families behind.

I hope I can help you if you come to me with a problem.

I don’t have a magic wand to fix everything,

but what we can do is talk together

and try to find a way through.













I’m surprised your brother is not married at 35. Normally in the village people get married earlier.

-Yes, my brothers are the only men not married.
This is the problem.

In the village it’s very hard for men to meet women.

You need to intervene.

After the holidays I want to hear that you’ve helped your brothers find wives.

32 and 35 and still not married? That’s very difficult.


-You should see them, they look 40 …




















-My older brother, I’ve heard rumours that he is going out with somebody

But she has a bad reputation.

-Listen to me.

Let me give you some advice. Don’t interfere with anything

You’re not going to find a wife for your brother who is perfect, with  no past behind her.

Just look around you. Many 15 year olds get up to bad things.

Is that true?


So do your prayers and hope for the best. Talk to your brother.

If they love each other and can make a good home and family

He should marry her and forget about the past.

I really want to hear some good news ..,

-God willing.






We can talk to Bouchra about anything.

She knows everything that’s going on in our lives,

any problems at home.

She’s like our mum, sister, teacher, everything!








Here in the dormitory we are like family.

Sometimes we get into fights together.

Recently there was a fight between Real Madrid and Barca supporters.

Some girls like Barca, some like Madrid... Barca won, Madrid lost...

War broke out!







We have a lot of girls here, 230 of them.

When Bouchra comes, I need her help.  

It’s too much for me to manage on my own.

I don’t have enough time.

And when I go home at night, the girls are left completely on their own.


-Good night, girls
Good night, teacher






Many parents are scared of sending their daughters away to school.

The dormitories have a reputation for being bad places

where girls will be lonely, they will be attacked by men.

And some parents think girls don’t need to go to school at all.


As well as working in the dormitory, Bouchra advises women across the Larache region.























-So, Fatima, what is wrong?
-The problem is my daughter.

-What’s wrong?
-He doesn’t look after her, he leaves her with me.

-Her husband?

-It sounds like he wasn’t a good choice
-Yes, he was a bad choice. It was so quick...

They got married within a month. We didn’t have time to find out what he was like.


-Our religion says we should only marry a man when we trust his character.

It’s really important to know what a man is like before marriage.

This shouldn’t happen. Girls are so young and you accept the first person

who wants to marry them...
-Yes, this is what happens.













-Men don’t want to marry and respect you, they just want you to do the donkey work.

Women are not respected, even older women, once their husbands get money.

They just want a new car and a younger woman.

Many girls round here have committed suicide.

-Suicide is the wrong way.


-It’s the stress. When a girl leaves her husband and goes back to her family

they send her back to her husband.

The cycle goes on and on until she can’t take any more.





-Rachida, you seem like a very strong person?

What’s made you stronger than other girls in the village?


-I’m my own person and I think for myself.







-I’ve already suffered a lot. I won’t get married and make my life worse.


-There’s too much ignorance here.


-Yes, but if you’re strong; you can stand up to it.








-Now, your daughter needs the help of a women’s rights group.

My powers are limited, but I will talk to them about her situation.

They will try to meet her husband and make him face his responsibilities.

Call me next week. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll call Rachida.










Even though I believe in my work, sometimes I feel I can’t do enough.  

In some situations there is little I can do to help.

Girls here are forced to work because of poverty.

They don’t have choices in life and get mistreated by their husbands.

It’s a combination of ignorance and poverty.

We can’t get rid of poverty

but we can try to change how people think.









Women teaching religion could change things, so people have faith, help one another

and make women better people.

We need advice on how to behave, to know right from wrong.

The women here are like cows, just running round,

working and running,

just like animals.
































-Why is it that whatever a woman earns goes to the man and she never sees it?

-Because women are scared of men, a woman can’t refuse if he asks for the money.


-It’s exploitation.
-It’s not exploitation.

-Yes it is. She works while he sleeps, and then gives him the money.

-Women here work like this because they have no education.

Without skills, or qualifications,

they are under men’s control.

If a man makes a small demand and his wife doesn’t obey him

he can divorce her. So she has to just work and carry on.

It’s just the way things are.


-She gets beaten with a stick!
-Many women are scared of their husbands.

Even though she’s the one working, he will still beat her, often for a tiny thing.

‘Why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you wash that?’


-Women are doomed. And then they die.

It’s a life of hard labour.









