Aida Alami is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to, among other publications, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, and Bloomberg. (June 2018)

Follow Aida Alami on Twitter: @AidaAlami.

NYR DAILY

The Soccer Politics of Morocco

The “ultra” fans of Raja Casablanca lighting torches at a game in the Mohammed V stadium, Morocco, November 25, 2018

During the second half of the game, the tension mounted. Raja Casablanca finally scored. The air smelled of smoke bombs set off in celebration. Then a revolutionary chant exploded in the stadium. In unison, they sang in Moroccan Arabic “Fbladi Dalmouni,” or “In my country, I suffered from injustice.” The lyrics are astonishingly controversial for a country where jails are filled with hundreds of prisoners of conscience. This defiance spoke of economic hardship, a lack of freedom, and an ardent desire for change.

Between Hate, Hope, and Help: Haitians in the Dominican Republic

The border gate on the bridge between Ouanaminthe, Haiti, and Dajabón, Dominican Republic

Dominican politicians have successfully manipulated anti-Haitian feeling for political gain. Radio shows discuss the Haitian “invasion” that must be stopped at all costs. There is a widespread belief that Haiti is a failed state, and that the world is conspiring against the Dominican Republic to force it to deal with its neighbor’s problems. There is a fear, too, of their country being somehow contaminated by Haiti’s ills. “When you peel back the first layer, the second layer,” said Matías Bosch, a grandson of the DR’s first democratically-elected president, “what you have left, in the end, is pure racism.”

World Cup 2018: Morocco’s Glimpse of the Possible

Noureddine Amrabat throwing aside his protective headgear during Morocco’s match against Portugal at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia, June 20, 2018

No matter how disillusioned you are with your country’s team or how frustrated with your country’s government, it still hurts to see a squad of players, dressed in the national colors, not succeed. But as that strong final game reminded me, it’s hard not to feel proud when they do. Between that opening loss to Iran and the second half against Spain, something changed. Maybe it happened sixteen minutes into the Portugal game, when our ebullient winger Nordin Amrabat, who had received a head injury in the game against Iran, tossed away his protective headgear and urged the team on. That won Moroccans’ hearts.