The Moroccan Desert (Photo: Thom Cahir)

It’s obvious, just look at a map, we’re both the little guys on big continents. Sure, Morocco might be the size of California, but when surrounded by Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Libya, and Egypt, you’re the little guy. Aside from that, Morocco owns the title of the first nation to recognize the United States as a nation in 1777, and with the signing of the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship signed in 1786, has the longest-standing, non-broken friendship treaty with this country.

Need more proof? Newport is the home of Touro Synagogue, the oldest Jewish home of worship in America. During the Spanish Inquisition when the Moroccan Berber rulers lost control of the Iberian Peninsula, they retreated across the Mediterranean while protecting the Jewish population. Until the State of Israel came into existence, the King of Morocco protected almost 50,000 Jewish citizens living there, and to this day an enclave of about 5,000 remain. If you’ve seen the movie Casablanca, although it isn’t explicit, the underlining message of the movie is the protection of a minority population by those willing to take a stand. Sound like Roger Williams and religious liberty, anyone?

At the same time Rhode Island was building the first large-scale wind farm in the United States, Morocco was bringing online a massive solar array in the Atlas Mountains. Both Rhode Island and Morocco are highly reliant on tourism and agriculture. Both have long coastlines on the Atlantic that bring surfers and other enthusiasts, and both have some of the best restaurants in their respective corners of the world.

Moroccan street scene (Photo: Thom Cahir)

Providence likes to tout itself as the Creative Capital, and with a pre-eminent art school and the sheer amount of talent and production in the area from blown glass, paintings, photography, sculpture, and metalwork, Rhode Island is a powerhouse. Having visited Morocco, I can say I witnessed much of the same there, in the form of tinsmiths, carpet-making, glass-blowers, and ceramics production. The sheer amount of product in the medinas, from Marrakech, to Ouarzazate, to Essaouira, Fes, Casablanca and Merzouga proves how industrious the population in Morocco is, and how hard they work to sell their wares.

For all the reasons listed above, we should put everything else aside, realize all we have in common, and let the world’s favorite game bring us even closer together. We little guys have to stick together, especially when we have a history of sticking up for the voiceless. Allons Maroc!

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