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Operation Torch and Casablanca, a two-day tour to celebrate the American-Moroccan friendship

Casablanca was under the spotlight for two days. On the 18th and 19th of November, the U.S embassy organized a two-day tour shedding light on the crucial role the coastal city played during the World War II. Visiting historical, cultural and religious sites, the tour was also an opportunity to highlight the long-lasting diplomatic and friendship relations between Morocco and the United States of America.

The U.S. Chargé d'Affaires, Stephanie Miley, the Wali of Casablanca Abdelkebir Zahoud, Jennifer Rasamimanana U.S Consul General and State Secretary for Tourism Lamia Boutaleb before the screening of Casablanca the movie, 18 November 2017./Ph. Mehdi Moussa
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Taking a moment to celebrate the bilateral relations linking the Kingdom of Morocco to the United States of America is what the American embassy planned to do for the weekend. On the 18th and 19th of November, a tour has been set up to Commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Torch, also known as the American Landing in Morocco, and render homage to the city that inspired one of Hollywood's most acclaimed movies, Casablanca.

A tour for the city

For that purpose, the U.S embassy invited Jessica Rains, the daughter of Claude Rains who played the legendary part of Captain Renaut in Casablanca the movie and Monika Henreid, an actress, writer, filmmaker and daughter of Paul Henreid who also starred in it.

The two-day event was also attended by Aljean Hermetz, a former New York Times journalist and author of «Round up the Usual Suspects : The Making of Casablanca», a book about the film. Noah Isenberg, a Professor of Culture and Media at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts in New York and best-selling author of «Casablanca : The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie» has also taken part to the event.

Always with the intention of celebrating the Moroccan-American friendship and putting Casablanca under the spotlight, the two-day tour run by the U.S Embassy was co-chaired by the American Chargé d'Affaires Stephany Miley and the U.S Consul General Jennifer Rasamimanana. Starting with the two nations' shared history, the first round of the tour was dedicated to the American landing in Casablanca that took place on the 8th of November 1942, and the Anfa Conference held in January 1943. Alongside an American delegation, Yabiladi was invited to visit locations in the city that marked the two important events.

Operation Torch and the Anfa conference

Villa Mirador was the first stop. The house which is now home to the American Consul General once hosted the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The war leader was there to attend the Anfa Conference where American President Franklin Roosevelt and Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdellah discussed potential plans to defeat Nazi Germany. Merely a few yards away from the Mirador villa, the American head of state was staying in a residence during the talks. In the villa, he received his British ally, discussed with his advisers and took strolls in its beautiful garden.

Villa Mirador where the British Prime Minister stayed to attend the Anfa conference in 1943./Ph. Mehdi Moussahim/ YabiladiVilla Mirador where the British Prime Minister stayed to attend the Anfa conference in 1943./Ph. Mehdi Moussahim/ Yabiladi

Hosting high-profile senior officials during a difficult period of modern history, Casablanca's soil was also there to embrace the remains of thousands of soldiers who died to put an end to Nazism and fascism that were tearing Europe apart. Our second stop was at the cemetery of Ben M'sik, where soldiers from the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and France that participated to the Anglo-American landing were buried.

As part of the 75th anniversary of Operation Torch, the American delegation headed next to the navy building (Cercle Naval de la Marine Royale) in the White City. Organized by the Directorate of Military History, an exhibition entitled «Operation Torch : A Shared History» was open to the public. Celebrating 240 years of Moroccan-American friendship, a presentation was held in the naval military base to illustrate the Kingdom's «war effort, the support it provided to the Allies during the Second World War, the importance of Anfa's historical meeting» and the deeply rooted ties shared with the US.

The Christian cemetery in Ben M'sik, Casablanca on 18 November 2017./ Ph. Mehdi Moussahim/ YabiladiThe Christian cemetery in Ben M'sik, Casablanca on 18 November 2017./ Ph. Mehdi Moussahim/ Yabiladi

Casablanca the movie

The tour was not only about the military and strategic role Casablanca played throughout history but also about the influence it got on Hollywood. Inspiring Warner Bros production company, the city was the title of one of Hollywood's most iconic movies. At Cinema ABC, a film screening of Casablanca, a 1942 American film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on a stage play wrote by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison entitled Everybody Comes to Rick's, took place in presence of Lamia Boutaleb, State Secretary for Tourism and the Wali of Casablanca Abdelkebir Zahoud.

Screening of Casablanca, a movie by Michael Curtiz./Ph. Mehdi Moussahim/ YabiladiScreening of Casablanca, a movie by Michael Curtiz./Ph. Mehdi Moussahim/ Yabiladi

The second day of the tour was dedicated to co-existence in the coastal city by visiting Hassan II mosque, the Ettedgui synagogue, destroyed by aerial fire during Operation Torch and recently rehabilitated by the Ministry of Tourism and the St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. To wrap up the two-day experience, a round table was organized on the theme of «Casablanca and the Second World War».

The US embassy has successfully paid tribute to the city all while recalling the strategic and crucial role it occupied both in the political and cultural scenes.

Article modified on : 2017/11/22 12h14

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