13 September 2009, 6 activists of the Moroccan movement MALI* (Alternative Movement defending Individual Liberties) organized a public meal in Mohammadia City station**. As everybody knows, this is Ramadan where Muslims practice their tradition of fasting everyday from dawn to dusk. The members tried to show that the Moroccan penal code 222*** was an offense to individual freedom, and that not everybody agreed with it (the group included both liberal Muslims and secular freethinkers). Before the meal even started, the members were surrounded by police officers who checked the content of their bags, insulted them (telling them, in Darija, "fuck off, you infidels", "whores" and such)****, and slapped some of them. They were forced to take the train to Casablanca, escorted by DST officers (Moroccan intelligence) who interviewed them, asking repeatedly "who's in the real instigator? Who's behind you?", then upon their arrival two of them were arrested.

15 September at night, the rest of the members were arrested by police. They had received many death threats from Islamist Organizations and individuals, as well as insults and severe critiques, both in the media and on their group in facebook.

The provincial comity of Oulemas in Mohammedia has "strongly" denounced the attempt to break the fasting.

"The population of Mohammedia was informed of the attempt made by a group of agitators, in violation of one of the main pillars of Islam, arguing that it was under the tag of individual liberty" said a communiqué from the comity. "The provincial comity of Oulemas denounces this odious deed which defies Allah's and the prophet's teachings, with all the severe sanctions it would bring about".

Just as a reminder, the Moroccan state only recognizes two religious affiliations: The Jewish minority have their own penal code, and the rest of the population are considered Muslim by default, and are subject to shari'a inspired laws.

And by the same occasion, similar cases took place in Algeria and the Emirats, the later being the most problematic as it involved two NON Muslims and NON residents, who were arrested for drinking orange juice in public.

*Mouvement Alternatif en défence des Libertés Individuelles."mali?" itself is a Darija and Arabic word which could be translated as "what's the problem with me?" (in an outraged and complaining sort of way).

**The founder of the movement declared later on that they were intending to go eat in the forest, and that the station itself was only a meeting place. (The event itself was announced publicly on facebook)

***The penal code 222 states that any Muslim person who is caught eating in Public during the day in Ramadan, will face prison for a period ranging between 1 and 6 months, and would have to pay an amends of 120 to 1200 Dirhams (12 to 120 Euros approximately). Combined with another penal code stating that deconversion from Islam is prohibited, it is simply impossible for any person holding the Moroccan nationality to eat in public, especially that both acts are iron-handedly frowned upon in society (a person was killed "by mistake" by a mob in Fes, in one its most fundamentalist districts, for drinking in public; it turned out later that he was a diabete and couldn't fast in the first place).

****Some of the details you may not find in website articles and such; they were communicated to me first-hand by email before the members were all arrested.

For the reference:
http://www.bivouac-id.com/2009/09/15/manifestation-des-non-jeuneurs... (In French)
http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2009/09/13/internacional/1252862987.html (in Spanish)

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Replies to This Discussion

What a moronic law. What's the point of fasting if it is enforced by law? Not much of a sacrifice then...
Thanks. Two days ago only some Moroccan and Spanish websites had published the story. About the case of the guy from Fes, although it was never published in official press as far as I know (but then you can't trust official press here), I was told, by several people living in Fes, that he was actually killed by a mob. I have to check again then.
All activists have been apparently released except Zineb, the co-founder of the mouvement. So far, she seems to be completely missing. Not even the police could tell where she is.

A BBC interview with her sister Nora. Go to minute 44.





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