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How popular is Morocco's king? Don't ask.

RABAT, Morocco — The word “kingdom” is easy to gloss over in the official name of this North African nation, but that’s a risky slip to make. The Kingdom of Morocco’s reigning monarch this month finished celebrating his 10th year on the throne, a period marked by unprecedented advances in democracy, women's rights and press freedom. Yet even as local and foreign media ran fulsome tributes to Mohammed VI — chummily known as “the cool king,” or “M6” — the ruler demonstrated just how absolute his power remains.

Morocco loving the McArabia

RABAT, Morocco — Walk into a McDonald's in Morocco and you'll find a sandwich you can’t get anywhere else in the world: a cumin-spiced flatbread creation called the McArabia Tagine. The McArabia was launched across the Middle East in 2003, but this year the 23 McDonald's franchises in Morocco further localized the recipe by tweaking the seasoning and sauce.

Thrown into a Moroccan jail

RABAT, Morocco — When Moroccan guards came to release Illinois retiree James Douglas Willson from prison, he believed that they’d come to shoot him.  Willson, described by family as a church-going Cub Scout leader, had been charged and convicted of drug trafficking in Morocco. His troubles began when a sightseeing flight in Spain was diverted, delivering him into one of international travel’s nightmare scenarios: imprisonment abroad.

Big harvest boosts Moroccan economy

EL-JADIDA, Morocco — In a lush field 60 miles south of Casablanca, a farmer revealed one reason why this country’s economy has so far kept healthy while others have fallen ill. Belkadaf M’barek, 46, reached under a bushy, knee-high plant and fished out a cluster of bright red, baseball-sized tomatoes. “2009 is a great year,” M’barek said, squinting beneath a cloudless sky. “God willing may every year be this good.”

"Chop off their heads at their workplaces."

Al Qaeda says it will target 50,000 Chinese working in Algeria and North Africa, in retaliation for the July 5 deaths of 46 Muslim Uighurs in western China. Two other Al Qaeda affiliated web sites are also calling for the deaths of Chinese working in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East:

Morocco's latest fashion

Robes that would make a Jedi jealous

Long-hooded cloaks are high fashion in Morocco.

In search of the real Rick's

Play it again, Sam, and again, and again

CASABLANCA, Morocco — On a dingy side street, the smiling landlord pronounced with historical certainty that one need look no further. The real inspiration for Rick’s Cafe in the classic film "Casablanca" stands before you. “Yes,” said Abdeslamy Labiad, 70, gesturing to an oval sign above an arched doorway. “It’s the same bar.” The sign was plastic, and smeared with bird scat. It said, “Rex Cabaret.”

Iran election: The view from Morocco

The old journalists’ saw that dogfights on Main Street play bigger than wars in Asia is holding true on the newsstands of Morocco. If you want the latest on the crisis in Iran, you’ll need to dig deep into the foreign sections of Moroccan papers or simply read ones published abroad. I couldn’t find a single domestic publication in French or Arabic that judged Iran’s electoral crisis to be front-page news Tuesday.
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