Tangier 2003

 Fulbright Associations Workshop on Moroccan-Spanish Cultural Relations

Fulbright Associations Workshop on Moroccan-Spanish Cultural Relations

Tangier, December 6-7, 2003


Bridging the strait, celebrating cultural differences and similarities and reinforcing the network of friendships and personal relations are the fundamental objectives of this two day meeting in Tangier between former Fulbright scholars from Morocco and Spain. This is a continuing dialogue which began with the Fulbright European workshop held in Toledo in 2001. And Tangier’s history as an open and cosmopolitan city helps make it a stimulating venue in our quest for understanding and cooperation.

It is our hope that this meeting in Tangier, which will bring together Fulbright alumni from both sides of the Strait who hold positions of influence in education, research, the arts, business and public administration can in some way serve to strengthen relations and reinforce bridges between our two countries. Something we see not only as a possibility, but also as an obligation in the times we have been born to live. For in the words of late Senator J.W. Fulbright, «… The prejudices and misconceptions which exist in every country regarding foreign people are the great barrier to any system of government.»

We believe an open and stimulating dialogue between societies, particularly between groups which are culturally or socially influential within these societies, can serve to create an atmosphere conductive to fortifying solid relationships between countries. This is particularly the case when the two countries represent the frontiers between two cultures, the European and the Arab, which need to move together towards cooperation and enrichment and away from conflict.

Our search for understanding can only help us work together to resolve conflicts and discrepancies. For this reason, although it is unavoidable that references to the problems are made, this workshop should not center itself on them, but rather address the cultural space in which they are produced. We see our dialogue as one more step among many experiences which are being undertaken by other groups and entities. And we believe that the strongest bridges of understanding are a product of these forms of conversation, and are the only ones that can transform neighbors into friends. Therefore we have appropriately chosen two main topics for the workshop, international relations, which always deals with frontiers and territories, and art, which so naturally transcends borders.


Instituto Cervantes
11, rue Belgique, first floor, Main Hall
Tel: +212 39 93 20 01
e-mail: centan@cervantes.es

The talk at 10:00 AM on Sunday the 7th will take place at:

The American Legation Museum
8, rue d'Amerique
Tel.: 039935317

and the tour of Tangier will leave from that place after the talk


December 6

December 7

Organizing Committee



Ladies and gentlemen,

Sallam alleikum,

Those who have seen the famous movie Casablanca (a very appropriate movie to be mentioned in Morocco) will probably remember the last sentence of the movie, which has become very famous: Humphrey Bogart said to the head of the police department: «Louie, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship». I remember now that another «beautiful friendship» began in Toledo, three years ago, when the Spanish Fulbrighter met our colleagues from Morocco in the International Fulbright Meeting in Toledo. This picture of Lorraine, Angel and Carmen with our friends Bennasseur, Mohammed and Hassan is a testimony of this budding friendship.

The city of Toledo, a symbol of cultural crossing, tolerance and international relations served at that time as a point of encounter of international dimension. This spirit was reflected at common meals, receptions, a tour, and at the experience of living together at the Fulbright Workshop. We were specially interested in the participation of the Moroccan Fulbrighters in that event. Our expectations were fully satisfied. The Moroccan Fulbrighters were very active in the participation of the sessions, provided new points of view to the discussions, offered us original perspectives on the problems we talked about, and most important they proved to be excellent friends.

The proof that it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship is the generosity that our Moroccan friends have demonstrated every time that Spanish Fulbrighters have come to visit them.

Bennasseur, I remember that it took you 26 hours to travel from Rabat to Toledo to participate in that meeting. Now, we are very proud to have spent I don’t know how many hours to pay you back for your efforts. We are very proud to be here in Tangier, a city that has much more in common with Toledo that having the same initial letter T in their names. Let me tell you a historical anecdote which has become a legend.

At the end of the 11th century Yusuf ibn Tashfin was the leader of the Almoravids in the north of Morocco, and Tangier was part of his domain. Seven years later, in 1085, Toledo, a Muslim city, fell at the hands of the Christian king, Alfonso VI. The ruler of Seville, the king al-Mutammid, asked the Almoravids of Morocco to cross into al-Andalus to defend them from the Christian menace. And they did so. They were commanded by Yusuf ibn Tashfin himself. The Christian king Alfonso VI was defeated in Badajoz and he was forced to retreat to Toledo.

At the beginning of the 12th century, Yusuf ibn Tashfin arrived to the outskirts of Toledo and the first thing he realized was that the Tagus river had created a natural fortress easy to defend but difficult to conquer. He then made an oath that he would never retreat until Toledo was conquered. He installed his camp on a hill overlooking the city of Toledo. The time was passing and Toledo was not conquered. Yusuf ibn Tashfin felt ill and asked his men that if he die before the city was conquered they should bury him on that hill with his face directed towards Toledo. On the first day of the Muslim year 500 (2 September 1106) Yusuf ibn Tashfin died. His men buried him and they carved a stone with the face of ibn Tashfin. But his followers disobeyed his last wish, as they felt much more appropriate for him forever be looking towards the south, towards his beloved homeland, the place of his ancestors.

We followed Yusuf ibn Tashfin’s direction of his gaze, and have come obviously not for conquest, but for fostering the human relations between our two countries. We are conscious that our historical roots and common values may serve to enhance bonds between our two organizations.

The city of Tangier also brings to my memory the legend of Alexander the Great, who intended to build a bridge to unite both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar. The legend says that the bridge was built but the level of the sea rose, and the waters covered it. They say that sometimes at low tide it is possible to see some remains of this bridge. The famous historian Al-Idrisi gives a very detailed description of where this bridge was located, and the most important datum is that one of the points of this bridge, the one in Morocco, was precisely located in the city of Tangier. No other city of Morocco could be more adequate to host a meeting like ours which is entitled «Bridging the Strait». We are here now to rebuild that bridge, a bridge non physical, but a bridge stronger that a physical one. A bridge which unite the hearts and the feelings of the people and that no water is able to cover.

Shukran. Gracias. Thank you.

Visual Memories

Press Clipping


Sponsored by the Spanish and Moroccan Fulbright Alumni Associations
. Information about Tangier

With the support of Instituto Cervantes at Tangier» and Satec

Galería fotográfica del evento (Tanger 2003)