الجمعة، 27 مارس، 2009

The Daily Star: Morocco Clamps Down on Shiites, Gays in Newly Launched Morality Campaign

RABAT: The Moroccan government has begun a clampdown on what it sees as threats to the kingdom's religious and moral foundations, with Shiite Islam and gays particularly targeted.
"At stake is the image of the state," Mohammad Darif, an expert on Islamic movements in Morocco, told AFP.
"The authorities are seeking to prove that they are still the guarantors of the religious and moral values" of the country.
Last Saturday the Iraqi Baghdad school was closed down, with the Education Ministry declaring that the "educational system ... was contrary to the provisions of private schooling" in Morocco.
"This decision," a ministry statement said, "follows a complaint made by an Iraqi citizen ... against the school's headmistress," who was accused of expelling three children "for confessional reasons" and of propagating "a particular religious practice." This was a reference to Shiite Islam. Morocco overwhelmingly observes the Sunni Malekite form of the religion.
The independent Arabic-language newspaper Al-Jarida Al-Aoula has reported that dozens of people suspected of having Shiite sympathies have been arrested since Friday in Tangiers in the north, Essaouira in the south and Ouyazze 120 kilometers north of Rabat.
This is not the first time Morocco has targeted Shiite Islam.
Foreign Minister Taeib Fassi Fihri recently attacked Moroccan associations seeking to develop Shiite Islam in the country with the backing of Iran.
"Morocco cannot accept that activities of this type be conducted, directly or indirectly, or via a so-called non-governmental organization," he told AFP, criticizing an "attack on the foundations" of the country and on the "cement" of Malekite Islam.
The government's initiative extends to the moral sphere with the Interior Ministry declaring in a statement Saturday that it was determined to confront, "with vigor and in the framework of existing legislation all activities, writings and books seeking to attack the moral and religious values" of Moroccan society.
Government sources say this is a counter-attack against press articles calling for greater tolerance of homosexuality.
The government regards homosexuality as contrary to social values and Islam, and Islamists, in particular the Justice and Development Party, have condemned the campaign and called for firm action.
Newspapers report that about 20 gays were recently arrested in the center of the country.
A French feminist organization was earlier this year refused permission to open a branch in Morocco.
Fouzia Assouli, a women's rights campaigner, said the new emphasis on moral values was linked to local polls due to take place in June and the government's determination not to give Islamists an issue around which to rally. - AFP
25-03-09

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