What can we do? If I found work, I wouldn’t let my wife work,

but God knows ,we are poor. I wish I could keep my wife at home.

But times are hard. What can we do? Stay hungry? What can we do?





What, I should do women’s work? It would be shameful to see me doing housework.

If the neighbours saw me sweeping the floor I’d be a laughing stock.





I had a call from the teacher

asking me to come to the dormitory urgently.

I asked her what had happened.

She told me that one of the girls here has killed herself.












We are here to talk about something I would never wish to happen.

I love each of you, as if you were my sister

as God is my witness.

But today I got really terrible news

that we have lost one of us.

She was a girl who loved life.

She was a beautiful girl

and lived life to the full.

Surely it wasn’t easy for her to take her own life?

Why would one of us feel pushed to take this step?







-She was going through really difficult times.

I know her well and we talked a lot.

Like you said, she was someone who loved life.

I was shocked, and never thought that she would do this.

I still can’t believe that it has really happened.

It’s like a dream. I keep thinking she will come back.









-Does anybody know why she did it, what happened?


-Her father came to pick her up from school.

He couldn’t find her, so he waited for her in the street,

and he saw her with a boy.

When he saw her he started beating her,

dragging her by her hair. Everybody was watching.

He came here, got her things and took her home.






-What her father did is completely wrong.

We are against that 100%.

You’re at school with boys, so of course you spend time with boys,

and swap mobile phone numbers.
























None of that is forbidden in Islam.

But there are some limits and boundaries we have to respect.

Many of your mothers want you to achieve things they weren’t able to.

They put their hopes in you and so do your fathers.

A father will worry for the daughter he’s sent far away from home.

She's young and vulnerable

maybe boys will trick her, and use her.

Perhaps she will innocently accept the offer of a drink

and then find herself in a bad situation.

You understand?

This is the fear your fathers live with.  I really hope you can understand it.

All of you need to be aware

you could find yourself in a similar situation

and you need to be prepared for how to deal with it.

Every single person has a huge value in the eyes of God.

So none of you should ever feel that you are worthless.

Anyone who has a problem that seems to have no solution,

please just call me.

Call me, just to talk.












In every home there is a problem,

but I feel my friend who killed herself had the same problem as me.

I can understand her,

because what she was feeling, I feel it too.

We had a lot in common,

and when we talked together,

I just felt her situation was my situation too.


















What do you think about calling in all the girls’ parents and guardians?

What’s happened doesn’t only affect the girls.

It’s something parents need to take responsibility for too.

I’d really like it if we could meet with them

so we can talk to them and help them understand

what it’s like for their girls as they’re going through adolescence.


It’s a good idea but it won’t be easy to get the parents to come.

Even those who live nearby say it costs too much to get here.

The bus fare here and back, that’s a day’s wage.

I often call when there’s a problem but they don’t come.

I will try to get them to come, let’s hope ...

It’s important to get the message across.



With problems this big, we need society to help us.

There are many things beyond our control.





I don’t think as Morchidat we can fix every problem,

but we have to try and help people understand each other better.

It’s a matter of conscience.








When Islam began, many women held high positions

and women were behind many developments in Islamic culture.

So why is our status now so low?

Why are we having to fight for the rights we were originally given?



Morchidat since 2009

Work: Mosque, school









“Women Breaking Boundaries” international conference


Islam gave the opportunity for both men and women to participate

And doesn’t make roles exclusive to one or the other.

As Morchidat, our task ahead is long and difficult

As we are determined and united

I hope that all the obstacles we face will eventually disappear.











When I was small, my father used to gather us together.

Every Saturday night he would tell us stories about women at the time of the Prophet.

 I loved the stories of these women.

They were successful business women, like Khadija, the Prophet’s wife.

They were learned scholars, male scholars came to learn from them.

They were tailors, warriors, doctors, pharmacists,

so I had a great image of women in the Islamic world.









I’m really happy my wife is doing a job society really needs.

The first Morchidat graduated 5 years ago.

I don’t think there are enough yet to support all the women who need them.

And with the qualities women have,

their skills should not just be used to help women

but to help men as well, why not?




I don’t really know what mum does for work

but I think it’s good because she comes home happy,

and that makes me happy too.




For me the best part of the job is working with young people in schools.

They really listen and love to discuss things.




































-What kind of influence do you think parents have on a young person?


-The most important thing in a family is communication.

In some families there’s no communication.
They send us to school but when we come home there is no conversation.

