The earthquake that struck Al Haouz and the Atlas on the night of Friday, September 9, registering a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale, brought unprecedented collective pain and sorrow.
The quake was devastating, given the number of deaths, injuries, and the widespread destruction of houses and dwellings in the villages. Boulders tumbled down mountains, and the intense tremors made people flee their homes while birds vacated their nests. This disaster significantly affected Morocco's intangible heritage.
However, what astonished the world was the overwhelming show of solidarity by Moroccans, both young and old, with their compatriots affected by the earthquake. Images flooded in from every corner of Morocco, including the Moroccan Sahara, the Rif region, and from the east to the west, north to south, even from Moroccans abroad.
Pictures showed Moroccan vehicles heading towards the affected areas, human chains buying essential supplies from stores to aid those in Al Haouz, Taroudant, and Ouarzazate. Images also portrayed long lines of blood donors at hospitals.
I personally witnessed this when a medical center was set up at the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fès; students, their families, staff, and professors all competed to donate blood. Not to mention the generous financial contributions made to dedicated accounts. Images also showed authorities, the Royal Army, and medical teams providing relief to the affected communities. This exemplary Moroccan response surely adds to the list of remarkable Moroccan achievements, embodying the unity between the throne and the people.
While Morocco was grappling with counting the casualties, supporting widows and orphans, rebuilding the devastated areas, and considering the children and orphans of the Al Haouz earthquake as the "afflicted of the nation", there were foreign detractors and critics. They utilized media platforms and empty magazines to provoke the feelings of Moroccans, belittling the outstanding resilience of the Moroccan character in the face of challenges.
These entities couldn't accept that Morocco is an independent, sovereign nation with a soaring reputation in the international system, forging 'win-win' humanitarian strategic partnerships with African, Arab, and global countries. Of course, their biased reports failed against the tidal waves of brotherhood and solidarity displayed by the Moroccan people.
King Mohammed VI's visit to the victims at Marrakech hospital, his blood donation for the victims, his generous contribution of one billion dirhams to counter the effects of the earthquake, and chairing the relief and resettlement sessions is the ultimate testament to the "symphony" of national solidarity written by both the throne and the people.
The Moroccans, carrying grand values of nationalism and humanity, have proven that phrases like "nurtured by the free... beacon of lights" are not just empty slogans but are indeed based on timeless principles that neither change nor fade.
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