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Morocco Win in World Cup Brings Celebration Across Africa and Middle East


Shortly after Achraf Hakimi netted a penalty at the Education City Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday night, overcoming a huge disappointment that left Morocco the top Arab majority team won the right to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, a Moroccan journalist in the box press burst into tears.

A Moroccan security guard at the stadium covers his face with his hands. A roar resounded in Casablanca, in Cairo, in Gaza City, in Algiers, in Riyadh, in Sana, in Paris, in Turin and even in Madrid, the capital of the country that was supposed to not only win this battle, but maybe even the entire tournament.

But instead, Morocco won, sending millions of Moroccans at home and diaspora around the globe into a choking frenzy, blowing whistles and waving flags. Their cheers of joy are amplified by the cheers of Arabs across the Middle East and beyond, whose Pan-Arab solidarity is sometimes absent or muted when it comes to political issues, has thrived thanks to a series of shocking victories by Middle Eastern teams in this tournament.

On Wednesday morning, after partying all night, the Moroccans in Casablanca still congratulate each other.

“Congratulations to us,” they greeted each other with a smile. “Dima Maghreb!” – “Always Morocco,” the rallying cry of Moroccan fans. Their parliament opened its session Wednesday with a performance of the national anthem.

“My joy is indescribable,” said Zoubida Boutaleb, 40, Casablanca-based communications specialist and longtime football fan. “I am still above cloud nine!”

For some fans, the Disney prince-like looks of Yassine “Bono” Bounou, the Moroccan goalkeeper who saved three Spain penalties in Tuesday’s game, may have contributed. part of the excitement.

But the joy even outweighed the professional indifference of Moroccan sports journalists, some of whom took up microphones at the post-match press conference to pose questions that resembled general notes. more suitable for Mr. Bounou and Walid Regragui, the Moroccan-French coach. who always cuts close to the rest of his hair and is fondly called “avocado” by Moroccan fans.

“I don’t have any questions,” said one, continuing to thank them for the win. “I was talking, and I was in tears.”

In the Spanish city of Murcia, home to a large Moroccan community, the reaction was more two-way.

A local Spanish far-right group posted a photo on Twitter of a city building lit in Moroccan red and green, adding that they would ask the mayor for an explanation.

By Wednesday morning, after a “massive outcry” and a “chaos”, the group announced, the City Council had turned off the lights.

Laila Berchane, 35, an entrepreneur in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, said: “It’s amazing to see all Moroccans happy for once, especially after so many years of trying to reach that stage. this paragraph. Portugal was upset but then narrowly lost to West Germany; 1998, when close to qualifying for the knockout round; 2018, when losing to Portugal.

“Especially in a year of economic uncertainty, global conflict and the recovery from the pandemic crisis,” she said, “this victory is much needed.”

Morocco’s win is the fourth time at this World Cup that an Arab team has beaten a highly-rated opponent, including Saudi Arabia’s group stage loss to Argentina, Tunisia’s victory over Argentina. France and Morocco’s own victory over Belgium.

At a time when their leaders were divided or indifferent to the causes that once united them most strongly, many Arabs and North Africans, who shared one language (if divided into several dialects) ), a religion (in most cases), elements of a proud history and, often, a common sense of injustices perpetrated by the West, seem to have engaged in a cheers across the region.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Tunisia, as well as hosts Qatar, failed to make it to the round of 16, leaving the Moroccans alone in the ensuing matches.

When they won on Tuesday night, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, wearing a red jersey in Rabat, waved the Moroccan flag to celebrate. So is the emir of Qatar, in his VVVIP box in the stadium. Egypt’s Cairo Tower lights up in red and green, and Iraq’s most famous Shiite leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, tweeted “Moroccan hope for Arab victory” as a hashtags.

“Lions of Atlas are the joy of the Arab world,” headlined Al-Ahram, Egypt’s leading daily. “Morocco goes down in history after overthrowing the Spanish matador.”

One of Egypt’s top talk show hosts, Lamees el-Hadidi, also joined in on Tuesday evening.

“I, as an Arab and an African, am very happy for Morocco,” she said on her show. “Arab streets from the ocean to the Gulf are cheering for Morocco.”

Many Africans also support the country in the northwest corner of the continent.

Ugandan singer and politician Bobi Wine tweeted, along with a photo of himself in a Moroccan t-shirt.

It is the most watched event in the world, where young men represent nations and make their way to the pitch, politics is always behind — or sometimes at the forefront — in some The match featured Arab teams.

Colonial resonance is hard to escape in a match between another North African country, Tunisia and France, in which a former colony defeated its former colony, a favorite to win the tournament. .

When Morocco played Spain, at least one commentator on Twitter called it the “Al-Andalus Derby,” referring to the fact that Muslims ruled Spain from the 8th to 8th centuries. 11th century, when European Christians conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula.

But attention quickly turned to current events as the Moroccan players unveil a Palestinian flag in the midst of celebrations on Tuesday night.

Given that their country’s government was among the first to normalize relations with Israel in deals brokered by the Trump administration in 2020, this statement is all the more clear.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, was among those participating in the online celebration on Tuesday night, posting a tweet in Arabic congratulating “our Moroccan friends”.

He was met by a series of photographs of the Moroccan team holding the Palestinian flag.

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