They have no interest in what we’re doing.


-Do you think you could help to change things at home?

Maybe you could help your parents to learn

and change things in your family?


-Parents in the West sit and read to their children.

They give their children toys to help them develop their intelligence.

I’ve seen a Western child who is really mature and can express themself.

But a Moroccan child who is much older is less developed than the Western one.


-But you’re generalising. It’s true of some people, but not all.

They have good things in Western culture, but we have good things as well.

What does our religion call for?

The prophet engaged with his wives and people.

-It says so in the Koran.


-He engaged with Muslims and non-Muslims.

It’s good to look at developed cultures and learn from them,

but we’ve forgotten to look at our own roots.

And the reason we don’t communicate is because we don’t follow our religion.





Many young people want to migrate to the West

where they think that all their dreams will come true.

That’s not reality.



If a young person migrates they leave an empty space,

and our society needs energy, especially from young people.







We try to encourage young people to love and be proud of their country.

And we explain that there’s some truth in their idea of the West,

but a lot of it is fantasy.

Even in the West, life can be a struggle.


At the end of the school year, Karima and Hannane are taking students on a trip to the holy city of Fez.





We welcome you, dear students.

We must trust that God is with us on this trip

and that our trip is a success.

Let’s give a big welcome to the Morchidat Karima Zouhair.






































I’ve got a question for you.

 Who are your heroes? Give us examples.

Is there someone you find inspirational?

Who you look up to as a role model?

When I was young I used to admire Einstein. I loved his passion or knowledge,

how he made his discoveries known and changed our views.


-This philosopher is the father of humankind and sacrificed himself to philosophy.



Who else will come up? Who likes Beckham, Christiano? Ronaldo?

Justin Bieber?


-I like the Powergirls because they’re powerful and I want to be like them.


Ah, Powergirls! From the cartoon?

And which one is your favourite?



-And why Bubbles?

Is it because she’s clever?


-I like a singer called Tangoui because he sings about things going on in our society.

-Can you sing us something?

(sings) Emigration ... will make somebody who has never cried, cry.

I’m living in a world that is foreign to me.

I’ve emigrated because my country hasn’t given me much.

But my heart longs to go home

where my mother’s waiting for me.
























-This is the Kairouaine mosque, built by a woman called Fatima Fehriaya.


-In what year?

-879, about 12 centuries ago.


As well as being a mosque for prayer, it was a university.

People came from all over the world to seek knowledge here.

They were studying lots of subjects, science, astronomy, maths.

Our civilisation reached great heights thanks to the work of these people

who fulfilled their task as seekers of knowledge in the Islamic world.


We have to look very hard inside ourselves and our ambitions,

so we can do our best and contribute to our society, women and men together.

As women, we are very proud that this was built by a woman.

So let’s have a round of applause for women.










The Morchidat try to help people, based on religious teachings.

Since they started coming to our school it’s made a difference.

They’ve had training and they really understand the true Islam.

They use religion to give advice about modern life,

and it’s a really good way to deal with things,

because many of us don’t have people to show us the right path.








When you work with people you really feel the greatness of God

like when I talk to the students, each of them is so individual

each of them thinks in a different way.

God is called the creator, the maker, the image maker.

You can see the beauty of God in how perfectly everything works in the world He created.







I have a special relationship with the sea.

Whenever I sit and watch the sea, it makes me cry

because I see the wonder of God in the water.

As a Muslim, I believe that in the movement of every wave is a prayer.

The whole of nature works in beautiful harmony.






Most girls who come from the countryside have very limited ambition.

I explain that even though they are from rural villages

and their parents didn’t go to school

this door is open for them and they must aim for the sky.


In the weeks after the suicide, Bouchra continues to support girls in the dormitory as their exams approach.






-We agreed to write and express our feelings.

What’s this?

-A heart ...
-What? Ah, a heart










Then it says ‘Eternal friendship is based on mutual respect’.

That’s nice.

What’s this? ‘Silence is a sign of consent.’ Does someone want to get married?

Maybe she is trying to tell her dad she wants to get married,

but he doesn’t get it, so she’s written on the wall, ‘Understand me, understand me’.















-Anyway, I’m just popping in. I know you are busy with your exams.

What did we say?
-Organise our time.

-You need to wake up early and get an early night.

You need to eat well.

It’s good to have bananas, also walnuts

and raisins and fresh juice, and lots of water.

You must be organised.

