A European woman in a Muslim country

DNS education study travel Morocco investigation

First of all, it is pretty difficult to be clear while talking about an experience of being a European woman in a Muslim country. The very first moments me and Ermes started our adventure, I felt millions of gazes dissecting through. Wherever we would appear the whole action would just stop like you would stop an interesting Ted talk video just to take some valuable notes. Especially this would happen in those classical tea houses, where only men were present. This uncomfortable tirade of unusual attention created a wish to become an elf and hide somewhere. It made me wonder - is that the feeling how Muslim girl, covered by hijab, feels in a foreign non-Muslim country while walking down the street? I did not manage to raise this question, but if the answer is yes, then I feel very sorry. Moreover, questions started popping up in my head - what kind of stereotypes Muslim people have about women, whose looks are atypical to the ones they are used to? Is their interest emerging from a similar cultural shock we are confronting while simply seeing something more 'exotic ' in the environment we are familiar with or it is mainly based on images instilled by media or something else? According to Anouar, a young man of 26 we met in Ouazzane at the end of the first day of our investigation, the way how some Muslim men perceive non-Muslim women is not respectful and is mainly based on sexual interests as they have this faulty generalizing misconception about those women being very promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters. He also mentioned that, in his opinion, for me to travel alone in Morocco would be as dangerous as walking lengthwise of a knife-blade and that he personally feels more relieved seeing me with a man by my side. However, we were fortunate to end up in a place full of young men to once more realize the fact that generalization is a fallacious act to carry out - all of them were interested in us as if we were the ambassadors of another culture and reality, were waiting for translations from English to Arabic (Anouar was the only one in their company speaking fluently in English) and without a moment of doubt giving whatever in their opinion was needed to make us feel as if we were at home (traditional tagine at midnight, sweet Maghrebi mint tea, thoroughly preparing beds for sleeping and so on), which, by the way, they were repeating constantly 'From now on you have home in Morroco'. It was mind blowing to run into this example of unconditional hospitality for  people they have just picked up from a street barely knowing anything about them,  blindly answering to a request for help. Probably it will remain unanswered to me. It was just amazing to see this whole synthesis happening between people from different continents, religions, backgrounds and moreover facing language barrier, which at the end was not a problem at all.


Simona, 2016