Morocco sues Adidas in court for cultural appropriation

The President of the Morocco Lawyers’ Club, Mourad Elajouti, has been given permission by the Moroccan Ministry of Youth, Culture, and Communication to lodge a complaint against Adidas for stealing Moroccan culture.

The complaint request came in response to Adidas’ introduction of their new Algerian-inspired clothing, which greatly stoked online debate.

Adidas MENA claimed in an Instagram post that the “architectural design of the historic El Mechouar palace in Tlemcen” served as inspiration for its new Algerian culture wear range.

However, the Moroccan Lawyers Club claimed that Adidas had appropriated Moroccan culture, claiming that the shirts were modeled after Moroccan “Zellige,” a sort of mosaic tilework.

“We have warned the corporation that this practice constitutes cultural appropriation, an attempted move of a form of traditional Moroccan cultural heritage, and the use of that heritage outside of its intended context, all of which contribute to the loss and distorting of the identity and history of these cultural elements,” Elajouti said in response to the release of Adidas’ new collection.

Social media users have been inspired by the designs of the new collection, prompting them to post under several hashtags on Instagram, including #Moroccan culture, #Moroccan Zellige, and #No theft of Moroccan heritage.

The El Mechouar palace at Tlemcen was built by Sultan Youssef Ibn Tachfin with the primary intention of housing the Almoravid and later Almohad rulers, according to internet users. In 2010, Moroccan calligraphy, plaster art, mosaic, and zellige were used in the palace’s renovation.

According to a viral video, the director who oversaw the reconstruction of the Palace of Tlemcen recognized Moroccan cooperation and the use of their resources.

Additionally, several social media users demanded a boycott of Moroccan Adidas stores.

Many similar incidents affected Moroccan culture and heritage. Mbarka Ait Ouhassi, a Moroccan designer of handmade traditional carpets, has sued the city of Tlemcen in northern Algeria for using one of her beautiful designs without her permission to promote the culture of the area.

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