During exams, try to put everything else out of your minds.

The first time we spoke, I said that you are fighters.

I really mean it, it’s not easy to keep your faith

and stay focused on your studies when you are living in a dormitory.

































You’re still having problems with your dad?



Can we meet your father to talk to him? No? Why, are you scared?


Yes, I’m scared and it could have repercussions.


Ok, there is something we can try, we have tried it before.

You can write him a letter and tell him how you feel. Can he read?



You must tell him everything you feel. If we could bring him here we would talk to him,

but I respect your decision because we don’t want repercussions for you.

Promise me then, you’ll write a letter and explain everything, and give it to him?

Maybe you will open something that is hidden in his heart.


-It could be that he is worried about me and finds it difficult to say.


So tell him that, and tell him that if he is not happy with something you’re doing

you will be happy to change it. Do you want to rectify things?

We all do things that upset our parents without realising

but if we know we are in the right, then we must not give in.

So you must ask him why he behaves this way with you?

Then let’s talk about how to move forwards.









I came to the dormitory five years ago when I was 13.

We have family near here but I wasn’t allowed to live with them

because my dad doesn’t trust anyone.

Before I started meeting with Bouchra, I didn’t have anyone to talk to.

But when Bouchra came I started talking to her.

She’s given me a lot of advice and I’ve followed it.







I told my dad how I was feeling

and that I was sorry if I’d done something to make him angry,

that I hadn’t meant to do anything wrong,

but that I still felt he didn’t trust me.

Then he said sorry as well, and now things are a bit better.







If one girl from a village gets into trouble with a boy

all the girls in the village will be in trouble.

Every father will keep his daughter at home,

and even parents who planned to send their daughters to school

will change their mind.





We were at the same primary school.

Then we both went to the dormitory.

We went there together, lived there together and we are still together.




Most girls in our primary school weren’t allowed to go to the dormitory

and now they are married.














-If a girl reaches 20, she’s on the shelf.


-Like you!

-You won’t get a look in?


-No, we aren’t talking about ourselves. We mean the others.

We won’t marry until after we become doctors.

There are 3 of us and we have a plan to have surgeries next to each other.

Our friend Khadija will be a dentist, Youssra a pediatrician

and me a gynaecologist. Three women doctors, God willing.





Islam is a religion that compels people to learn.

The prophet told us that learning is a duty.

The first word of the Koran is ‘Read’.

It’s something every Muslim should do.


Alfalah Mosque,

Rabat Old Town






Now we are able to read and write,

we can read bus numbers and phone numbers.

When we’re walking in the street, we now know where we’re going.

Like we say ‘Knowledge is light’.







Things are so much better now. We were just in our houses before,

living in darkness, just gossiping all the time.

With these classes, we’ve started to think about how we act.

Before we do something bad, we stop and consider what our teacher has said.












By spreading love we get rid of hatred and malice in the heart.

You build bridges through good conduct.

You can build bridges with your children, so that you don’t lose them.

How many mothers push their children away without meaning to?

Even though they really care about them, they never show them that love.

We would love it if when people had conflicts they came to the mosque to resolve them.










I wanted to avoid conflict

and that’s why I divorced my daughter from her husband

who is my cousin.

The problem wasn’t her husband, it was his mother, my aunt.

-Was your daughter living with your aunt?

-Just for a month.

They were only married for one month but this woman created every problem possible.









Many women suffer under their mothers-in-law,

so when their sons get married, they do the same. They think it’s their turn now.

So what is the solution? We need to open our hearts to each other ...

-What we need is to get together like this

and talk to each other.

If we are here and others are not, we will never understand each other.








Any new idea we try to put in place

about changing life for the better, takes time.

Our goal is to plant the seeds.

It may not be us who will see the fruits.

Maybe it will be our children.

Maybe the next generation of Morchidat.

They will see the rewards, God willing.








My hope is that women will reach really high positions in Moroccan society.

If we reach those positions then we can make decisions

that give rights to every woman and to every man and child.

For me as a woman, I just feel that women understand what women need

and we are the ones who know what to do to make sure we get our rights.





 01:08:06     01:08:11


 01:08:19    01:08:24

Should the people truly desire to live ...

destiny must surely answer their call ...

and night will become day ...

and the chains will break and fall.

You must fight discrimination,

strive for freedom,

for a place to live,

for dignity.

People, we must struggle.




© 2019 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more info see our Cookies Policy