Ramadan shows the face of the most tolerant Morocco

When it comes to defining through comparison what distinguishes Islam practiced in Morocco from that imported – a recurring academic and journalistic debate in the North African country – the exercise is often accompanied by adjectives such as popular, tolerant, modern and independent. Concerning the Malekite rite prevalent in Morocco, the journalist Mehdi Michbal wrote in the latest issue of the monthly magazine Zamane (History), which dealt with the subject in an almost monographic manner: “A kind of pragmatism and religious realism explain the longevity of this dogma that…” has together built a “Moroccan Islam” with a Sufi mysticism, described as “modern” and “right-of-centre current”, and hence its current power as a defense instrument against Salafist ideologies imported from the East and as a first-class diplomatic instrument. An order”.

One of the most important milestones of the Muslim calendar is undoubtedly Ramadan, which, like in the rest of the Islamic countries, Moroccans celebrate on these days (until April 8 and 10, depending on the country). For a month, Moroccan Muslims – officially the entire population except the small Jewish minority – are obliged to abstain from eating and drinking during the day, as well as other practices such as sexual intercourse or smoking. There are no surveys in this regard and will not be in the near future as to how many Moroccans – apart from the population exempted by age and medical prescription – do not comply with the regulation in private or public. It is difficult to say whether the numbers have increased in recent years or vice versa.

Yes, if one accepts the great sociological differences between big cities and the countryside, one can see greater public tolerance towards those who, in the exercise of their freedom, eat and drink in public places without anyone being outraged or insulted and in the end If any damage occurs, they will draw attention to themselves or even report it to the authorities. Like so many other things in this country, much of what the law prohibits is tolerated by society as long as it is done discreetly. It’s not about attracting too much attention.

For years, the international restaurant chains were pioneers, From McDonald’s to Starbucks, authentic messages of religious freedom during the holy month. Apart from the foreign population, you can now also see young Moroccans of fasting age working on the computer with the help of an XL coffee in a paper cup or enjoying a hamburger and fries in broad daylight without anyone bothering them. I spoiled the gesture. In addition, in public establishments such as cafes or restaurants, it is increasingly common to serve foreigners at public tables and not necessarily in tourist spots or hidden or secluded places. At least this is the case in cities like Rabat, Marrakech, Casablanca or Tangier and is rare – or almost impossible – in small towns.

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It is no coincidence that the trend is moving forward with Islamists in opposition – the Justice and Development Party (PJD) led all governments from 2011 to 2021 – and with a liberal executive. But just two years ago, and with the same liberals from the RNI at the helm of the executive, fifty young people were arrested in a café in Casablanca for publicly breaking their fast in protest. The cabinet is chaired by the current Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch He justified the decision by saying that “the exercise of freedom must in no way constitute a provocation of the freedom of others.” The Moroccan Penal Code, in Article 222, still provides for a prison sentence of one to six months and a fine 200 to 500 dirhams (approx. 20 to 50 euros). Amendment) against Muslims who “demonstratively break their fast in public places without reason during Ramadan”.

In any case, all of the young people arrested over the Casablanca episode were released hours later and there was never a trial. And since then no other similar case has been reported. “It is commendable and we are happy with this change that is taking place in Morocco regarding Ramadan, making it similar to the best secular traditions of Turkey and Tunisia. In addition, there is a practical reason: Morocco is a tourist country and it attaches great importance to its image before the 2030 World Cup,” explains the sociologist from Tangier to LA RAZÓN. Mustafa Akalay. Likewise, the Arabist and Islamologist Emilio González Ferrín recognizes and celebrates the trend towards tolerance towards Ramadan in Morocco. “Since I have so much hope in the world of Muslim youth, it is very likely that when the pendulum swings back, the ideology of salvation will be a personal Islamic ethic and not a collective one: being a good Muslim without paying attention to what the person does or eats. next door And the progress that is taking place in Morocco goes in this direction,” explains the professor from the University of Seville to this newspaper.

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