Moroccans Ignore Trump and Worry About Their Own Problems

It's been just a few days since Donald Trump said he'd close America's doors to Muslims, and here in Marrakesh so far not a single Moroccan has raised the issue with me.

"Most Moroccans realize it's an internal American issue right now," says a Moroccan friend at a café. "If Trump was president, then it's a different matter. When Bush decided to invade Iraq, we had plenty of protests."

Generally, however, many Moroccans seem to think they should be primarily concerned with their own affairs, their own politics, as well as their own history. "That's urgent right now," says Rabie al-Kati, a Moroccan movie star. "We're erasing our own history and we need to preserve it. Sure, for others to understand who we are, but mostly for ourselves, Muslims, Arabs, Moroccans."

We're sitting in a hotel lobby talking about his most recent movie. "It's a love story, and a detective story," he says. He plays the lead, the detective. Guessing by the number of people who come by for autographs and pictures, and the wide smiles he collects from women staring from afar, I gather that he's one of Morocco's matinee idols. We met the night before at a reception for the Marrakesh Film Festival's jury, headed by Francis Ford Coppola. Kati was wearing a white dinner jacket, like he was dressed for Coppola's version of New Year's Eve in Havana, 1959.

The kinds of picture Kati really wants to do, he explains, are historical dramas, movies about important figures and moments in the history of the Middle East and North Africa. The problem, he explains, is that those historical movies on the scale of Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments, or the 1976 Muslim-world equivalent, The Message, a movie about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, are very expensive. And it's not clear that where there's enough money to pay for such pictures, like the Arab Gulf states, there's also enough will to make them.

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