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Dialogue to Morocco challenges preexisting perceptions – Northeastern

northeastern-university-logoNortheastern.edu, by Matt Collette (Boston, Massachusetts, June 26, 2013) — More than a dozen students immersed themselves in a culture steeped in European and African traditions while participating in a Dialogue of Civilizations program to Morocco.

Morocco may be a pre­dom­i­nantly Muslim country, but its his­toric rela­tion­ship with Europe—primarily France, which col­o­nized it from 1912 until 1956—and its loca­tion in Africa make it a nation with a cul­ture that’s far from monolithic.

“Morocco presents an oppor­tu­nity for our stu­dents to see what it’s like to live in a Muslim country, and then to take it a step for­ward and get to know the people who live there,” said Peter Fraun­holtz, a lec­turer in the his­tory depart­ment who leads an annual Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram in Morocco.

“It’s an oppor­tu­nity to find out first­hand what life is like for Moroc­cans and for the stu­dents to chal­lenge their ideas of what Islam is like, how it’s prac­ticed, and what it does and doesn’t permit,” he continued.

For the first time in pro­gram his­tory, the dia­logue began in Paris, where the stu­dents exam­ined the con­nec­tion between Morocco and France, which like coun­tries across Europe, has expe­ri­enced an influx in immi­grants from Muslim coun­tries. That pop­u­la­tion surge has led to some of the most sig­nif­i­cant social and polit­ical shifts in recent Euro­pean his­tory, Fraun­holtz said.

While in France’s cap­ital, the stu­dents vis­ited the U.S. Embassy in Paris as well as neigh­bor­hoods pop­u­lated by immi­grants from Morocco and non­profit orga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cated to improving the lives of France’s newcomers.

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