Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

‘Qandisha', the Women's Webzine that is Ruffling Feathers in Morocco

A webzine for women in Morocco is causing a stir for its frank treatment of religion and sexuality.

A year and a half ago, Fedoua Miski, who lives in Casablanca, launched Qandisha [fr], a magazine for women in Morocco and beyond. For the 32-year-old trained doctor, her involvement in human rights propelled her to get involved in citizen journalism. The magazine has since earned a strong following in Morroco and abroad, but along the way its web site has been hacked twice and attracted its share of disparaging comments and threats in response to its coverage.

Global Voices recently caught up with the founder of this “magazwine”, as Miski calls Qandisha to bridge the words “magazine” and “webzine”, during her trip to Montpellier for the third instance of 4M [fr], a conference attended by members of the media on both sides of the Mediterranean, organised by CFI (Canal France International) and Montpellier.

Fedoua Miski magazine qandisha

Fedoua Miski, founder of Qandisha “Magazwine”. Photo by author

Global Voices (GV): Why did you create this webzine for women?

Fedoua Miski (FM): Pour apporter quelque chose de différent. Il y a beaucoup de webzines au Maroc, mais c'est le premier webzine féminin sans le trio beauté-mode-cuisine habituel. C'est aussi un magazine collaboratif. Notre rédaction, c'est notre lectorat. Le sentiment d'appartenance au journal est plus important. A travers les sujets qu'on aborde, on a une étiquette engagées-militantes assez évidente. Les valeurs universelles, le respect des droits humains, des libertés individuelles. Plus concrètement, on voudrait pousser toutes les femmes qui le souhaitent à discuter et commenter l'actualité, qu'elle soit politique, sociale : encourager la prise de parole féminine. Dans nos pays arabo-musulmans, conservateurs, les femmes ont moins l'habitude de prendre la parole.

To bring in something new. There are plenty of webzines in Morocco, but this is the first woman's webzine that is not about the typical beauty-fashion-cooking trio. It's also a collaborative magazine; our writers are our readers. That sense of belonging to the magazine is very important. Through the subjects we cover, there's an activist branding that's pretty evident. Universal values, respect for human rights, individual liberties. More concretely, we want to give a boost to all the women who want to discuss and comment on current events, whether political or social –  to encourage women to speak up. In our Arab Muslim conservative countries, women are less inclined to make their voices heard.

GV: What does the name Qandisha mean?

FM: C'est le nom d'une démone dans la mythologie locale. Une femme diabolisée parce qu'elle a dérangé. On savait qu'on allait être diabolisées, donc, on a pris ce nom d'une femme diable. La légende dit que cette femme rendait fou les hommes, les ensorcelait. En réalité, ce devait être une nana très belle ou très forte. On voulait l'isoler, donc, on l'a diabolisée.

It's the name of a demon in the local mythology. A woman who is demonised because she causes a stir. We knew we would be demonised, so we took up this name of a female devil. Legend has it that this woman drove men crazy, she bewitched them. In reality, she must have been a very beautiful, strong woman. They wanted to isolate her, so they demonised her.

GV: What has been the most-read article on Qandisha?

FM: Le témoignage d'une jeune femme à qui le syndic de son immeuble interdit de recevoir des amis hommes chez elle, à Agadir. On ne la laissait plus accéder à son appartement avec ses amis. Nous l'avons soutenue et encouragée à porter plainte, ce qu'elle a fait et cela a entraîné un débat sur la moralité et sur les libertés individuelles.  La femme marocaine n'a pas de libertés dans l'espace public, mais elle n'en a pas non plus chez elle. Les réactions ont été très diverses. Certains hommes et des femmes l'encourageaient à faire respecter ses droits, d'autres lui conseillaient de se plier aux règles sociales.

The account of a young women in Agadir who was banned by the management of her building from allowing male friends to visit her. They wouldn't let her enter her apartment with her friends. We supported her and encouraged her to report it to the authorities, which she did, and that sparked a debate on morality and individual liberties. The Moroccan woman has no liberty in the public space, but she has none in her own home, either. The reactions were very diverse. Some men and women encouraged her to demand that her rights be respected, others advised her to bow to social norms.

GV: Who reads Qandisha?

FM: Peu de magazines ou webzines féminins au Maroc peuvent se targuer d'avoir autant de lecteurs masculins que nous. Parce que nos sujets sont sociétaux, politiques. Les hommes seraient plus tranquilles si on se consacrait à la mode, à la beauté et à la cuisine, ça les rassurerait. Et en même temps, beaucoup d'hommes nous soutiennent, au Maroc même. Il faut arrêter de croire que le Marocain est un macho primaire, il y en a beaucoup qui soutiennent l'émancipation de la femme. Dans nos statistiques, nous voyons que c'est de Casablanca que viennent le plus de lecteurs, et, au second rang, de Paris…Nos articles ont été repris par Courrier International, par Rue 89. Nous avons maintenant des contributrices françaises, tunisienne, algériennes. Ce serait génial si des femmes d'autres origines écrivaient (en français ou en arabe) chez nous.

Few magazines or webzines for women in Morocco can claim to have as many male readers as us. Because our subjects are societal, political. Men would be more relaxed if we just focused on beauty, cooking, that's reassuring to them. But at the same time, a lot of men support us, even in Morocco. People need to stop thinking about the Moroccan male as a simplistic, macho type; many of them support women's emancipation. From our stats, we see that the highest concentration of readers is in Casablanca, and then Paris… Our articles have been republished by Courrier International, by Rue 89. We now have contributors from France, Tunisia, Algeria. It would be great if women from other origins would write (in French or Arabic) for us, too.

GV: Have you encountered any problems due to the causes you're involved in or the subjects your articles touch upon?

FM: Le site a été piraté deux fois, en représailles d'articles portant sur la religion ou sur la sexualité. Il a été piraté juste après la publication du témoignage d'un jeune homosexuel qui vit au Maroc. On a des commentaires anonymes, des menaces mais on s'y est habituées. Le camp adverse n'a pas d'arguments solides, il se sent ébranlé dans ses convictions.

The site was hacked twice, in reprisals for articles on religion or sexuality. We were hacked right after we published an account of a young homosexual living in Morocco. We get anonymous comments, threats, but we're used to that. The opposite camp lacks solid arguments, they end up with their convictions shaken.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site