The attacks on May 16, 2003, made a significant mark on the contemporary history of our country. That day was an attack on the very heart of Moroccan identity, what makes us unique, our multiculturalism. The matter is serious enough that we should take a moment to try and understand what happened, how 20 year old kids who lived a few kilometres from the town centre could transform themselves into human bombs and kill dozens of innocent people.
After spending two years on the ground preparing for the creation of “Horses of God” and writing “The Stars of Sidi Moumen”, we were able to see to how abandoned they feel and how they no longer identify with the rest of the population. The reason is simple: in its desire to replace the slums with apartment blocks, the government forgot a major parameter: geographical proximity. The relevant departments and local politicians are making the same mistakes that European countries made in the 1950s-60s, creating ghettos on the outskirts of big cities, areas of lawlessness where violence becomes the only form of expression. Yet, there is a way to reverse this trend and culture and the arts have a fundamental role to play in this equation.
Today, we are confident that we can help the youth of Sidi Moumen by offering them access to culture. Not elitist culture, no, a local culture that they create, which tells their story, the story of their daily lives and that allows them to display their talent, because there’s a lot of talent in these districts. And we strongly believe that with centres such as this one, vocations will emerge in the coming years and real stars will come out of these districts, like in the French suburbs.
Nabil Ayouch, President
At the origin of the creation of the Ali Zaoua Foundation in 2009, this Moroccan director and producer has always had the ambition of creating a cultural training project at the heart of the Sidi Moumen district. After two years on the set of “The Horses of God”, the film adaptation of the novel “The Stars of Sidi Moumen”, the director notes that, despite the changes the Sidi Moumen district has undergone, a lot of the youth are still inactive. They have talent, but don’t know where to express it and don’t have the means to exhibit it. With Mahi Binebine, he therefore decided to make this dream – born out of fiction – a reality and to establish a cultural centre at the very heart of Sidi Moumen, with the support of local authorities and district associations.
Mahi Binebine, Co-president
Co-founder of the project, this painter and author discovered the Sidi Moumen district in 2004, one year after the attacks. A district he then described as “another country”. This “country”, where the youth play soccer on a landfill, inspired him to write the bestselling novel “The Stars of Sidi Moumen” but, more importantly, to help change something in this Morocco that is far from the eyes of others. Today, this Ambassador for the Sidi Moumen youth gets many of his friends, relatives and acquaintances involved to help the youth of this district rediscover a reason to never let themselves be indoctrinated.